#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Reviews, Travel, Videos

When in Sacramento…Drink Wine!

Skinner Vineyards

[This is post #002 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

Before I go on any trip, I typically have at least 701 restaurants mapped out to visit. However, since this was a work trip, I wasn’t quite sure how much free time I’d have. I could have done some research anyway, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up for nothing. So, I landed in Sacramento with my boss, zero plans and no expectations.

It ended up working out well, since my boss is a wine aficionado in the truest sense of the word. He had some nearby wineries mapped out on his to-taste list, so I tagged along. In hindsight, I probably should have taken a wine tasting class, since I’m about as opposite as can be from a wine aficionado. I’m sure we were quite the odd couple:  He sniffed, inquired about production levels and varietals, while my input was limited to…”{grunting sound} Me likey.”

We visited about a half dozen wineries during our limited free time and luckily ended up finding some decent restaurants, too. Below are a few of my favorites, but first a quick disclaimer:  Most of the spots below are near Sacramento, but only one is actually in the city, so be prepared to travel a bit.

1. Klinker Brick Winery (Lodi, CA)

Klinker Brick Winery

I really loved the casual atmosphere of this winery. It’d be a great place to hang out on their patio, sip some wine, play some corn-hole, and just enjoy that fresh California breeze. And the name, Klinker Brick, is just fun to say. How can you not have a good time at a place called Klinker Brick?! Oh, the wine. Right. The wine highlights for me included their Albariño, Petite Syrah, and Farrah Syrah. Truth be told, I don’t think I had ever heard of Albariño before. Either way, me likey.

2. Jessie’s Grove Winery (Lodi, CA)

Jessie’s Grove Winery Ice House

The dessert wines at Jessie’s Grove were brilliant. Give me a dark chocolate bar, a bottle of their Sweet Perfection and I’d be set for the evening. (BTW – It’s hard to concentrate right now because I’m blasting “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield. And YES, I am singing along and replacing “girl” with “grove.”) Aside from wine and chocolate, I was struck by the history of the vinyard, which stretched back to the late 1800s. Some of the original vines that were planted in 1888 are still used for production in their wines today. You’re not just drinking wine here, you’re traveling back in time and tasting history. But since there were no blogs back then, I recommend traveling back to present time as fast as possible.

3.  The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery (Lodi, CA)    The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery on Urbanspoon

The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery

The name is a little misleading, as I saw no foxes dancing, but that was quickly reconciled by the fact that The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery bakes its own bread. Honestly, if you bake your own bread, it almost doesn’t matter what you put between it.  Tried a Tri-tip Green Chili Melt and surprisingly, the highlight wasn’t the green chili, tri-tip, or the melty-cheese. It was cheddar-jalapeno bread so fresh I could taste the field the wheat was harvested from. (Now that’s how you hyperbole the heck out of  sandwich!) Also, they give you a cookie with every order! It’s the little things that can make me happy and in this case it was a snicker doodle. I recommend stopping at this place for lunch in preparation for a day of wine tasting in Lodi. Create that solid bread foundation in your stomach for which the wine can fall upon.

4. Ella Dining Room & Bar  (Downtown Sacramento)     Ella Dining Room and Bar on Urbanspoon

Ella Dining Room & Bar

Ella Dining Room & Bar is the kind of place that I would’ve planned to go to, had I been aware of its existence. First of all, the restaurant is adorned with shutters on the walls, imported from somewhere like Hungary. Why? Who knows, but it looked cool as heck. I tried their signature cocktail, The Real Gin and Tonic, and was not disappointed. I was so not disappointed that I had two more. And then there was the fried chicken, which was guaranteed to be moist because it was sous vide before being fried. I also have to admit that although it was a nice restaurant and I was with work folks (including my boss and our company President), that did not stop me from ordering said fried chicken and eating it with my bare hands. #NoShame. Oh, and the housemade hot sauce was the bomb.com/yummy.php.

5. Skinner Vineyards (Somerset, CA)

Let’s not beat around the grape vines:  Enjoyed a stellar 2012 Grenache, Estate wine, but the highlight of this place was the VIEW. We could have been drinking rainwater out of red solo cups and I would’ve still had a great time. You can’t tell from the video, but snow-capped mountain tops were even visible! Made the mistake of going to Skinner Vineyards as our last stop before the airport. Almost didn’t get on the plane… If you’re heading to Lake Tahoe from Sacramento, take a couple hours out of your trip and stop here to sip the wine and take in the scenery.

As much as I love the other cities of California (you know, the ones that start with ‘San’ or ‘Los’), I wouldn’t mind going back to Sacramento. I actually do have unfinished business. There’s a restaurant called Bacon and Butter that I didn’t get a chance to try. Yes, BACON and BUTTER. Need I say more?

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