Although I’ve never lived in the Bay Area, I moved to San Francisco for my summer internship knowing that I would benefit from the extensive network of Boothies also interning in the region. In fact, the running joke was there were more Boothies living in the Bay Area than in Chicago for the summer. Throughout the course of this summer, I’ve always had something fun to do with fellow Boothies on the weekends, whether it was indulging at one of San Francisco’s many beer gardens, biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, or hiking in Muir Woods.
That said, the excursion I was most looking forward to was a day trip to Sonoma. Shout out to second year Aakanksha Marwah for planning this incredible day that included a roundtrip private bus for 28 (!) Boothies, three guided wine/olive oil tastings, bocce/cornhole games, and free time to explore Sonoma Plaza!
Mark Twain allegedly once asserted that the coldest winter he’d ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. While I cannot confirm the veracity of this statement, I can certainly attest to it on this particular 55 degree morning. Shivering while waiting for the bus to arrive, I was able to connect with my Boothie peers, some of whom I hadn’t even met until that point. An hour-long drive to wine country allowed us all to catch up and bond.
We arrived in Sonoma to 90 degree dry heat, a stark contrast to the San Francisco chill. Our first stop was at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards (yes, the same family that created the eponymous hot tub spa). While I’m not sure I fully understood the sommelier’s explanation as to how those two industries fit under one umbrella, I will say that I was very impressed by their refreshingly crisp Pinot Grigio. While the wine was outstanding, my favorite part of this winery was The Olive Press, the very first olive mill in Sonoma. Imagine a room with pretty much every flavor of olive oil you could imagine (and ones you can’t imagine) in aesthetically-pleasing squirt bottles and unlimited bread for dipping. You can stop drooling now.
Next was Larson Family Winery, where we enjoyed a picnic, lawn games, and most importantly, Labrador puppies! Seriously. This winery is known for its Three Lab Chard, a Chardonnay named after the owners’ three labs – Buster, Bubba and Pete – who love to play with guests.
The day trip was capped with a visit to Valley of the Moon Winery, where I finally acquiesced and purchased a bottle of the 2013 Estate Barbera. This rich, velvety red wine not only smelled and tasted amazing, but it also attracted me the most, given the uniqueness of the grape’s growing conditions. Barbera grapes require the coolest microclimate on the entire estate and are grown in a hidden location separated from the rest of the property by trees and creeks. I loved seeing the reactions of my fellow Boothies when they tried it!
As I reflect upon my summer living in San Francisco, the Sonoma trip stands out as a clear highlight. Not only was I able to explore wine country for the first time, but I was also able to share that unforgettable experience with fellow Boothies!