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Weekend Traveler

Geyserville is worth a visit

Try Ramazzotti Wines. Photo Bo Links

Geyserville has become a popular destination — with award-winning wines, a zeal for local products, and a friendly local vibe. In 1847, following the discovery of a series of hot springs called The Geysers, a community emerged that catered to tourists. Initially known as Clairville, the name soon changed to Geyserville.

Just over an hour from San Francisco, Geyserville is easy to explore; almost everything is on Geyserville Avenue.

Stroll Geyserville Avenue. Photo Bo Links

Stroll Geyserville Avenue. Photo Bo Links

STAY

Among the lures of Geyserville are small properties and charming bed-and-breakfast inns. Find wine country hospitality anywhere you stay.

The Victorian Hope-Merrill House was an early stage coach stop and today is a completely restored full-service bed-and-breakfast set among vineyards. It’s recognized as an historical landmark by Sonoma County. Hand silk-screened wallpaper has been meticulously duplicated throughout the house. The walls are lined with numerous photographs and paintings and almost every inch of space is adorned with a decorative piece. The charming guest rooms and bathrooms are unique and comfortable, equipped with Jacuzzi’s (in several), Wi-Fi, and other modern amenities.

The historic Hope-Merrill House. Photo Bo Links

The historic Hope-Merrill House. Photo Bo Links

In the morning, awake to the delicious aroma of a hearty country breakfast. Served in the formal dining room, you’ll be well fortified for the day with fresh fruit and egg dishes, homemade pastries and jams, and French toast. (800-825-4233, hope-inns.com)

Down the road, the family-owned Geyserville Inn is a modern alternative. The rooms are spacious, with beautiful views of vineyards and the Mayacama Mountains, some with fireplaces and patios. (877-857-4343, geyservilleinn.com)

PLAY & SHOP

Walking between tasting rooms is a fun way to sample wines and tour Geyserville Avenue at the same time.

We started at Ramazzotti Wines. The family behind the winery salutes its heritage by growing Italian varietals. These 2015 reds are bold and beautiful: the Sangiovese, the Raffinto (a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc), and the Ricordo (the owner/winemaker’s signature Zinfandel blend with Petite Sirah, Syrah, Alicante Bouchet, Carignane, and Chasselas). (707-814-0016, ramazzottiwines.com)

Visitors get the chance to taste through flights at Locals. With 10 wineries represented in the collective and more than 70 wines available, it’s almost certain you’ll taste something here that you won’t find elsewhere. Choose selections from boutique wineries like Kitfox, Peterson, Pendleton, William Gordon, and Parmesan. The owner is a big supporter of local artists, so enjoy their works displayed on the tasting room walls. You might run into a winemaker behind the bar. (707-857-4900, tastelocalwines.com).

Taste interesting wines at Locals. Photo Bo Links

Taste interesting wines at Locals. Photo Bo Links

In the modern tasting room at Mercury Wines, Mercury rules — find the planet and the winged messenger on wine labels, dimes in a collector’s jar, and, don’t forget, it was the supposed riches to be gained from the mercury mines that lured people to the Alexander Valley in the 1800s. Specializing in Bordeaux blends, they also produce small lots of Tempranillo and Mourvedre. (707-857-9870, mercurywine.com)

Meeker Vineyard has set up shop in an old bank building. From behind teller’s windows and even inside the vault, there’s plenty of wine to taste. Known for their big red blends, don’t miss the Fossil (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot) and the Four Kings (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot). (707-431-2148, meekerwine.com)

When wine tasting is over and you’re ready to relax, head to Lake Sonoma, only about 10 minutes away. Whether it’s to boat, picnic, hike, or camp, the lake is an idyllic spot. (707-433-2200, lakesonoma.com) Or enjoy the heated pool at Hope-Merrill, set among landscaped gardens and sculptures. There’s also a pool at the Geyserville Inn.

For something a little out of the ordinary, check out The Isis Oasis Sanctuary set on more than 10 lush acres. Discover a swan pond and streams and tour the exotic birds, cats, and other animals. In the secluded garden, mellow out in the hot tub and pool. Or participate in the rituals in the Temple of Isis. (707-857-4747, isisoasis.us)

In the historic buildings along Geyserville Avenue, Bosworth & Son General Merchandise has occupied its spot since 1911. The store retains its old-time charm and sells western clothes, jewelry, hardware goods, animal feed, and even cemetery plots. (707-857-3463, bosworthandson.com)

Gin’gilli’s Vintage Home (Italian for “stuff”) is packed with vintage home goods and gifts from eager collectors and vendors. (707-857-3509, vhcg.blogspot.com)

Shopping is limited in Geyserville, so don’t forget to support the wineries you visit by purchasing wines and other products.

DINE

At the casual Geyserville Grille (part of the Geyserville Inn), take in the views of the mountains from either the airy patio, by the pool, or an inside seat. More than 100 years old, the restaurant is family owned. Everything is made in-house, including the yummy garlic fries. Choose from starters like poke nachos and crab cakes, then try wraps and sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes. (707-857-3264, geyservilleinn.com/dining-en.html)

Diavolo Pizzeria & Salumeria, a local favorite, is housed in a former general store. The industrial-chic interior includes exposed brick, backlight bar, sleek furniture, and a large wood-burning oven. Chef Dino Bugica brings his passion for Italy to his cooking. Everything on the charcuterie board is home-cured, including the blood sausage, Guidea hen terrine, and Toscana salami. One of the wood-fired pizzas (called the Sonja after Chef’s wife) incorporates the house prosciutto, tomatoes, mascarpone cheese, and arugula on a crispy crust. The 2014 Lioco “Laguna” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast is the perfect accompaniment. And don’t worry about calories in any of the luscious desserts — walking “home” is the way to go. (707-814-0111, diavolapizzeria.com)

Eat at hip Diavolo. Photo Bo Links

Eat at hip Diavolo. Photo Bo Links

OTHER ESSENTIALS

Geyserville Chamber of Commerce: geyservillecc.com

Discover Geyserville: geyserville.com

Sonoma County Visitors Bureau: sonomacounty.com

Alexander Valley Winegrowers: alexandervalley.org

 

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Patty Burness can be found on Twitter (@pattygb), Instagram (pburness) and reached by e-mail at [email protected]

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