Alison Bailin is a fixture in wine country, and the Valley-based PR pro and food and beverage writer says she’ll never grow tired of it. Bailin visits the Sonoma County area with her mom, Carol, and her boyfriend, Cory, every year. In all of her “spirited” adventures, she says there is nowhere better than Healdsburg and Dry Creek, where she went this past November. Bailin shares some of her favorite restaurants, wineries and experiences with us.
The Bubble Room
“The only place to go after you land is The Bubble Room,” Bailin says of the on-site restaurant of J Vineyards & Winery. It features an extensive list of Pinot Noirs and sparkling wines. After guests have a glass of wine, chef Carl Shelton serves a five-course meal featuring some of Bailin’s favorites, such as foraged mushrooms and cheese from local cheese mongers. “Oh, Carl!” Bailin says. “The man knows umami!”
Capo Creek Winery
Bailin praises Bob and Mary Roy’s winery for its Kubota tractor tour and its Ultimate Food and Wine Pairing experience, which features a six-course al fresco meal prepared by Mary and a tour of the winery’s many vintage tractors, which have become a hobby for Bob. The Roys are semi-retired radiologists who turned their wine hobby into an entirely new career. “We love it so much there that we became members,” Bailin says.
Farmer and tractor enthusiast Tim Bucher owns this winery and farm, where he grows olives for olive oil. Trattore offers tours where you can see the oil being pressed before your wine tasting, “which is thrilling for a girl like me, who grew up on processed microwave meals and fast food,” Bailin says. Also novel for the city gal: random tractors found all over the farm.
Adventures in Cycling
Wine country can be difficult to navigate, especially with all of the hills. Dave Brazell offers tipplers a boost with his electric bike company. “He is a gem of the region,” Bailin says. “He can arrange picnics and other treats at wineries for you as well.”