Santa Rosa’s Historic Railroad Square!


The other day, I was invited to Downtown Santa Rosa, on behalf of Sonoma County Tourism, and as I met some other travel writers across the Bay Area, many mentioned how they didn’t realize how thriving the downtown Santa Rosa area has become, or knew about the beauty of Railroad square, so it dawned on me, Santa Rosa, really needs to be written about, so here it is.

Santa Rosa, really a central hub to Sonoma Wine Country, is a fun place to visit, and actually a GREAT place to find some fun gifts for loved ones, especially with the impending Holiday Season! And a GEM that many outside the area of Santa Rosa don’t really know about is the Historic Railroad Square.

Railroad Square:

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Railroad Square developed in the 1880’s, when the first trains descended into Santa Rosa!  The city has continued to develop the area in the past few years, and for anyone local, it’s definitely a little gem within the city.

Flying Goat Coffee:

If you start your day early and need a little pick me up, begin at Flying Goat Coffee.

Omelette Express:

Begin your day with breakfast or brunch at Omelette Express.  Seriously, the BEST place in Santa Rosa to get an Omelette!  If omelettes aren’t your thing, do not worry, they have other breakfast options available including Eggs Benedict, Fruit Bowls, Waffles and more!

After breakfast, begin your descent along 4th St, exploring the Shops along the way.  If YOU love Antique’s, then you will absolutely love Railroad Square, as this is Antique Row in Santa Rosa.

antique-shopping-railroad-square

Shuffles Magical Ice Cream Shop:

Craving ice cream?  Stop into Shuffles Magical Ice Cream Shop where they will perform magic for you behind the counter!  They also occasionally put on full on Magic Shows!  Also, a great place to throw a birthday party if you have a little one.

Holiday Carriage Rides:

During December, Carriage Rides take place along Railroad Square from 11am-3pm every weekend!  A really special time of the year to visit.

6th Street Playhouse:

Love Theater?  Be sure to check out a show at 6th Street Playhouse! In 2004, a new partnership reunited the Santa Rosa Players and Actors Theatre under one board of directors. Together they renovated the 107-year-old Del Monte cannery into the 6th Street Playhouse.

Dinner Options:

There’s some REALLY Great restaurants around Railroad Square, some favorites include:

Jack & Tony’s: A full on Whiskey Bar and Restaurant!

La Gare French Restaurant: Probably known as one of Santa Rosa’s most romantic restaurants! This little gem has been in Railroad Square for well over 30 years! Serving Authentic French Cuisine with many great wine offerings!

The Pullman Kitchen: Always a GREAT option when visiting the Railroad Square area!

The Brasserie & Lounge: Located right in the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel. Convenient for those staying at the hotel.

After exploring Railroad Square you could continue your holiday shopping at the nearby Santa Rosa Plaza, or across the mall, descend into Downtown Santa Rosa, and shop along 4th Street! (which, another post will have to be written about this area!)

 

 

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Seeing The Walnut Harvest In Action!


Disclosure: I was invited on a California Farm Water Coalition Farm Tour of the Sacramento Valley this past October.  This was part of my experience while on tour.  All opinions are my own.

As we head into baking season, those, fresh, walnuts, come to mind, that are added to so many desserts in the coming weeks ahead!

walnuts

But have you EVER thought about how a Walnut is farmed, or how it is harvested?  I have to admit, I never really knew the process either until a few weeks ago when I saw the process in action at Lester Farms.

Lester Farms is located in Yolo County, which also happens to reside in the Sacramento Valley (think area of Winters, CA.)

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Upon arrival, we met up with Stan Lester, owner of Lester Farms.  The farm has been operating since the 1800’s, and has always been a family-owned farm.  The farm started in the Santa Clara area originally, but as Urban Sprawl began, the family begin to look for property elsewhere, and that is when they found the area of Winters, CA.

We then headed closer to the Walnut Trees to take a closer look:

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One of the first things I noticed as we drove through the Walnut Trees was the black trunk below the white trunk.  What I found out, is that the Black Walnut Trunk is used for the planting, then another varietal is grafted on top of the black walnut trunk due to the sturdiness of the Black Walnut.

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The previous weekend, rain has come in, and actually helped the Walnuts open up their hulls; the hulls are what surround the walnuts for protection as they grow. Once the hulls split open, it’s a good sign, the walnuts are ready to be harvested.  A shaker then comes through to knock the walnuts to the ground.

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After the crew has gone through shaking the trees, a sweeper will then come through the rows of trees to sweep the walnuts away from the tree trunks in a long row.  Then another vehicle will come through to pick up all of the walnuts to bring to the processing area.

Once in the processing area, the walnuts are dumped into one area, where they are dropped below ground, then lifted into a conveyor belt to go through the cleaning process:

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Watching them being dumped below was pretty cool watching… actually, it was pretty mesmerizing.

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The Conveyor Belt where the Walnuts are lifted into the area where they will be cleaned:

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During the cleaning process, machinery will take away the extra stems, and leaves that may come in with the Walnuts, then the walnuts are washed and cleaned up.

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After the Walnuts are cleaned, they are then put in for the drying process.  The drying process can take anywhere between 12 and 30 hours!

And that completes the harvesting process for Walnuts!  A huge THANK YOU to Stan Lester and his team for letting us come tour his property during the harvest season, but not only that, the fact that ALL this happened in front of our eyes while we WERE there.

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Lester Farms also owns a bakery in downtown Winters, CA, but more on that in a future post!

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Lodi Wine: Their Varietals May Surprise You!


Disclosure: I participated in an online conversation about Lodi Wine.  Wine Samples were sent out to me on behalf of Snooth.Com; This is what I discovered.

Since my first visit to Lodi over a year ago now, I’ve been intrigued by the region, and what the grape growers and wine makers are doing in this area of California.

This past August, during the Wine Blogger’s Conference, I discovered that the Lodi region has over 100 Varietals of Wine growing in their region!

And that they do more than just Zinfandel, although, they have gotten quite the name for themselves for their amazing, quality Zinfandels, what we’ve been discovering the last few months is that there’s a lot going on beyond Zin.

This tasting with Snooth.Com showcased that in a whole new way:

lodi-wines

Imagine that, of the 4 wines sent to us, none of them were Zinfandels.

The 4 Wines were:

2015 Acquiesce Belle Blanc Wine: Retails: 26.00

Acquiesce Wines have been creating quite the name for themselves in the Lodi region, as this winery only specializes in White Wine Varietals. The ONLY winery in Lodi to be doing this right now.

And, Lodi is finding out, that they have quite the ability to make some incredible white wines, the perfect wine to drink on a hot summer day.

It was an honor to taste the Belle Blance Wine from Acquiesce, a fan favorite throughout the Wine Bloggers Conference this past August.

2014 Lange Twins Nero D’Avolo:

The Nero D’Avolo is an Italian Variety, and this wine from the Lange Twins was the first Nero D’Avolo I’ve tasted, but after tasting this wine from Lange Twins, it quickly became a favorite, and has peaked my interest to try other wines from this varietal.

Also, quite interesting, is that this vineyard was first planted in 2012, but 2 years later, they had to rip the vineyard out. so the fact of trying out this wine from a vineyard that has been ripped out is pretty meaningful for me.

The Lange Twins have replanted the Nero D’Avolo varietal, and will continue to make this wine in the future (a huge favorite of mine now!)

2013 Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah:

I fell in love with Klinker Brick Wines at the Wine Bloggers Conference this past August.  It was pretty surreal having Farrah pour us the Farrah Syrah (the namesake of the wine) during the Red Wine Speed Tasting Session!

After the conference was over, my love of Klinker Brick carried on, as I had to visit the winery in person a few weeks later when I was in the area.  They have a gorgeous Patio area where you could really enjoy a bottle of wine.

I always love pairing a nice Syrah with a good red meat, especially if grilling during the summer.  The spices that come out of a Syrah are a nice pairing with the grilled meat. The Farrah Syrah would be perfect for this!

2013 McCay Cellars Grenache: Retails: 32.00

Lately, whoever I’ve been talking to, wine related, has told me, that they are huge fans of Grenache. So, when I saw McCay Cellars, wines I’ve huge fans of, was sending over a Grenache, I couldn’t wait to try!

And the minute the Grenache hit my lips, I couldn’t put the glass of wine down.  It was really, a wine, that could stand alone, but also pairs quite nicely with food.  As I drank this wine down, I knew, this would become my to go to drinking wine from now on, and it has!

Michael McCay always does a nice job, with creating, quality wines, the Grenache was spectacular, and a huge winner for me.

It was GREAT tasting the wines coming out of Lodi, and exploring more of this incredible California Wine Region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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