My husband and I recently headed out to Sonoma County to check out some of our favorite wineries and celebrate our anniversary a little early. As we were planning the trip, I kind of spaced booking a hotel room- and as we came closer and closer to our flight, the rooms around Santa Rosa were quickly filling. Not to mention, as we headed out during the grape harvest- one of wine country's most popular tourist times- rooms were a lot more expensive than other times of the year. I checked out airbnb- a booking site that you can use exclusively through an app- and came across a find that is probably one of the best places to stay in the area!
I had never used Airbnb before, so I wasn't super sure what to expect (though we have used other owner rental websites in the past). When I found Chris and Audrey's place, Inn the Vineyards, I knew I had to stay there! Not only was their property completely stunning, it was very reasonably priced, and they had numerous glowing reviews so I felt it was fairly safe booking with them. Considering hotels in Sonoma County around Santa Rosa and Healdsburg can easily run over $300 a night, it was a great find!
Airbnb made it totally easy- I offered a booking for the room, and they ran a background check on me (which was very comforting, as this is a place where others might be staying- it's nice to know Chris and Audrey had safety of their guests in mind!) and then the hosts chose to accept or decline our offer. I expected to wait for a few days to hear back, but Chris and Audrey got back to us right away. Airbnb then charges you, and you don't have to worry about settling up payment during your trip. It's incredibly convenient!
Inn the Vineyards is situated down a fairly rural road in the middle of vineyards. It is completely serene, quiet, and lovely! It is far removed from the noise of the highway, and outside of the owner's cars and some tractors mending the vines, I never heard a vehicle while staying with Chris and Audrey. I felt like I was a million miles away from everything, though we were within 10-15 minutes of just about anywhere we wanted to be.
There were even some cows who came to visit us as we lounged on the patio to eat one night. And as for location- you cant get any closer to the best food and wine! There are tons of delicious restaurants in the area, but I am not ashamed to say a majority of our meals while out there were from the Whole Foods in Santa Rosa in the form of delicious bread and local cheese. They have a fantastic selection of locally sourced cheeses- including a wide variety from Cowgirl Creamery. Their craft beer and cider selection was spot on, and they had a diverse and well priced selection of local wines. We also bought every carton of Blue Bottle New Orleans Coffee each day to get our fill of the lightly sweet, rich, and subtle chicory laced brew.
The spacious patio at Inn the Vineyards was a perfect place to watch the sun rise and set, or just take in some quiet moments watching hot air balloons float overhead.
The two upstairs rooms were neatly decorated, and featured well equipped ensuite bathrooms, and huge closets. There was a comfortable lounging chair, a lovely window bench, a soft and lovely bed, and lots of dresser drawers. They don't have cable TV (which was lovely, frankly), but did offer free wireless, a large flatscreen TV, and hulu/netflix so there were plenty of entertainment options while not out enjoying the area.
While we were in town, we checked out the Kendall Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival, the La Crema Tasting Room in Healdsburg, the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, and the Matanzas Creek Winery. We felt like we were perfectly situated to enjoy it all!
Inn the Vineyards was close to everything- including the amazing dinner we had at the michelin star awarded Farmhouse! I know it's a little odd for a food blogger to NOT take extensive photos of their meal- but the Farmhouse had romantically dim lighting, and as this was an early anniversary dinner with my husband, I decided to enjoy his company and the food without my camera or phone- which I am embarrassed to say is not easy for me! I don't regret that decision for a second- so you'll have to settle for some of our thoughts about the meal without photos.
It was, however, one of the most delicious dinners I have ever eaten, and one I will no doubt head to again. We had the four course meal with wine pairings, and everything was superb. Our favorites were the grilled octopus, the pork belly and the rabbit.Honestly- if I could live off one food for the rest of my life, I would be comfortable with Chef Steve Litke's grilled octopus was thick and perfectly salty, and had a very slight rubbery texture that quickly gave way to a buttery richness as you ate. Their sommelier had a lot of information for us, and asked if we'd prefer local wines or international offerings. When we asked him to surprise us, he presented us a neatly printed menu rolled into a scroll and wrapped with a tidy jute twine so we could take the list of wines home and pair them with our own meals. It was a fantastic touch!
Staying at a quaint B&B and dining at such a small, romantic restaurant was very reminiscent of our honeymoon on the Isle of Skye in Scotland's Highlands where we stayed at a small cottage and dined at Three Chimneys, which was likewise impossibly chic, romantic and full of fresh local flavors sourced not far from the restaurant.
We were bummed we couldn't check out Kendall Jackson's Par-Take while in Healdsburg, but as their staff works the Heirloom Tomato festival, they were taking some well deserved time off that night. Next time!