Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sonoma to Redwood Forest, California

We had to visit a few more wineries in Lodi.

Klinker Brick was a very welcoming visit.
 Website for Klinker Brick Winery

 Flowers were already out .

 Amazing what you can make with pieces of an old oak wine barrel.

We had a bicycle flat tire which required a new tube.  We were lucky to find Lodi Bike shop.  While we waited we walked some of the downtown streets. A very friendly town.

Jan was tempted by this butterfly rug in a window.
A wide variety of restaurants.  
 We had a great visit to McCay Winery , recommended by a young gentleman at the bicycle shop.
Allen drew a tasting from a barrel of Equity Zinfandel. Two years in the barrel  and about to be bottled.  This would only be sold by the case.  Tempted to order a case.
The following is their website. Marsha and Mark note the Cycling Club menu at the top.  Not sure how many tastings you can do safely and still ride?
McCay Cellars 
When you see the website, click on the "wines"column and go to Equity Zinfandel(the one above).  Note how specific the description is, including the time of day for picking the grapes.
We also chatted about skiing in California and Allen's son, who is now living in the Boston area.
 Our last stop was Jessie's Grove Winery.
 Here we saw the oldest vines in Lodi. One old field of Zinfandel goes back to the 1880's.  
 These are some of the older vines.  Old Vines are at least 25 years old and Ancient Vines, like these, are more than 75 years old.
Are you impressed?  We are learning!

Jessie's had some wonderful fragrant lilacs , as well as rose blossoms.
This link will take you to Jessie's website Jessie's Grove Website

On the property are roosters, chickens, a great old barn, and a tortoise.
From Lodi, we headed west on Route 12 through the delta(rivers emptying into San Francisco area bays) Some are the Sacramento,San Joaquin(flowing from the Sierra Nevada Mountains), and the Napa Rivers. Due in part to the high cost of land in the area of Napa, there are very few campgrounds.  We finally found a site at the KOA in Petaluma. That worked out well because we were given directions for a nice travel loop through Sonoma , mostly on Route 12 from Santa Rosa south through the town of Sonoma. Beautiful ride! Above is the Ledson Winery.
Jan and I welcome you to our new home!
Just kidding!
Yes, it was cool enough for a fire in the fireplace.  We had another great chat with our server.  Part of the discussion was about how the building was modeled after Normandy estates, described as French Normandy Gothic. It has 16,000 square feet and was to be Steve Ledson's home. But, as it was nearing completion, he discovered it attracted too many curiosity seekers and offered too little privacy. So , it became their tasting room.
Ledson Winery Website 
You will find more history and wine info on the website.
Also, you may have noticed that many of these wineries have "wine clubs".  Since many are small vineyards by the number of cases produced, they can sell most of their wines through case lots through wine clubs and tastings. Beyond that , some will firm up contracts with local restaurants.
Ledson's was first along the wine route out of Santa Rosa.
Along the country road, vineyard and tastings rooms.
Quite a few cyclists along the route as well.  They seemed to do well, in spite of it being a narrow roadway.
From Sonoma, we cut back to Route 101 north by way of route 116. That brings us to Lake Sonoma and Liberty Glen, a Corps of Engineer Campground.  A very unusual situation for corps parks that we know.  The notice on the right indicates no showers, no flush toilets, and no drinking water.  It seems it has been this way for years.  Since we do not make reservations, the sign on the left was unusual indicating reservation only, but you can call to pay.  Nice, but there is no cell phone signal or pay phone here. However, there was a very nice camp host who let us use the office phone-a common request.  The thing is---this campground is fantastic.  And the campground was quite busy with tenters and RVers over the weekend. 
Our site was quite level with a great view.
Many of the open areas featured daisies.
 Enjoyed the bloom.
This is  site 80, a tent site in an unopened section. Had the section been opened, it definitely would have been filled

From Lake Sonoma, we were heading for Six Sigma Winery in Lower Lake.  To get there, we headed across Route 101 to Geyserville to pick up Route 128 south, a scenic road, to Calistoga. In Calistoga, we headed north on Route 29 towards Lower Lake.

This was another Harvest Host stop.  And it was so enjoyable.
Lady Blue is below in our camping spot for the night. Jan is at the table where the owner served us the beginning of our tasting.
This is the link to the Six Sigma websites.
Six Sigma Ranch History 
 Six Sigma techniques
We encourage you to browse through the entire website.  We talked with Kaj(pronounced KI-rhymes with "eye"). He and his wife lived and worked in Denmark  for their professional careers.  They both loved farms, Ki worked a farm as a youth.  They wanted a ranch that they could protect and work with good sustainable principles.
We were fascinated that he was slowly taking time to find the best sheep for meat and for grazing the vineyards. Also , finding the best cattle for the same reason.  If you read the history you can see how the ranch became the 4,300 acres it is now.
Kaj was so environmentally attuned and scientifically interested in ranch methods, that he has brought graduate students from Kellogg in Chicago, Duke University on the east coast, and UC Davis here in California. They came about six students at a time and used the ranch as their thesis subject , suggesting ways to create the best business and sustainable models.
He has some great ideas, including a French company that wants to create a campground(tent platforms and cabins) towards the entrance that would also include a restaurant.  The ranch has 38 miles of roads, such as this one we hiked for a bit.The entrance dirt road alone is two miles long.
Some of the grazing sheep working on maintaining the grass
You might need to enlarge(right click) to see the California Quail
What is this?
One of the wild turkeys, who with the quail seemed to take great delight in creating dust baths right behind Lady Blue.
The all-terrain Pinzgauer used for tours of the ranch. It is a military unit manufactured in Britain.
A recent addition to the ranch. This is a pot bellied pig that wandered onto the property from a neighboring ranch. The owner gave him to Six Sigma.By the way, Six Sigma refers to a set of management techniques that greatly reduce the probability of an error or defect.
We then headed north on Route 29, up the west side of Clear Lake. We had thought to stop at the state park, but discovered that it was closed due to flooding from the recent storms. So, we continued to Route 20 west and Route 101 south to Hopland and Jaxon Keys, another Harvest Host. 
This was quite different from Six Sigma. Right on Route 101 , situated in an old ranch house.  A small number of vines located close by.  They have some award winning wines and an excellent brandy , all of which they produce on site.  Not bad roses either. By the way, we also learned that roses are often planted nearby vines because they are the first to give notice of any problems like lack of water, etc, that might affect the vines.
The view from their porch. This is a link to their website Jaxon Keys Winery Website
A view of the vineyards across Route 101. A fairly quiet section of the 101 below Ukiah.
From Jaxon Keys we head north on Route 101 to Richardson Grove State Park . This is towards the beginning of the Redwoods Highway. These redwoods(a bit different from the sequoias) are the tallest living things on the planet.
Another way of looking at the difference between the trees. The sequoias are the widest and the oldest-up to 3,000 years old. The redwoods are the tallest and rely more on the moisture from the ocean---which they can absorb through their tops in addition to moisture traveling up from the roots.
At the foot of these giant trees, the Redwood Sorrel, looking like clover.
Also, a large number or wild Iris.
Jan is looking at a candelabra growing redwood.  Branches grow off each side .  The black burn marks are from years ago. The redwoods are resistant to fires, floods, and insects--thankfully. They can live for over 2,000 years
The Avenue of the Giants--through the redwoods--can be a bit tight at times.
Taking a picture of the entire tree is difficult.
Jan is standing at the foot of one of the largest, located in the Founders Grove on the Avenue of the Giants.
This is a recent casualty of age and storms.One of these downed trees was noted to have started back around 600A.D. and had fallen in the 1930's.  What is amazing is that at a time ,back in the 1800's to only a few decades ago, lumber companies owned much of the land and were intent cutting all of the old trees. Starting in the 1920's , organizers began to lobby to save some of the old growth.
Amazingly, the trees do not have a tap root.  It is a wonder how they stay standing for so long.
Jan has a new term. This is a goose pen. And it was used by early settlers for-------keeping geese and other fowl penned on the farms.The large cavities, usually caused by fires,  do not harm the trees.

The closest downed tree near Jan has been there quite a while--we saw it three years ago.  However, the the top one--looking splintered-- is a fairly new fall.
Some of those construction vehicles at work (Lucas). We see many of these cleaning up the damage from mudslides that resulted from heavy rains this winter.
From the Redwoods we continue on Route 101 north for a stay in Fortuna and then on to a stay here in Klamath, Califronia.
We were going to stay at Elk Prairie Campground further south, but the weather forecast of heavy rain and high winds sent us to a private campground just a mile walk from here. This is the Klamath River on the right, flowing out to the Pacific Ocean out at the surf.
It was a good choice. Wonderful people at the campground. And, as predicted, the storm caused a bit of damage including a power outage affecting over one million customers from Grant pass in Oregon south to Trinidad, California. Our power was out for two days.
Right on Route 101 by Prairie Creek is a large herd of Elk. We have to stop to let them cross the road.  We note that they are beginning to lose their winter coat.
The mist and fog from the ocean drift inland.
A great little campground. Kamp Klamath is proud not to be a resort campground.  Their property includes half of the River and an island that tenters love to use in the summer. They are rated as the best restaurant on the north coast even though they are not a restaurant.  They do serve a number of people on summer weekends with fresh caught salmon from the river, chicken, and other foods ending with a large wood fire and s'mores.We will be checking the weather to head next over the mountains into interior Oregon for a while.

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