Category: winery

My Favorite Small Town Getaway

Last summer after dropping off our youngest son at college in New Jersey, we visited wineries on the return trip to break up the endless miles. Once home we discovered quite a few wineries in our area. Now I had a goal I could really get behind–visiting local wineries!

I found Valley View, Texas because of a billboard advertising its local winery. What I never expected was to also find a Texas getaway gem in this town of seven hundred fifty-seven people.

The minute I drove into Valley View, my tension drifted away with the warm Texas breeze, and that was even before I had a glass of Firelight Vineyard’s sangria! The town reminded me of my childhood spent at my grandparent’s farm in northeastern Iowa. There was open space, trees, horses and cows. Often all in one front yard. There life doesn’t speed by. Neighbors know each other. Everyone’s friendly and laid back. Whenever I’m there I run into someone who wants to talk. Whether it’s someone at the winery, a local business owner, or an Army/Air Force Veteran. Whenever I hear Josh Gallagher’s “Pick Any Small Town” Valley View’s the one I’d pick.

The last year has been stressful, so for our anniversary, my hubby and I headed to Valley View for a getaway weekend. We wanted to spend time away from email, texts, social media, and other city commitments. For us, when we’re away from the city and in the country, life’s troubles fade away and we focus on what’s important—each other and family. The drive to our B&B, Towering Oaks Haven, took us on a gravel road, once again reminding me of my childhood. The fast-paced-need-to-get-ahead-world disappeared. We spent the weekend wandering around antique stores, shopping at my favorite boutique Rustic Ranch, and becoming reacquainted with each other. We weren’t on our phones constantly. We weren’t worried about spotty internet service. We connected with those around us, rather than those on social media sites. We listened to stories, told some of our own, and were simply in the moment. We ate fantastic gourmet pizza from Lil’ Brick Oven delivered to us at the winery. After that, we listened to the David Alexander Trio while sitting on the Firelight Vineyard’s patio chatting with someone my husband knew from years back and a wonderful couple from Oklahoma.

Life was simpler, personal and connected. And I loved every minute of it.

I remembered why I write stories set in small towns, because of the feelings I rediscovered in Valley View. Because of the way I felt at my grandparents’ farm and in their small town.

I can back rejuvenated and my head spinning with story ideas! A Texas winery owner heroine and a rancher in a small Texas town trying to revitalize the town square. Hmmm. It’s a start.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your favorite getaway spot that rejuvenates your body and soul. Enter a comment for a chance to win the wine charms and a wineglass from FIrelight Vineyards.

 

 

Wining and dining in the vineyards of Sonoma County by Charlene Sands

Charlene-with-Books Hi Everyone!

Today I’d love to share with you my recent travels to Northern California for a dear friend’s wedding, and as we drove past San Francisco, via the Golden Gate Bridge, we were treated to some of the most glorious scenery I’ve ever witnessed.  Vineyards abounded all along the highway and the inroads of small towns and bigger cities, until we reached the historic town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, where we spent a few fun days. Thousands of years ago, Sonoma was home to the Pomo Indians, but now ranks as a top seller of fine wines.  Now, I ask you, is this not a beautiful sight? H grapes

Healdsburg was voted one of the Top Ten Smallest Towns in America due to the three most important award-winning wine producing regions of Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River in Sonoma County.  Healdsburg population is 11, 254.  After the Gold Strike in 1849, many who didn’t find riches in gold, found something almost equally beneficial in this verdant rich farmland.  Healdsburg

In 1857 there was a “squatters rights” war called the Westside Road War and Harmon Heald, an Ohio entrepreneur was one of the winners and Healdburg was founded.  Harmon Heald was quick to construct a post office and general store in what is now called Downtown Healdsburg. He laid out a town grid and sold lots for $15 each and plotted his town in the Spanish style plaza design.  The plaza still stands today and is host to free concerts, picnics and lively events.  The town flourished with the arrival of the Northwestern Pacific Railway. H plazaH horseH breweryHere are some pics of the plaza and a gorgeous horse sculpture near the entrance of City Hall.  And of course, where do we choose to eat lunch while in Healdsburg in the heart of wine country?  Well, at a brewery, of course!   I’m not sorry, the fish and fries were delicious!H cupcakesOh and the dessert was wonderful too.

As we toured around the amazing wineries of Sonoma and the miles and miles of vineyards, I found many that have been in business for over 100 years!

H vineyards

Here we are attending the wedding in Santa Rosa, just 12 miles from Healdsburg at the Paradise Ridge Winery.  I tell a harrowing story on Facebook about how we got completely lost in the maze of vineyards and if not for a lovely older couple guiding us out, we would never have made the wedding in time.  But in the end,  we did and much fun was had.  H winery wedding

I love learning the history of regions we travel.  I find it so intriguing how towns get started and get their names.  Do you love learning tidbits about places you visit?  Does your town have an unusual history?  Do you drink wine (if so, what’s your fav?)  or are you more a beer or soda kind of person?  I’d love to give away a backlist book and other goodies to one blogger today.  Winner announced over the weekend!  Be sure to check back!

Updated: September 5, 2016 — 6:42 pm
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