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Lush Oak Forest at Matanzas Creek Winery

By Alexa Chipman Feb. 7, 2017

Settled in an oak grove between sweeping vineyards, lavender fields and rolling hills, Matanzas Creek Winery’s cheerful creek runs down the property, forming miniature cascades. The architecture is designed to fit in with its environment, primarily of wood and stone, with small seating areas scattered throughout to enjoy the scenery. They are set up for a fun summer afternoon, with bocce ball court and cornholes, the popular game of tossing bean bags at a target.

Matanzas Creek Winery

The gift shop is carefully curated, with helpful wine accessories such as the Menu Breather Decanter, which allows you to aerate an entire bottle of wine, then easily pour it back into the bottle, lovely cheese sets, wine pairing recipe books, and a wide array of lavender products created by the winery from their gardens. If you need to buy the perfect gift for a wine lover, they are a great place to look, and the prices are reasonable.

Matanzas Creek Winery Gift Shop

Matanzas Creek is primarily known for their sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and merlot. I chose to try their wine and cheese pairing flight, which was $25 and well worth the experience.

Matanzas Creek Winery cheese and wine tasting pairing

2014 Sauvignon Blanc – Knights Valley Helena Bench
It had delicate notes of smoke and fruit in the aroma, with a mineral bite to it on the finish; adding the soft cheese allowed a gentler, more refreshing flavor.

2013 Journey Chardonnay
On its own, I did not find it remarkable, what brought out the flavor was adding orange honey glazed almonds, which blossomed the wine into a luscious nutty flavor.

2013 Cabernet Franc / Malbec – Sonoma County
The nose had a strong berry aroma that was delightful, I could have smelled it all day! The wine itself was unfortunately extremely tannic, but the cherry jam pairing complimented the flavor for an intense combination.

2012 Merlot – Bennet Valley, Jackson Park
I am not a fan of Merlot, and this wine changed my rather biased opinion. It is smooth with a beautiful earthiness to it without that odd aftertaste that many merlots suffer from. It was definitely my favorite of the flight, leading me to also try their 2012 Sonoma County merlot. You can taste anything on their wine list, because they have a Coravin Model 8 available, which can pour wine without opening the bottle, rather a nifty tool to have around!

A quick fifteen minutes from the freeway through quintessential Sonoma County landscapes, this quiet little winery is well worth visiting, especially if you love red wine and are tired of endless pinot noir.

Why visit Matanzas Creek Winery?

  • Beautiful lavender fields
  • Casual wine and food pairings and summer events
  • Postcard perfect creek trail and grounds to explore
  • Gift shop with high quality books, cheese boards, and gifts

Website: www.matanzascreek.com
Hours: Daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
(11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for the cheese tasting)
Location: 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa

Tea Rooms in Sonoma County

By Alexa Chipman    Feb. 1, 2017

Muir's Tea Room Sebastapol
Muir’s Tea Room in Sebastopol

Treat your friends to a relaxing lunch in a quaint Victorian tea room with these two scrumptious options in Sonoma County.

Tudor Rose Tea Room – Traditional English Tea in Santa Rosa

Muir’s Tea Room – California Cuisine in Sebastopol

Ambience & Location

Both tea rooms have a sweet elegance about them and welcoming staff who are attentive and ready to answer any questions you have about the menu. Muir’s includes outdoor seating on the porch and a comfortable rustic feel. Tudor Rose is decorated like the parlor inside a Jane Austen novel. Parking for both is challenging, but there are public lots within a few blocks, and the new train should make arriving in downtown Santa Rosa easier.

Tudor Rose Tea Room Santa Rosa
Tudor Rose Tea Room in Santa Rosa

Luncheon

Muir’s fare includes tantalizing salads and classic Sonoma County cuisine, with a delicate attention to detail and thoughtful presentation. If I want a mouth watering shepherd’s pie, Tudor Rose is where I trace my steps for hearty English “pub grub”.

The Tea

Both offer an intriguing selection of teas which are excellent and worth working down the menu to try, and include endless pots of tea to enjoy or share with friends.

Scones

This is the benchmark of a good tea room. The scone itself is superior at Muir’s, however their tiny bit of jam and butter is not sufficient to spread on it. Tudor Rose gives you heaps of jam and clotted cream, and when you request crumpets, there is also lemon curd.

Sandwiches & Sweets

Sandwiches at Tudor Rose are simple and delicious in relatively large portions for tea sandwiches. Muir’s edges toward presentation over taste, and is better for a light snack. Where they shine is in the sweets, which arrive in seasonal varieties and are worth purchasing on their own.

If you are near Sebastopol or Santa Rosa, consider the tradition of afternoon tea for a delightful dining experience. Both offer reservations for larger groups, and Tudor Rose has an event room for parties.