Monday, October 19, 2009

GTO's ,Wine and Peanuts

Crossword fans Linus and Nanc, the kite eating tree, Charlie Brown
Woodstock, Snoopy, Lucy
The ever hopeful Charlie Brown and Lucy.
Some of the star skaters who have been on Snoopy's Home Ice.
Inside the tasting room at Stryker Sonoma. The view from the winery and the Cabernet grapes waiting to be picked.
At the Simi Winery the original building was constructed by Chinese who had worked on the railroad. All the red and most whites are stored in oak barrels. They still use the old wooden vats along with new stainless ones.

One evening we decided to drive to Sebastopol to have dinner at GTO's, the seafood restaurant we found when we were here in the spring. When we walked through the door Tess (T) greeted us as if we were long lost friends and wanted to know all about our summer travels. Gene (G) was in his usual place behind the bar and said he was glad the Penguins won, remembering we watched a game of the Stanley Cup finals there. So if you want great food and to be treated like a local go to GTO's if you are in the area.

We had a great afternoon at The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. The complex includes displays of his and other comic strips through the ages, an ice rink, and of course the ever present large gift shop. Schulz, who was know as Sparky after a character in the comic strip Barney Google, began his career before WWII and after the war sold a few strips to newspapers and magazines. Peanuts, a name he did not like but the one chosen by the publishing company, debuted in seven newspapers in 1950 and was in over 2600 dailies around the world when Schulz retired in 1999. Ironically, the last original strip ran on February 13, 2000 one day after his death. The museum showed the evolution of Charlie Brown and the other characters over the years and the many themes, ranging from sports to music, that where the focal point of the series. A few of the many Charlie Brown TV specials are shown daily in the theater. A highlight is the mosaic ceramic mural made from ten years of strips that shows Charlie Brown and Lucy in the famous long running kick the football theme. The work of many other cartoonists is also on display. We enjoyed reading the various strips and listening to many people laughing out loud as they read the strips.

The nearby Redwood Empire Ice Arena, Snoopy's Home Ice, was opened in 1969 by Schulz who was an avid hockey player. Through the years the rink has hosted many hockey tournaments, including several of the world senior games. The arena has had skating exhibitions by many figure skating champions. When Olympic skaters appeared they would sign their names in wet concrete in the sidewalk. One of these skaters is Michael Seibert whose father was a principal at Wash High while I worked in the district. The museum is a must visit for any Peanuts fan and the entire complex is a worthwhile stop for those passing through Santa Rosa.

We continued our fall wine tasting adventure visiting three more Sonoma wineries. Merriam Vineyards is a smaller operation that specializes in reds. The tasting room is a New England style building reflecting the owners roots. Along with the wines we had a couple of unique cheeses and a great tasting olive jam. We were the only people there and received first class treatment. We bought one bottle but after further consideration Nanc decided we "needed" another. When we returned the second time owner Peter Merriam was there and signed the bottle for us.

Next we ventured into Alexander Valley, an area known for its Cabernet. We did a tasting at Stryker Sonoma, a newer vineyard that is housed in a very contemporary building with a glass enclosed tasting room overlooking the fields of vines. This is a little larger operation and there were several couples enjoying the tasting. The fantastic views and the fabulous wines made for a great afternoon of sipping and conversation.

For our final winery we chose Simi Winery, one of the oldest continually operating wineries in the US. They even produced wine during Prohibition for the church to use for communion. I bet there were a lot more people attending church and taking communion back then. At Simi they offer a tour in addition to the tasting. This is something we wanted to do since most places don't show you the inside operation. It was near the end of the harvest so only a few grapes are still being picked and the day we were there it rained so there was less activity then normal. We did get to see the crushers (no they don't foot stomp them any more), the huge fermentation vats and the stacks of oak barrels with aging wine. This was a very good overview of the wine making procedure from the time the grapes arrive until the wine is moved to the bottling plant down the road. The tasting was a sit down affair with the usual detailed explanation of each variety we tried. Simi is a much larger winery and offered a great many wine.

We visited a total of five wineries and each was very unique. There are so many here it is impossible to do more than a few, but the wines were all great. We don't think you can really go wrong because if you don't like a particular place you can move on down the road to the next one.


mick said...

Jim and Nanc enjoyed your trip as much as you , have a good holiday mick

mick said...

just learning how to do this Tom and Georgia gave me blog address the grill is still the same old same ,keep the good work up on blog , and enjoy your life mickey