Top 10 Farm Vacations
From rustic (goats and chickens) to regal (fine English china), there's no better way to embrace the pleasures of fall than a weekend on the farm
Many things in life are unearned and that’s no good. I didn’t know that yet on my first morning at Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma County, where I’ve come to hone my farming chops.
You see, around late fall every year, I get an intense craving to be close to the earth. My magic potion is time on a farm. The act of moving soil. Savoring the simple life without the extras. I disclose here that the Farmhouse Inn has tons of extras, and that I’m on my way to farming grapes at the inn’s Soil to Table wine workshop. Pinot Noir. Hardly a basic need.
(Soil to Table―A Wine Workshop is free with a two-night stay. Steal Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth’s wine savvy at Saturday tasting classes, then hit the bath bar, s’mores bar, and hot cocoa–tasting bar. Considering the extras and the usual price of Sonoma lodging), it’s worth the $275 starting rate (breakfast included; farmhouseinn or 800/464-6642.)
A day at the Farmhouse Inn
The inn’s owners, fifth-generation Sonoma County farmers (and siblings) Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, know that you can’t start a day of hard work without a good breakfast. So I begin the day with apple sweetened ever so lightly with autumn honey.
Sunny-side-up huevos rancheros with avocado salsa on a crispy homemade tortilla. A flaky baked-with-love scone, compliments of the kitchen. After fueling up, I’m whisked down the winding two-lane country road to Barlow Lane to the Bartolomeis’ neighbor, Paul Sloan, and his Small Vines Viticulture farm.
After assigning gloves and shears, Sloan talks a bit about the elements of his biodynamic system. I get nicked. I inhale earth. My sweat falls into the soil. Yet I’m positive that any trueblood would describe this experience as “soft-core farm,” because, let’s face it, within an hour I’m eating again (lunchtime!), and within a few hours more, I’m underneath a smattering of Sonoma stars, melting my Valrhona chocolate and marshmallow over the inn’s firepit.
Shortly, I’ll be in the built-in sauna in my cottage. Even before that, I’ll take a hard-earned pull on a glass of Pinot. Despite the amenities I enjoy, I do understand the basic need of soft-core farm: I’ve been useful, and what I drank and ate is pretty well-earned. I feel good.