Today we have our first guest post! Written by a Mom and trust & estate attorney from San Francisco, Patricia DeFonte shares her unique experience of visiting the Russian River with her family. She describes her favorite activity of her trip (also one of our favorites), which was biking along the West County Trail in Forestville and Graton. She started in downtown Forestville, then biked and wine tasted her way to Graton and back.
First Things First
Always check in with the wineries to reserve tables and double-check on bringing in food, and if children are allowed. This article was written in the time of COVID when the rules are ever-changing.
We rented bikes from Russian River Cycle Service. We were disorganized and had not booked ahead. I would recommend booking because they are very popular. We got lucky because we arrived the moment the opened. They will NOT come and pick you up if you stray too far, so once your legs start getting a little bit tired be sure to turn back! We stopped by the Forestville Pharmacy for allergy pills and sunscreen which was just a few doors down from the bike rentals. It is a blast from the past, and on our way home, we bought a bunch of pinwheels and other silly stuff. Nightingale Breads has wonderful bread and if you are there on the right day, amazing cinnamon rolls.
Biking the Trail
Make reservations at either Russian River Vineyards or Ektimo Wines on your way to Graton and book the other one for your way back from Graton. Russian River Vineyards is huge! They have seating (and sometimes music) among the buildings and behind the building a huge area with picnic tables and a lovely view of the vineyards. Because they have a full-service farm-to-table restaurant, you aren’t allowed to bring outside food. You will take a ton of photos and be there for a while! We loved their fruit and cheese plate and sliders, we wished we had been there on a weekend for the flatbreads. Ektimo is small and there are nice tables outside. It’s not a big production and might be nice on the way back as a final stop.
Graton Food and Wine
From your first tasting, you can then ride all the way to Graton. It’s a nice ride through gorgeous countryside and it is impossible to get lost. In Graton, we were welcomed by a huge sculpture by Patrick Amiot at Purple Wine and Spirits. We first went to Paul Matthew Vineyards, where we wound up buying a case of wine. The backyard is just lovely with very socially distanced picnic tables. They invited us to bring our lunch in and we were able to bring our bikes into the garden for safekeeping. We ordered lunch from the Willow Wood Market Cafe next door. I recommend ordering and telling them you’ll be back in an hour to take your lunch to go and go wine tasting next door at Bowman Cellars (or of course vice versa!). Bowman is retro-chic, we really enjoyed their wines. Then you will have time to bike down to Occidental Road and back. Once you get to Occidental Road there is traffic. We did it and decided to turn back instead of heading to Sebastopol and we were so glad we did! The path to Sebastopol is along a very busy road and biking all the way back is not for day-trippers or people with kids.
One Thing I Missed
Backyard in Forestville has a terrific reputation, especially for their fried chicken. We were so full from the Willow Wood Market Cafe lunch that we decided to pass on picking up takeout from Backyard for dinner. Next time!!
We had terrific photos taken with a local photographer, Kirsten Melligan. She met us a Sunset Beach, just a 10-minute drive from Lucky Bend Lookout. Here we are thinking we know how to skip stones (we don’t….)
On our way home to San Francisco, we stopped at Sebastopol’s Florence Avenue to see Patrick Amiot’s sculpture art. Park anywhere and enjoy a 5-6 block stroll up one side of the street and down the other. Great for all ages!
Guide to the Top 3 Family Adventures
The Graton bike ride that Patricia wrote about is included in our Free PDF Guide to the Top 3 Family Adventures along the Russian River. The 3 adventures are about Tubing on the Russian River, Biking & Wine Tasting on the West County Trail, and a Treasure Hunt Hike at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. (at the moment, Armstrong Woods is closed due to fire damage, but it is scheduled to open in time for summer).
The guide includes:
🗺 Simple Maps
✅ Easy Instructions
🍔 Tips for where to get food before and after
This post was brought to you by Patricia DeFonte from DeFonte Law PC. Patricia is an estate planning attorney in San Francisco. She works with happy, proactive people to create estate plans that promote family harmony and address the wellbeing of the beneficiaries. Patricia believes that estate planning is a social justice issue. Her pronouns are she and her.