Today we traded in the horses for two wheels on a bike tour with Goodtime Touring Company. Doug McKesson, who owns and runs the business with his wife Penny, is like a local celebrity. The former mayor of Sonoma, Doug knows everybody. When you ride with him, you get an insiders tour of Sonoma, which is exactly the way I wanted to see the area. Doug runs bike tours of the area through his company Goodtime Touring Company. It’s a gourmet ride, stopping at the award-winning Vella Cheese Commpany, Gundlach Bundschu and a picnic of fresh local foods at Bartholomeaw Park, a historic property.
We met up with Doug and some other locals at Vella Cheese Company, which has been operating since 1931. Ig Vella, the owner, introduced us to some of his award-winning cheeses. It was a breakfast of champions, including Monterey Jack, Asiago and Cheddar cheeses, all aged for various amounts of time. This was some very good cheese and got us ready for our ride.
We rode through the Sebastiani family’s vineyard, which is in the city limits, as Doug told us a bit about the history of the town. The town of Sonoma is really cute. It has a sort of artsy, friendly, small-town feel. I really like it.
We made a couple of stops, so that Doug could explain a bit about the way that wine is made and how you can tell when it’s time to harvest. We passed through a neighborhood, as we made our way to Gundlach Bundschu www.gunbun.com (Gunbun might be easier to say) for a tasting. The ride was beautiful and the weather was just perfect, though it did get a little hot towards the end. We all had to pedal pretty hard on the last hill that leads to the winery.
Gunbun is one of the older wineries in the area. It is another producer of award-winning wines. Our group was happy to head inside to the tasting room to sample a few vintages with Patrick. I learned how to properly swirl, smell and taste test each wine and particularly like one of their Pino Noirs.
Then, we headed outside for a picnic. The picnic is usually at Bartholomew Park, but as usual with our filming, we had taken a long time to actually get to Gunbun, so decided to picnic there.
Penny, Doug’s wife, is quite a gourmet chef. She had prepared a feast for us, as she does for all of the rides. The picnic table was set, complete with a blue and white-checkered table cloth, and filled with Vella cheeses, fresh local seasonal fruit and wine. Penny made a tart with caramelized onions and heirloom tomatoes and a fresh salad. It was really good. We all had a good time toasting the Sonoma lifestyle, as we replenished those calories that we burned on the ride and stuffed our faces with Penny’s good fixings.