With our move to Ireland just weeks away, we have been trying to fit in a bunch of things – including visits to and with the people we’ll miss most while we’re gone – before we are out of time. Part of what I’m calling the Caudill Farewell Tour included a long weekend up in Geyserville for the 4th of July. We are long-time wine club members at Mercury Wine up in Geyserville so we used those privileges to rent the loft above the wine store in Geyeserville for the weekend. After hitting a ton of traffic on the way up we ate a late lunch at Diavola, maker of a damn fine pizza, before jumping next door for a quick taste with Grady. We met the lovely Ana and learned that the wine we won the blending competition with a couple of years ago is now a tasting room top seller (of course it is!), and were invited down the road to Catelli’s for happy hour. Grady and Brad also graciously extended us an invitation to their 4th of July extravaganza on the river the following day. We had plans to kayak down the Russian River and then hang out in Guerneville for the rest of the day, but we happily accepted the invite as we knew we’d spend the day surrounded by great people and amazing food.
After our 5 mile kayak from Guerneville to Monte Rio the following morning (we definitely need a place on the Russian River when we move back!), we ran to the store to get all the fixings for me to cook up my white trash corn bread (not sure where that name came from – it’s what was given to me with the recipe over a dozen years ago) and then met up with everyone at Brad’s friend’s house and vineyard before hopping in Brad’s truck for a bit of offroading to the party site. I tell you, it took me back. When I was 15 and 16 with both friends and family we’d head out to the river in the desert spending all day there eating, drinking, playing in the water, and generally just having a blast. As Brad and I mused, it harkened back to both of our hillbilly roots. I may, or may not, have sung some Beyonce in the river with Danny. As the sun went down, we were treated to damn fine barbecue, some fireworks in the river, and then a late night off-road trip back to the house to say goodnight.
The next day was a bit rough for me (ahem … margaritas), but we made it out of the house for a drive through the Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys out to Jenner for dinner at River’s End, before driving back for the night. Along the way we stopped for several beautifully scenic pictures before calling it a night. On our final day in wine country, we woke up early and had coffee overlooking Main Street, before heading down the road for breakfast at the Geyserville Grille and then driving home with 17 bottles of Mercury wine. It was one of those weekends where you don’t have a lot of plans, just let the days unfold in front of you, and then you look back and you realize how awesome everything was. As I told Alan when we were home, it’s good to have good friends. I’m going to miss those crazy guys when we’re gone but I’ve told Alan that on our return visits we’re definitely making a point to drive up there for the day.