Its 100 degrees in Sonoma and the air conditioning is broken.
The wine-loving inn keeper is struggling to kickstart the air conditioning in our quaint cottage outside of the town center. My travel buddy and I carefully unload some bags from the rental car, while trying not to melt in the sun. Our stomachs are growling from skipping breakfast in San Francisco in order to get to Sonoma as soon as possible. We drop our bags on the bed, slouch over the cottage chairs, and guzzle the remaining cold water from the last hotel. Must get food.
Sometime after scarfing down deli-shop paninis, we (intentionally) ran into an ice cream shop.
Tip #1 for surviving California heat: get ice cream
Arguably the best place to get homemade ice cream in Sonoma is a small shop called Sweet Scoops. With everything from Mint Chocolate Chip and Salted Caramel to Chex-Mix-A-Lot and Lavender Lemon, this store has something for everyone (yes, they even have vegan options).
We returned to the cottage post-ice cream sesh to find both the innkeeper and an electrician (slightly) fumbling over the AC unit. Somehow, extra heat was stuck in the little room and trapped to the point where it felt like an incredibly dry sauna (had it been eucalyptus scented with a stand of cold washcloths and iced lemon water… I may just have stayed). The electrician stood on a rickety chair and twisted his arm around the unit, as his Bottle Rock festival wristband shook in the stale heat. I made eye contact with my travel buddy and we both agreed, it was time to go.
What better to do in Sonoma than wine taste?
The next escape was the Benzinger Family Winery, a stunning estate on a biodynamic farm (apparently the “highest level of organic”) with vineyard tours and wine library tastings.
After strolling along the estate, I naturally found myself in the air conditioned wine tasting center, peering at the organic certification criteria as my partner-in-crime ordered a set of tastings.
Six sample tastes, an hour in AC, and 3 purchased bottles of chilled wine later… we were ready to go.
The Last Resort
After driving around Sonoma trying to find a shady picnic spot, while Facetiming my little sister (Hi Kenz!), we gave up and decided to head back to the cottage. Upon pulling into the driveway and seeing the electrician’s car, we immediately U-Turned and headed into town…
… where we found ourselves in a movie theatre parking lot. In wine country. Desperate for AC… So we went inside.
Fortunately for us, the movie theatre was in such poor condition that there were virtually no employees to yell at us as we drank directly out of our chilled wine bottles in the back row of the theatre. I learned two things from this experience:
White wine tastes even better when you are overheated
Wine bottles are the perfect size to fit in movie theatre cups
As we walked out of the movie theatre, we stumbled out to cool, fresh air.