One advantage of traveling in December is leaving the inclement weather of New England behind. We left amidst a spattering of snow which did not amount to anything but we did miss the deluge of rain which arrived later in the week. The weather in Sonoma was cool and clear and just right for traveling along the wine trails. The Sonoma landscape is really farmland. There may be fancy gates such as the one above at the winery, Gary Farrell, but the rolling hills are just made more beautiful by the symmetry of the planted vines. I have only ever seen these vineyards in December which is the off season. I love the gnarly look of the old vines. They are specters in the landscape. They have heft and presence don't they? This area is so very different from New England that there is something new to learn every day. Not that I remember everything but some things stick. This is a persimmon tree looking glorious in the sunshine even though no leaves remain. Blue and orange! Poppies in the garden give me this color combination. The view from the porch remains one of my favorite in the world. The mist in the Russian River Valley is purported to be one of the key ingredients to obtaining a good Pinot Noir wine. Not the easiest grape to grow I am told. The EM enjoys the cool view with a hot cup of coffee in the morning. If you ever travel to Sonoma, The Raford Inn is the spot with this view. It is a wonderful, warm, inviting Bed & Breakfast with comfortable and well appointed rooms. Beautiful antiques make this Bed & Breakfast unique. There are many such B & B's in Sonoma but the key to a great vacation is hospitality and none is better than that provided by the innkeepers at The Raford House. Dane and Rita are more than most and they greet you with a smile, cook you a great breakfast, share their home and, sometimes, their hearts with you! We now count them as friends. Thanks Dane and Rita for a great experience.