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|Alumni Travel Program - Sonoma Valley|
Wine, Dine and Design - Sonoma Valley
Spend four days in Sonoma County where you will experience world-class wine tasting and gourmet restaurants, along with stimulating discussion of winery architecture. This tour will be led by Sonoma County-native, and Hiram College professor, James Thompson.
About Your Host
Along with his study of politics, James is also very interested in architecture, and teaches a course at Hiram on the relationship between political ideologies and architectural styles. Furthermore, he is a founding member -- along with Hiram president Tom Chema -- of the Jaoquin Weiss Institute, which is dedicated to preserving the past and promoting the future of Cuban architecture.
Fee: $2,000 per person
Participants are responsible for their airfare and transportation to/from the hotel.
These two wineries are not merely attractive destinations gastronomically and aesthetically, but they also have adopted architectural styles – Romanesque and French Renaissance, respectively – which are thoroughly "imported" to the area, and thus offer excellent starting points as we trace the evolution of winery architectural style as it moves from being pleasantly foreign to fully 21st Century Sonoma County-ian.
12:00 noon - lunch at VJB, in Kenwood
Owned by friends of Professor Thompson, this is an architectural collage of buildings housing a wine storage-and-tasting facility, a spectacular dining room, gelato bar, and a deli. Brief presentation during lunch by Professor Thompson regarding the winery architecture which will be viewed that afternoon.
The gothic architecture of the former, while interesting, is the most aesthetically out-of-place of any winery which will be seen on the trip – and arguably, is the most out-of-place in the entire county – and thus indicates the importance of finding a locally appropriate architectural style. The style of Chateau St. Jean then provides the first clue as to what that might look like, insofar as it seeks to present a location-conscious building which reflects the soft-toned aesthetic of the region, while nonetheless being one of the county's most impressive venues.
10:00 a.m. - drive to Bodega Bay, on the Pacific Coast
Not only a world famous champagne brand, but it has a stylish, understated architectural profile which moves more towards an authentic expression of Sonoma County taste.
After champagne tasting, then travel to Hops Kiln Winery, which occupies a landmark local building that used to be a hops-drying facility, and which expresses an early sense of Sonoma aesthetic style.
10:00 a.m. - drive to the town of Healdsburg, which has become – over the last decade or so – the most exclusive destination in the county
A personal friend of Professor Thompson, he will provide a no-doubt unforgettable introduction to his art, and to Healdsburg in general.
No winery in the county does a better job of marrying European style to the Northern California sensibility than Jordan, which echoes a French chateau while being very much a Sonoma destination. Stryker, on the other hand, is indeed the perfect distillation of a contemporary, purely Sonoma County aesthetic, and thus it functions as the architectural culmination of the trip. A final architectural discussion will be held on the grounds, accompanied, of course, by wine and cheese.
This winery is unique in Sonoma County, offering as it does not only wine tasting, but also a museum of Coppola movie memorabilia, and a sophisticated, stylish restaurant.