For those folks who love Sonoma, wine or Sonoma wines, you might consider a unique gift from these parts. Here are some of my favorites this year:
The best invention since the winepress, the Wine Check lets you travel with your wine bottles and avoid shipping charges on new purchases. The insulated, zippered box lunch-box like contraption keeps twelve bottles safe from breakage during its travels in the airline luggage compartment. The Wine Check currently only comes in red except those custom-made with winery logos, which also come in black. According to my friend, and owner, Shawnda Hansen, no other color offerings are planned. The nifty, rolling wine luggage is available for $54, ($59 with styrofoam shipper insert, which I highly recommend). http://shop.thewinecheck.com/
Have you or a friend ever fantasized about having your own vineyard? California Rootstock sells 18 varieties of rootstock including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. For that first harvest they also have wine-making kits and oak barrels; 20-gallon oak barrels $275, 59-gallon oak barrels $450. http://www.californiarootstock.com/
Also, for those who take their home winemaking seriously, the book From Vines to Wines: The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Your Own Wine by Jeff Cox, wine writer for many magazines and the restaurant reviewer for Sonoma County’s newspaper of record, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Cox is also a contributing editor to The Wine News and Horticulture magazines. He’s written 18 books on food, wine, and gardening, many of which are available on Amazon. About $13 on Amazon. For the photography lover, there’s the 18th Annual Sonoma County Photo Calendar by Robert Janover, $13.95 retail. Order on his Website for $12 each plus $4.90 shipping. http://www.robertjanover.com/2012calendar_order_form.html
And, who doesn’t like chocolate? Ok, some weirdos don’t, but for those who do there’s Sonoma County Wine Country Chocolates. This home-grown business has tasting rooms in Jack London Village in Glen Ellen and their new location in the El Paseo alcove, on the Sonoma Plaza. I’ve tasted this chocolate and it is luscious! They start with a smooth ganache made from their own blended Guittard and Sharffen Berger chocolates, add fresh dairy cream and butter then flavor it with the finest ingredients, including local wines, fruit purees, coffees, liqueurs, etc. They contain no preservatives or waxes, and will stay fresh for up to three weeks. Truffle flavors include Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Port and Champagne. http://www.winecountrychocolates.com/
Of course, gift certificates for hotels stays, gourmet dinners, spa treatments and bottles of fine wine are almost always appreciated, too.