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pacific dazing w/ rosé in hand
Now this post…. part of me does not even want to do it, selfishly, because it has been “our” place between my boyfriend and I. It is off the radar in the best possible way. Not only is it super reasonably priced, but it is only 60 miles away from San Francisco.
If you love wine country, then you will absolutely love Jenner, California.
Jenner is where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. The Russian River is one of the largest rivers in Northern California, which flows through the Mendocino Valley, throughout Sonoma (I used to live right by it when I lived in Healdsburg), and then flows out into the Pacific Ocean. If water is your element, then this will already have you intrigued. It is, hands down, my favourite place to go in Northern California.
Centered around the Russian River is an American Viticultural area, or AVA in Sonoma, which accounts for approximately 1/6 of all planted vineyards in Sonoma! It reaches out from Sebastopol (which is the town we drive through to get to Jenner & one of my absolute favourite towns in wine country), and extends to Forestville.
The Russian River AVA overlaps slightly with the Sonoma Coast AVA, and that is where you can find Jenner. I personally love this AVA since it is so influenced by the Pacific Ocean. I am happy to do a more detailed post on this further for another day if anyone is interested, but for today I am going to focus on Jenner as a travel location (including Timber Cove).
It is only 60 miles away from the city, but once you get off the 101 (the main freeway in California), and head West towards the coast, soon you will be greeted with the 1, quite arguably the most gorgeous highway in the United States. This freeway is so beautiful, because not only is it ocean-side, but you have to take tons of hairpin turns throughout mountains and cliffs. As a result, you are going at about 20 mph so the drive will easily take you over 2-3 hours from San Francisco despite being so close to the city. I also suggest going in the daytime, or before sunset. Not only is dinner via sunset the way to dine there, but there is little to none roadside lighting so it can be a precarious drive. Not to mention, you do not want to miss the gorgeous views!
a secret cove // pebble beach sands // vibes
We have stayed at both Timber Cove Inn and the River’s End hotel. River’s End is in Jenner, proper. Timber Cove Inn is in, shocker, Timber Cove, which is about 15 miles north from Jenner. Jenner is more of a “river town”, where Timber Cove is more of an “ocean town”. Does that make sense at all?
the lobby of the timber cove
More on River’s End in another post – it is absolutely worth a stay one day – but we have a soft spot for the Timber Cove Inn. It has become a real special place for my boyfriend and I. We really love being near the Ocean, so the Ocean rooms very much appealed to us. We have stayed in their Ocean Rooms, Ocean Deluxe, and the Ocean Suite. The rooms range depending on the weekend, but you can find them on average in the high $100s a night. There are also Forest View rooms, which are a little bit less expensive. The Forest Rooms look out to the coves and dense forest. You cannot go wrong with either. They only have two suites on the property which are in the $200 range. Now, real talk, THIS IS EXTREMELY REASONABLE. You can easily stay in other hotels along the coast for triple the price, minimum. Also, if you get the suite, one of the best things about it is that you can walk right outside your private patio and go on a hike.
hiking + sierra nevada // Selfie Sticks seaside
On the hotel’s premises, they have an awesome restaurant called Alexander’s. My boyfriend and I LOVE the place. Depending on the season, you can whale watch. When we went for my birthday in May, my boyfriend saw a ton of whales! I was able to catch the final splashes of a few, but I don’t have his eagle eye vision. Not only is the sunset seriously one of the most gorgeous ones you will experience in California (is it weird that when I am really stressed, I like to close my eyes and think about sitting in Alexander’s as I watch the sun set into the ocean, and take deep breaths?), but the restaurant is set up to gaze into the ocean, as the sun sets.
After dinner, take my advice, and skip dessert! Then, stop by the bar and grab their pre-packaged S’Mores kits (and a drink), take it out to the firepit outside by the ocean, and make yourself dessert.
TIP: For an incredible pairing, go with single malt. We had Oban 18 with our s’mores and it was divine. The smokiness of the scotch complements the sweetness of the marshmallow, and the toffee notes of the scotch pair well with the chocolate. Single Malts & S’mores are my new favourite combo.
Hanging Lanterns at Alexander’s // the fire pit at sunset // s’mores + single malt
Also outside, is a bocce ball court! Bocce is a fun game to play, and even better when you make it a drinking game. 🙂 Another huge perk to Timber Cove Inn, is that upstairs by the rooms, there are very nice chess and checkers boards outside. my boyfriend and I LOVE Chess – we play it almost nightly on the iPad – so we really love when we can sit behind a high-quality board.
Pretty much, when we stay at Timber Cove Inn, we spend most of our time in or on the hotel premises (with breakfast being the only exception). I tend to be an early riser these days, so when I wake up, I go downstairs for coffee, and take it outside with me (all the rooms have patios/balconies), and watch the ocean for hours. I always pick up an extra coffee with a lid or cover for him so he has hot(ish) coffee when he wakes up. Then, as soon as he wakes up, we go to Cafe Aquatica for breakfast/lunch, which is right at the heart of Jenner proper.. Literally, on the mouth of the Russian River. It is about a 20 minute drive from Timber Cove. Everything is fresh, local, & organic – aka win, win & win.
Whatever you do, be sure to get the Eggs All Day.
It is seriously so good. Perfectly poached eggs on toasted foccacia with a garlic-tomato aoili. I like to top mine with a ton of greens and sriracha, and he omits the aoili and adds smoked salmon. Both ways are winning combinations. I need to try and perfect this at home. I also love their chicken pesto sandwich with raw pumpkin seed pesto, and their clam chowder is phenomenal. This is a MUST go if you are in Jenner, but be sure to bring cash since they are cash only.
outside of Cafe Aquatica // eggs all day with sriracha + greens!
Then, we either go wine tasting, hiking, or exploring coves. I personally love Sonoma Coast wines. Most of the wineries there are private, but there is a great tasting room at Fort Ross Vineyards. I reccomend their Sea Slopes Pinot Noir, Mother of Pearl Chardonnay, Pinotage, & Rosé of Pinot Noir – we took home plenty.
At Alexander’s, we discovered a very special wine, called Wild Hog Vineyards. Both, my boyfriend and I fell in love with their Cabernet Sauvignon on first sip. In fact, we purchased a case of it the day we got back from Jenner. When we went the next time, we even got to meet the wine-maker, Daniel, and had a private tour of the winery – where we ended up talking to him for over three hours! He is a great guy, and seriously, all of his wines are absolutely phenomenal. Wild Hog is not available to visit to the public, so you have to request a visit. All orders are done via e-mail, so you will be in contact with the owner & wine-maker – we found ourselves headed back to Jenner, so we gave it a shot, and he was extremely accommodating. In fact, last time we were there, he put us together a very special case of all of his favourite wines that he made. All of his wines are incredible, and he only makes reds. We cannot recommend checking these wines out enough.
wine tasting at Fort Ross // bocce at sunset
Another plus (or this could be a minus) for Timber Cove, is that they provide free wifi to hotel guests. In Jenner/Timber Cove, there is very little reception. It is great if you want to completely disconnect, but if you have some work to tend to (or instagrams to post!), then having internet is helpful.
I need to wrap this post up so I can e-mail my boyfriend and see if we can go to Jenner in one of these upcoming weekends – the conference and event is over, so it is the perfect place to go for some zen vibes.
Stay tuned for Part II so I can tell you all about River’s End in Jenner, and how I dragged my boyfriend to take a cedar enzyme bath with me…