Park Bench Chat

A Gastronomic Excursion from the Golden Gate

Explore California’s agricultural heritage from coastal dairy farms to the estate vineyards of Napa Valley. We will begin our journey at Cavallo Point, an understated luxury lodge set in an idyllic location at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. The next morning, we will take a guided walk in Gerbode Valley, once envisioned for a “new town” of 20,000 people before a 1960s conservation effort protected the valley as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and helped to launch the founding of The Trust for Public land.

From there we will travel one of America’s most scenic coastal highways to the hamlet of Bolinas, where we picnic at Warren Weber’s Star Route Farms, the oldest continuously certified organic grower in California. Following an afternoon hike with experts from the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, we will arrive at our home for two nights, Manka’s Inverness Lodge, a 1910 lodge built in Arts and Crafts Style in the heart of the national seashore overlooking Tomales Bay.

We have invited Helge Hellberg of Marin Organic—an innovative association of organic producers in Marin County—for a conversation on local organic farming and ranching and the vital connection between conservation, healthy food, and healthy communities. As the primary link between farmers and eaters, Marin Organic is committed to promoting an organic agriculture in which growers and the people who rely on their products recognize their mutual interdependence.

The next morning, we will explore Point Reyes National Seashore with a walk to wild Abbotts Lagoon Beach, which attracts thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl in fall and winter. And we will visit Limantour Beach, a popular location for viewing raptors. Having worked up an appetite, we will enjoy a farm-fresh lunch in friendly Point Reyes Station—including such local delicacies as cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and world-famous Hog Island Oysters—followed by an afternoon of biking, kayaking on the bay, or relaxing in the serene surroundings of our lodge.

Leaving the coast, we will journey through bucolic landscapes for two nights in St. Helena, in the heart of Napa Valley. That afternoon, we will hike on the sweeping hills and through the classic oak woodlands of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park—assembled from historic ranches in a series of TPL projects.

Mary Weber Novak and her daughters have invited us for an evening at Spottswoode Estate Vineyard and Winery. Founded in 1882, Spottswoode is a local leader in organic production, noted for its gardens, historic buildings, and world-class cabernet. Our evening speaker will be Andrew Beahrs, author of Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens. The book is inspired by Mark Twain’s 1879 journey across Europe: unhappy with the local cuisine, the author composed menus of his favorite foods from home.



    Dates: Sept. 20-25, 2011
    Days/Nights: 6/5
    Max Group Size: 14
    Price (Per Person):
    Double $3,571  Single $3,971