San Francisco-based pro Meredith Kessler will be looking to improve on her seventh-place finish at last year’s Ironman Vineman 70.3 in Sonoma County, Calif., just a little more than an hour outside of San Francisco. The 2010 Ironman Canada winner calls the Vineman 70.3 “a true hometown race!” because she’s able to pick up her packet the day before the race yet still sleep in her own bed the night before. She enjoys racing because of the scenery and proximity to the vineyards: “The course is beautiful—winery after winery, vineyard after vineyard.” Since the race is a half-Ironman, you’ll probably find Kessler and her family and friends at one of these five Sonoma wineries in the Russian River Valley post-race for some lunch and wine tasting.
1. Hartford Family Winery: “Amazing, I mean amazing selection—just what we want in a winery. Great zins and Pinots—those are pretty much all they make.” (Hartfordwines.com)
2. Hanna Winery & Vineyards: “The coolest thing about this place is their Noir (certain blend that is bold). They have the highest field in Sonoma [Hanna’s Bismark Ranch in the Mayacamas Mountains].” (Hannawinery.com)
3. Martinelli Winery: “First-class wine. Our No. 1 favorite taste in wine. We have been members for over eight years and finally were able to purchase their Jackass Hill wine, which is a luxury in the wine world!” (Martinelliwinery.com)
4. Russian Hill Estate Winery: “Amazing views and good, a little less expensive wines—they have a Meredith Vineyard Pinot that my husband always buys for us and an inky Syrah.” (Russianhillestate.com)
5. Martin Ray Winery: “Good, down-home feel that makes a mean Pinot and Cab. Their good stuff is pricey but we got their Meritage in a jug bottle for $13.” (Martinraywinery.com)