Rosé the robot butler is at the door.
My wife and I have just arrived at Hotel Trio Healdsburg. We’re eagerly anticipating a day of wine tasting here in Sonoma County. While we’re unpacking the phone rings, which is how guests are notified of a visit from the hotel’s popular “social distancing ambassador.”
You never forget your first room service delivery from a robot butler. Rosé is about three feet tall, cylindrical and has a stainless steel exterior. Her “face” is a touchscreen. Her “head” has a compartment that can be loaded with whatever you’ve ordered—towels, treats, a bag of ice.
In this case, Rosé is delivering a bottle of 2014 Comstock Zinfandel, a welcome gift for my wife and I, who are celebrating our wedding anniversary.
Jules, my always-gracious spouse, verbally invites Rosé inside. But this roving robot butler is only programmed to make trips from the lobby desk to the outside of guest rooms.
We’re both tickled to be interfacing with a ‘bot. A flurry of selfies and videos ensues.
It occurs to me that this delivery droid’s name perfectly fits the Billy Joel narrative of our anniversary (or “corona-versary”) vacation. My wife and I are Joel fans. I popped the question at his San Diego Petco Park concert—during the song “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” We got married in an Italian restaurant. As in the song’s lyrics, we “decided the marriage would be at the end of July.”
And following along with his lyrics and our wine-tasting adventure, we’re now confronting… “A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle from Rosé instead.”
Snicker. All due apologies to the legendary singer/songwriter.
Hotel Trio Healdsburg
Rosé has been serving and entertaining guests since Hotel Trio opened in 2018. The pandemic was an appropriate cause to rebrand the robot butler as a social distancing ambassador.
The hospitality industry has taken a huge hit due to coronavirus, but when the state of California mandated that hotels could re-open, business has ticked upward.
To entice staycations, Hotel Trio is offering packages that help celebrate anniversaries and celebrations, as well as indoor camping experiences and outdoor picnics in historic downtown Healdsburg.
To meet coronavirus safety challenges, Hotel Trio has Marriott’s Commitment to Clean program in place. Guests and staff are masked. One notable modification: Since no indoor dining is allowed, the property’s free breakfast amenity is “grab-and-go.”
All 122 of the extended-stay hotel’s suites have full kitchens. After a guest checks out, all the in-room dishes, flatware and glassware get swapped out and deep cleaned.
Traveling with kids? Some suites have bunk beds. The property also has a family-friendly pool, and outdoor firepits where you might opt to gather for a round of s’mores.
There’s even a bocce ball court—with glow-in-the-dark balls available for casual nighttime fun. (Try as I might, I can’t think of any Billy Joel lyrics that reference bocce ball.)
Hotel Trio is named in honor of Healdsburg’s three wine-producing regions—Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley. The area is quaint, picturesque and filled with country roads that would’ve inspired John Denver.
We road tripped to Sonoma from San Diego by car. We’re here to do wine tastings and have no intention of drinking and driving on Sonoma’s country roads.
I researched a few car services and almost went with a company that offers a super cool Model X Tesla with wing doors.
Pro tip: Check out a business called Valet of the Moon. This company (backed by business liability insurance) provides a driver who will chauffeur you around in your own car. The fee is nearly half the price of competitors who offer their town cars and SUVs.
The Valet of the Moon owner’s daughter, Colleen Garrow, arrives at Hotel Trio wearing a face mask below smiling eyes. I give her my keys. She’s a delightful human being, an excellent driver and a font of local information.
I preplanned and booked three winery visits. It was no small feat to select the locations and arrange timing for our anniversary itinerary. Note: Most tour companies will take on this chore for you.
Sonoma Wine Tasting
First stop: Jordan Winery. I picked the French bistro lunch offering here called “Paris on the Terrace.” We dine—socially distanced from other couples—under the shade of an oak tree a few yards from the winery’s ivy-covered chateau.
French accordion music fills the air. Warm, fresh focaccia bread comes straight out of a pizza oven. Chef Todd Knoll’s food pairings are sublime.
The experience starts with a 2018 Jordan Chardonnay and salmon rillettes on a bed of avocado mousse with a shaved carrot salad mixed with carrot puree and a raspberry vinaigrette.
The two-hour encounter includes five delicious courses, including a savory charcuterie plate and a mixed-fruit tart for dessert.
J Vineyards and Winery is an unintendedly intriguing choice for stop number two. Turns out J Winery was founded by Judy Jordan, who broke away from Jordan Winery to launch her own sparkling wine brand.
The music soundtrack at J is upbeat: “Yeah, rock and roll!”
Served on a contemporary, garden-lined terrace, J Winery offers tastings of preselected or custom-chosen small-lot wines. Paired with artisan cheeses, we pick the five-glass flight of sparkling wines, ranging from a berry-friendly Brut Rosé to the citrusy 2011 Vintage Brut Magnum.
Last stop: The Francis Ford Coppola Winery reminds me of an amusement park for oenophiles. There’s a giant swimming pool filled with frolicking kids. There’s no hotel—though a poolside bartender spills the tea that the winery’s namesake owner/director maintains a cozy suite.
To reach the outdoor patio where tastings are currently allowed, guests must pass through—but not linger in—an impressive gift store brimming with merch. The centerpiece is an apple-red replica car from Coppola’s 1988 movie Tucker: The Man and His Dream.
Yes, the director’s cut wine here is entertaining, too.
Billy Joel would likely be simpatico with Coppola’s “bottle of red, bottle of white…whatever kind of mood you’re in tonight” vibe. J&J