If you would like to create your own winery tour, consider visiting some of the wineries recently listed in Wine Country Getaways - Bocce Ball Wineries
On Thursday, September 5th at or around 14:30 pacific time my wife, two kids, and I loaded into the car and pointed south. We live In Bellingham, Washington about 20 miles south of the Canadian/US border. At 8:30 on September 6th we pulled into Calistoga, California. With the kids now awake we decided it was a good time to pull over and eat. The pace in Calistoga at 8:30 is perfect for how we were feeling. After an awesome breakfast in a “child-friendly” café, we checked into one of the many Hot Spring Spas… It was a great way to shed some road fatigue. After a few hours, we grabbed a picnic lunch and drove the few blocks to Summers Vineyard. For a price of the bottle of their 2000 Carbano, we were able to play bocce and have our picnic in spectacular Wine Country. E-mail them at Summers Winery They have a beautiful oyster shell court amidst their spectacular vineyard and winery. They produce a Viognier, a Chevalier, and a Charbono, as well as other fine wines.
Having really enjoyed our lunch we headed over to Kenwood and visited Landmark Vineyards. Check out Landmark Vineyards. They also have an awesome court which looks and plays great! One thing I was reminded of and should pass on is this: Bocce enthusiasts visiting wineries should keep in mind that you are visiting a place that has been created to sell wine. Buy some of their product. It is a small price for admission to great courts and the setting cannot be beaten. You might even get lucky enough to catch a game with an owner.
The kids were showing signs of weariness so we packed up and headed south to stay with friends near San Rafael. Saturday morning we drove to 550 “B” Street in San Rafael which is the home of the Marin Bocce Federation. They have eight beautiful courts that can be rented for an hour or for a day. Call to reserve a court at (415) 485-5583. These courts are open to the public and the cost is minimal. Their top surface is made with a rubber type product…looks like chopped rubber bands… and is often used for indoor running tracks. They play fast and change some throughout the day as heat expands or contracts the material. These courts are well thought out and play great. The staff was helpful beyond belief and is very knowledgeable. Bring your picnic! This was good fun…
I had heard about some courts in Martinez, Ca., and since it is only about an hour drive from San Rafael it seemed the perfect next stop. They have 15 competition oyster courts available for public use. I left the family and went with my friend Ben. We arrived in the heat of the day and no intelligent people were to be seen. So we did what we thought best… fell into a local bar that was advertising “bocce hour” and learned about “how it is”…
Martinez has strong bar-league teams and there was a great feeling of bocce brotherhood throughout the town. Bring your own balls but they are open to the general public and are lighted. This is the heart of Bocce on the West Coast.
On the signboard in Martinez, we noticed that the U.S. National Championships were being held in Pittsburg, California, which is a neighboring community. I cannot verify or refute this information even after going to the City Hall Plaza in Pittsburg. They were not accessible at the time we were there but they are public courts. I am not sure what sort of fee they charge for use.
On the morning of September 8th, my wife and I were still speaking and we were still traveling with two kids. We were going to spend the day in the Bay area so our first stop was the Aquatic Park Bocce courts. After finally locating these courts, which sit about a block west of Ghiradelli Square on the waterfront, we learned that it was for members only. Since we couldn’t see anybody who looked to be members we elected ourselves “members”, paid the appropriate dues and enjoyed a morning at our new club. We were gentle…
The kids were beginning to think we had sold the house and moved into a car. We needed to do something to remind them that life could be worse, so we took them to Golden Gate Park and watched people who use starch engaged in the act of lawn bowling. Then I showed them other indicators of life without the freedom to bocce.
September 10th we arrived in Monterey. Just up from Fisherman’s Wharf and beside the Double Tree Hotel are three beautiful oyster courts. We taught our children the ABCs. A – Aquarium. Don’t go to Monterey without stopping and seeing what is new. B – Bocce. Nice courts and great restaurants within stumbling distance. C – Comfort. We drove 17 Mile Drive and Pebble Beach and said, “someday, if you make it your goal you could buy one of these for your folks to live in”.
On September 11th we did not play any bocce.
Campo di Bocce was easy to find since we had gone to www.campodibocce.com ahead of time and followed directions. September 12th was a day we had made reservations a week in advance for and I was truly looking forward to it. Campo di Bocce is a state-of-the-art $2-million plus facility. Facilities are available to non-members for a fee. They have 4 indoor courts, 2 outdoor but covered courts, and 2 outdoor exposed courts.
They offer excellent food and wine and rent court time by availability. If you get a chance or are traveling near Los Gatos, do yourself a favor and book a reservation for a meal and a game. These courts are in excellent condition and have hosted national competitions. Make sure to tell Joe to lighten up. If you know a bocce enthusiast who has everything, take them for a weekend to Los Gatos. Wine them, dine them, and bocce till you drop. Every city should have one of these.
Our 3 month old did great but the 2-year-old was starting to get “bocced out”. When he fell asleep for his afternoon nap we checked out Bocci’s Cellar in Santa Cruz. It is a restaurant and bar that have been around since the early 1900’s. The courts are decomposed granite and not packed too well but it’s authentic down to the rules written in Italian. While politicians and patients stood hand in hand on the steps of city hall protesting, we were down the street at 140Encinal Street in Santa Cruz checking out the bocce courts.
From the 15th to the 18th we stayed with family in the Del Web community of Sun City Lincoln Hills in Lincoln, California. This is a private community that has put in 12 courts to date and have more planned for the future.
These courts are surfaced with field turf. We saw quite a number of bocce enthusiasts at Lincoln Hills and I got some good court ideas from them even though the courts are synthetic.
The weather was fantastic for two weeks and our kids were far better than I could have imagined. We got to bocce in a wide assortment of places, on various court surfaces, and with some wonderful people. I am much better prepared to consult my clients. What a great game!!!
E-mail me if you would like to know more about the tour.