Meet Your Guides
Two best friends who tend to think the world needs a little more love & laughter
Positivity runs deep in our veins, and it’s our mission to share more love and laughter with the world. Travel is a great way to embark on adventures, create new memories, and spread joy wherever we go. Sonoma County is a special place filled with treasureful experiences which are key ingredients for a trip filled with lots of laughs, hugs, and high-fives. For this adventure, we both had our partners join us making this a special trip for four.
Meet the Gay Beards: Brian Delaurenti and Johnathan Dahl
It was close to dusk on a summer day back in July of 2014 when the very first flowers landed themselves in our beards. Something about that moment was very special for us, unforgettable in a sense. Having been best friends since we were 8 years old, both of us have developed a strong friendship and creative bond with one another. The Gay Beards has become a growing platform where we not only get to bring our beards to life, but in the process, fill the world with a little more love.
Where We Explored
We made it easy for you to take the same exact trip we did. Read on to learn more about our experience, then download the map and start planning your own adventure filled with love and laughter.
Wake up at Mine + Farm
The moment we pulled into Mine + Farm we felt immediately at home. It’s cozy and curated with special touches that were wrapped with love and care. The owners Bryce and Suzanne welcomed us along with their adorable dog Wilson. During our stay we lounged in the common areas and leafed through books, relaxed in the outdoor area, and explored the grounds. Our favorite part of our stay was the delicious breakfast we had served every morning at the long table alongside other guests.
Expert Tip: Don’t treat your accommodations as just a place to sleep. View your hotel as a second home. This will allow you to relax, slow down, and spend time with those you love.
Hot Air Balloon Ride with Up & Away
Hot air balloons are practically synonymous with Sonoma County. With sweeping views of wineries and breathtaking sunrises that burst into bright blue skies, it was a “must” on our list. We woke up early to meet with Mike and his team before embarking on our adventure. Floating in the air is quiet, peaceful, and serene. We’re both afraid of heights, but those fears were erased once we were lifted off. Our hearts warmed to share such special moment with our partners. We learned something new on this experience; a hot air balloon doesn’t land in the same place twice. In our case, our ride ended in a pasture where we were immediately swarmed by a massive group of cows! After adjusting our landing, we capped our adventure with a champagne toast under the morning sun. It was the perfect way to start our day.
Ziplining With Sonoma Canopy Tours
This incredible zipline course is tucked away in a thicket of redwood trees. Some of us had been ziplining before, but never in a place as gorgeous as this. We met our guides, Aiden and Angela, and snapped into our gear. We had a blast zipping from one tree to the next. Although the experience itself was a memorable adventure, we love their mission. They provide camp experiences, hikes, and excursions for children who might not otherwise have the resources to connect with nature. It’s a place of inclusion, love, and community.
Expert Tip: If you want to use your phone to capture pictures while you’re ziplining, make sure to wear pants or a jacket with zipper pockets. This ensures you won’t lose your phone while you’re careening through the forest.
The Barlow | Region and Fern Bar
After a morning of adrenaline and excitement, we were ready for an afternoon of leisure. The four of us stopped off at The Barlow and tasted a variety of wines from Region. We loved their WineStation machines, which allowed us to sample a variety of wines with the swipe of a pre-loaded card. Once evening was upon us, we strolled over Fern Bar for a mouth-watering meal. For us, their garden-to-glass cocktails were a real treat. They offer house-made beers and spirit-free elixirs, so there is something for everybody to sip at Fern Bar.
Expert Tip: Practice Mindful Eating. After pausing with gratitude for the food on your plate and all who worked to get it there, try tuning into all five of our senses as you experience the beautiful colors, flavors, smells and textures of every bite.
We love art that is interactive, whimsical, and puts a smile on your face. So Florence Avenue was next on our list. Located in Sebastapol, just a few minutes away from The Barlow, is an eclectic little strip of fabulous artwork that is created using found objects. Local artist Patrick Amiot and his wife, Brigitte Laurent take cars, cookware, discarded pipes, and other bits and pieces and bring them to life. Their work is on display up and down the street, in neighbor’s yards and even in their front yard too. We grabbed an ice cream cone at a local shop before heading back to Mine + Farm to relax in the hot tub.
Expert Tip: Adopt a beginners mind. When we allow life to unfold moment by moment and let go of our desire to control the outcome, we might be surprised by what we discover. To do this, you can connect to the same sense of wonder you had as a child as you encountered something for the very first time or remind yourself that this moment in time will never exist again.
Breakfast at Mine + Farm
We woke up ready to start our day at the hotel. Mornings at Mine + Farm are slow and special, the perfect way to ease into the day. We sat at a long table, alongside other guests. Suzanne created dishes to accommodate each and every one of us (two vegetarians, one gluten-free, and one carnivore with no restrictions) and we all left with full bellies and smiles on our faces. If the owner Suzanne offers to make you juice—say yes. It will change your life.
Expert Tip: There is a small gift shop on the ground floor of the main house. It has a variety of locally-sourced goods, including items that Bryce made. He’s an amazing artisan with an array of handmade goods for sale in his shop. We loved to check out all the local items and support them.
Cheesemaking at Epicurean Connection
Of all the things on our list, we were excited about learning how to make cheese. Not just because we’re cheese lovers, but because we liked the idea of gaining a new skill during our trip to Sonoma County. However, we didn’t just gain a new skill, we gained a new set of friends. Sheana and Ben are two of the kindest, most generous hearts we encountered in Sonoma County. Yes, they know their cheese, but they also are steadfast supporters of local arts, the culinary world, and the LGBTQ+ community. Learning how to make cheese was the fun and educational experience we expected, but having our hearts filled with love from Sheana and Ben was a bonus.
We headed to Chenoweth Wines for a UTV winery tour. Amy and her husband Charlie paired up with a group of close-knit friends to run Chenoweth Wines. That “come as you are” vibe was welcoming and warm. We were expecting to cruise through some grapevines and sip on chardonnay, but woah, were we blown away by the hospitality and fun Amy Chenoweth provided. We felt like we were old school buddies with her—it was an immediate connection. We were inspired by her passion for making wine. Their Sonoma County Rosé was an easy sipper while we explored the estate.
Expert Tip: Embrace the Energy of Being Alive. Take time at the top to pause and notice how your body feels. If you’re thinking about the past or the future, your heart rate and blood pressure are most likely elevated, while your immunity is slightly suppressed. Bring yourself into the present moment and notice the effects.
Dinner at Roof 106 at The Matheson
Roof 106 sits right in the downtown square of Healdsburg and wow, was it a great way to cap off our experience. We spent a little time at the Wine Wall before heading upstairs to the rooftop to immerse ourselves in the flavors of Sonoma County. For our vegetarians in the group, the Broccolini Pizza was a memorable bite of deliciousness we won’t soon forget. And the Prime New York Steak was perfectly-cooked and unforgettable. We sampled a few of their signature cocktails and re-lived some of our favorite experiences during the last 48 hours. As the sun set over Sonoma County we toasted to time well spent full of meaningful connections, memories we’ll recount for years to come, and having this intentional togetherness.
Expert Tip: Bring a light jacket or wrap. As the sun goes down, the temperatures drop a bit, but it’s a sunset you won’t want to miss! Try to avoid rushing through your trip. Lingering gives you the time to meet new people, explore a place more deeply, learn something, savor the moment. You are not in a race. It doesn’t matter what time it is. Hang out and see where your curiosity goes.
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