Healdsburg has long lived in the shadow of Napa Valley, its Northern California neighbor to the east. Sonoma County, where it sits, finally received its share of attention in fall 2017 — but for all the wrong reasons, as fires ravaged the county’s homes and wineries. Now, more than a year later, Healdsburg and its neighbors have made a comeback, welcoming visitors to stay at vibrant new hotels, enjoy a new wave of farm-to-table cuisine and mingle with generations of vignerons. Here’s how to do Healdsburg in a weekend.
After making the scenic, albeit sometimes traffic-heavy, drive from San Francisco, you’re likely in need of a drink. Head to Truett Hurst (5610 Dry Creek Rd., 707-433-9545, truetthurstwinery.com), a small, family-owned winery in the Dry Creek Valley. A $15 tasting flight allows you to sample five or six of the winery’s cuvees, ideally enjoyed in one of the property’s red Adirondack chairs.
Next, head to DaVero (by appointment only; 766 Westside Rd., 707-431-8000, davero.com), a biodynamic winery that focuses on Italian grape varietals. DaVero also produces olive oil and balsamic vinegar that make for excellent souvenirs.
Cap off the day at renowned chef Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen (317 Healdsburg Ave., 707-431-0330, drycreekkitchen.com). The restaurant serves a $79 five-course prix fixe inspired by Sonoma farmers, as well as an a la carte menu — best enjoyed beneath the restaurant’s vineyard-adorned trellis.
Start your morning at Downtown Bakery & Creamery (308 A Center St., 707-431-2719, downtownbakery.net), just a few blocks away from Healdsburg’s main square. Everything, including the decadent pain au chocolat, is baked fresh daily. On Saturdays, the farmers market rolls into town (May-November; North and Vine streets, healdsburgfarmersmarket.org), with much of the goods grown within a 10-mile radius (don’t leave without a bag of fresh polenta from Front Porch Farm).
Make an afternoon tasting appointment at Quivira Vineyards (4900 West Dry Creek Rd., 707-431-8333, quivirawine.com), another Dry Creek Valley vineyard practicing organic and biodynamic techniques. The winery is also producing some tasty snacks, too — the estate tasting includes a sampling of house-cured olives and charcuterie ($30).
Have dinner at Mateo’s Cocina Latina (214 Healdsburg Ave., 707-433-1520, mateoscocinalatina.com), a Healdsburg favorite where Yucatán-born chef Mateo Granados uses Sonoma ingredients and precise French techniques to recreate Mexican.
If there’s one Healdsburg winery you already know, it’s likely Jordan (1474 Alexander Valley Rd., 800-654-1213, jordanwinery.com). The estate was established in 1972, back when much of Napa and Sonoma were mostly webs of dusty roads with the occasional vineyard. The region’s come a long way since then, but Jordan’s commitment to Bordeaux-style California cabernet sauvignon hasn’t wavered. One of the best ways to experience the property is an estate tour and tasting (May-October, $125). The three-hour experience starts with breakfast at Vista Point, the winery’s highest point, before covering three miles of trails, a tasting of the winery’s top-tier cuvees and a picnic of local cheeses, charcuterie and more.
GOOD TO KNOW
Getting there: Most major carriers fly direct from New York to San Francisco International Airport; from there, it’s a 90-minute drive to Healdsburg. Alternatively, Alaska, American and United airlines service the nearby Sonoma County Airport with layovers.
Getting around: Healdsburg’s downtown area is walkable, with plenty of restaurants, boutiques and tasting rooms to occupy your time. Most wineries are a 15- to 20-minute drive away. Uber and Lyft are available.
Where to stay: In a region flooded with quaint and quirky bed-and-breakfasts and inns, the new Harmon Guest House (227 Healdsburg Ave., 707-431-8220, harmonguesthouse.com) adds a breath of modernity to Sonoma County’s lodging options.