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HEALDSBURG

Wining, Dining and Art in Sonoma’s Wine Country.

BY LAURA LEVY SHATKIN
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Sonoma County’s Healdsburg has elusive small-town charm with world-class activities. Over the past decade, this quaint town—centered around a charming town square—has grown into a destination for dining, wine tasting and art galleries. Nestled along the banks of Russian River, Healdsburg also offers the outdoor adventurer a number of excursions from biking wine country, hiking gorgeous terrain or exploring the town square’s shops and over 20 art galleries.

Three prime winegrowing regions flank the area—the Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley—making Healdsburg an ideal hub for wine lovers. Healdsburg is a beacon of creativity and talent and draws artists, culinarians and sommeliers. Follow our guide so you don’t miss a beat on your next trip to California’s wine country.

Jordan Winery Bike Tour

Getting Around: Bike, Hike or Walk

Love a stroll in the garden? Walk through the Russian River Rose Company (russian-river-rose.com) where you’ll see over 650 varieties of roses from native to hybrid species. Take a break to sample the rose oil and rose water sorbet. Additionally, Wine Country Walking Tours (winecountrywalkingtours.com) offers guided tours for you to walk, learn, sip and taste.

If biking is more your speed, head over to Wine Country Bikes (winecountrybikes.com) and pedal down West Dry Creek Road where a moderately winding stretch zips past a handful of wineries including Mauritson Family Winery, a sixth-generation winery, the smaller Kieran Robinson Wines (kieranrobinsonwines.com) and Quivira Vineyards and Winery (quivirawine.com), an organic farm and winery.

For those who enjoy nature hiking, Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve (stewardscr.org), offers 805 acres of majestic Sequoia Coast Redwoods. A naturalist leads you to an overlook for breathtaking views of hills and redwoods.

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Walking the Square

Take a day simply to stroll around the square and enjoy local wares. Shops range from tasting rooms, cafés, clothing and book stores to upscale home accessories, unique collectibles and antiques. When you find yourself parched and hungry, rest assured, the options abound.

After a little retail therapy, quench your thirst at the casual Banshee Wines (bansheewines.com) tasting room. Enjoy the rustic setting along with tasty Rosé of Pinot Noir and coastal Chardonnay. Pop into Portalupi Wines (portalupiwine.com) for a contemporary urban feel and wines influenced by their Italian heritage.  Call ahead for their cheese and salumi wine pairings. Boutique Spicy Vines (spicyvines.com) has a spirit of fun, where Winemaker Doug Hackett harmoniously crafts not only still wines, but old-world style spiced wines and meads.

Had your fill of wine tasting? Head to Bear Republic Brewing Company (bearrepublic.com) for over a dozen freshly brewed beers on tap. Or find peace and relaxation at The Taste of Tea lounge (thetasteoftea.com). Learn about origin teas then indulge in pampering at their relaxation lounge with green tea foot soaks and face masks.

For a quick artisan handmade snack or a boxed lunch to enjoy in the sunshine, pop into Costeaux French Bakery (costeaux.com), a Healdsburg favorite since 1923.

Dining Galore

When hunger calls, don’t miss the stunning James Beard Award-winning restaurant design at SHED Healdsburg (healdsburgshed.com). The multipurpose space offers gorgeous local dishes, a specialty food and wine shop, garden supply yard and a fermentation bar serving fruity shrub beverages.

Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen (drycreekkitchen.com)—perched inside sleek Hotel Healdsburg—features modern American locally inspired cuisine by the world-renowned chef.

In a Nuevo Latino vein, try the Yucatán-inflected cuisine at Mateo’s Cocina Latina (mateoscocinalatina.com). Sip on a house-made margarita on the lovely back patio to refresh.

Head to Persimmon on the Square (persimmonhealdsburg.com) for a fusion of Thai/Vietnamese/Chinese cuisines from pho and ramen to shrimp dumplings.

Brothers Dustin and Aaron show off their hyper-local award-winning cuisine at Valette Healdsburg (valettehealdsburg.com), with most ingredients coming from no further than one mile away. The multicourse “Trust Me” is an ever- changing menu that provides a fun way to experience what the restaurant has to offer.

Experience new Portuguese cuisine just steps outside the square at Café Lucia (cafelucia.net). Start with “small plate” delicacies like morcela (blood sausage), fried spicy pig ears and polvinhos (baby octopus). If a burger is more up your alley, don’t miss Healdsburg Bar & Grill (healdsburgbarandgrill.com) where Chef Keane balances the finest ingredients with his casual cuisine—think truffle fries and Humboldt Creamery milkshakes.

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Winery Visits and Tastings

Wineries range from the certified biodynamic DaVero Farms (davero.com) where the sheep roam freely among the grapes and olive groves to the restored historical building and outdoor sculptures at Soda Rock Winery (sodarockwinery.com), where primarily Bordeaux varietals are grown.

Not to be missed is the award-winning Old Vine Zinfandel at family-run Wilson Winery (wilsonwinery.com) in Dry Creek Valley. Enjoy stunning vistas while you sip on wine in the outdoor tasting room. Stop by neighboring wineries Ferrari-Carano Vineyards (ferrari-carano.com) to sip a few stellar white wines or Dry Creek Vineyard (drycreekvineyard.com), notable as the first winery to emerge post-prohibition in this Valley, giving rise to a renaissance of winemaking here. A newer addition to the area is Francis Ford Coppola’s Virginia Dare Winery (virginiadarewinery.com) and restaurant Werowocomoco, an homage to American winemaking and the first woman born in the American colonies.

Don’t miss the other valley—Anderson Valley—and challenge yourself to a 3-mile vineyard hike at Jordan Winery (jordanwinery.com), a family-operated 1,200-acre estate. Start at the highest hilltop, Vista Point, for awe-inspiring panoramas of the mountain ranges, then venture back with stops at various points for a taste of Jordan wine and olive oil.

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Where to Stay

Lodging in Healdsburg ranges from the very affordable to luxe accommodations with spa and all.

Getting away for a romantic special occasion? The 19th-century Triple A 4-diamond property Honor Mansion honormansion.com) fits the bill with just 13 luxury suites, bocce, tennis courts and poolside relaxation on the four-acre property. Breakfast and afternoon tea are included as part of your stay and shouldn’t be missed.

Hotel Les Mars (hotellesmars.com), a Relais and Chateaux European-style property, also seduces with romance and old-world luxury.

For upscale swank and lovely outdoor spaces, a world-class spa, a sexy cocktail bar and top-tier dining, try downtown’s Hotel Healdsburg (hotelhealdsburg.com).

Quaint casual bed and breakfasts are also abundant: charming Queen Anne Victorian Haydon Street Inn (haydon.com) offers evening wine receptions; Camellia Inn (camelliainn.com) offers nine well-appointed rooms, each with a bedside iPad; and turn-of-the-century 13-room Grape Leaf Inn (grapeleafinn.com) is surrounded by gorgeous English-style gardens. The Tuscan Villa-style Dry Creek Inn (drycreekinn.com), located just out of town but convenient to the wineries, is yet another more reasonable option.