We just returned from a wine-soaked weekend in Sonoma County, CA, and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite recommendations! xoM
Where to Sleep?
Hotel Healdsburg, h2hotel, Harmon Guest House
Fifteen minutes from the Santa Rosa Airport, at the confluence of the Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys, Healdsburg is a quaint town that is an ideal spot from which to explore Sonoma County. We have stayed at the Hotel Healdsburg, a 56-room hotel located right on the historic town plaza. When taking a break from wine tasting, you can choose to book a treatment in the spa or explore Healdsburg, where you are within walking distance of shopping, wine tasting rooms, and world class restaurants. You could also check out the sister property, h2hotel, just a block down, a LEED certified hotel with 36 sleek, modern rooms decorated in muted earth tones. Also, set to open in August in between h2 and Hotel Healdsburg under the same owner (Charlie Palmer Group), Harmon Guest House will add another 39 rooms to the hotel franchise, giving visitors more choices to rest their heads after a rough day at the wineries. For a complete splurge, you could also book a room at Single Thread, but more on that later…
Where to Sip?
I have found, with many years of wine tasting under my belt, that visiting 2, maybe 3, wineries a day is my max. So while there are countless amazing wineries in Sonoma, these are the wineries we have visited on my last two trips. Should you have recommendations for my next trip, please give a shout out in the comments section at the end of the post. I am always up for suggestions! Ditto that shout out on the restaurant section, as we did not have a chance to go to Valette, which I understand is fabulous, but not featured here…la prochaine fois for sure.
Our first stop was Kistler Trenton Roadhouse Vineyard just north of Sebastopol. A small family owned winery in the Russian River Valley that specializes in Burgundian-style Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, Kistler is open for tastings by appointment only (note: this type of tasting is not unusually in Sonoma). The tasting room opened in 2014 in a converted 1920 farmhouse with sweeping views of the vineyards. A barn overlooking a quaint pond looks perfect for special events or large tastings.
7095 Trenton-Healdsburg Rd, Forestville, CA 95436
Meaning ‘buddy’ or ‘friend’ in French, Copain specializes in vineyard designate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. The tasting at Copain is, like Kistler, by appointment only. The wines and the beauty of the surrounding valley will blow you away…you will be hard pressed to leave.
7800 Eastside Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Paul Hobbs started his wine career at Mondavi in 1977, created his own successful brand in 1991, and is known for uncovering the potential for Malbec in Mendoza, Argentina, where he continues to make fantastic Malbec and Cabernet at Viña Cobos. The tasting room near Sebastopol at the Katherine Linsday Estate (also by appointment only) gives you an insight into this winemaker that Forbes Magazine has christened the “Steve Jobs of wine”. His wines are some of our favorite vineyard-designated Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlots from sites around Napa and Sonoma.
3355 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Ridge is known primarily for its red wines, specifically Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. No reservations are needed at this beautiful Lytton Springs Winery, where for $10-$25 you can choose among three different wine flights, the most expensive of which will entice you with the classical Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello.
650 Lytton Springs Rd., Healdsburg, CA 95448
The Sonoma County Silver Oak tasting room, newly opened and designed by Daniel Piechota of Sagan Piechota, is downright sexy (Daniel apprenticed with Mickey Muennig – think Post Ranch Inn – see an old post here). Oak flooring and paneling is sourced from naturally felled oak trees. The 2,500 rooftop solar panels will eventually generate more than all of their energy needs. The air quality within the buildings has been thoroughly tested for emissions. You can just feel the environmental consciousness washing over you as you sip your Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon while gazing out at the vineyards. Walk-ins are welcome and a tasting of 3 wines is $20, ten dollars of which can be credited to the purchase of a 750 ml bottle of current release Cabernet Sauvignon.
7300 CA-128, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Where to Sup?
Voted one of the 20 best tapas restaurants in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure Magazine, order a gin and tonic on the back patio and be sure to get there before the paella runs out.
420 Center St., Healdsburg
Dry Creek Kitchen
Charlie Palmer’s restaurant located in the Hotel Healdsburg is elegant and chic. Choose among 500 wines and settle in a booth with the Point Reyes Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon.
317 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg
It is easy to see why Barn Diva is a popular wedding venue. A rustic barn with a charming back yard, Barn Diva is country chic in the heart of the wine country. The menu is seasonal, and plan ahead as reservations are “strongly advised” according to the website.
231 Center St., Healdsburg
We have stopped here on every trip to Healdsburg, so it is fair to say we absolutely love this place. What do I love? Some of my favorite fries in the world are their Harrissa Fries. I pair it with a dozen oysters and a glass of Chablis…heaven!
9113 Graton Rd., Graton
The Wurst Restaurant is a fun spot to have a Sheboygan Brat (if one has never had one) along with a glass of craft beer.
22 West Matheson St., Healdsburg
Ok, so I saved it for last. This farm-restaurant-inn concept has been on my bucket list since I first read about it last year. Open at the end of 2016 to rave reviews, Single Thread is to Sonoma what The French Laundry is to Napa. The brain child of Kyle and Katina Connaughton, Single Thread is perfection. This Japanese-California amalgam was inspired by the couple’s time spent in Hokkaido, Kyle as a chef and Katina working on a strawberry farm. Single Thread’s logo is the image of an onion flower, the only vegetable that grows year round on the farm, therefore, the “single thread” that pulls everything together. Everything is so beautifully executed, that it almost overwhelms.
The dining room is filled with custom made tables, chairs and light fixtures with inlaid brass designed by Avroko. The stunning ceramics were made by master potters in Iga, Japan. The knives crafted by Bloodroot Blades in Atlanta feature wooden handles made with wood on the farm. And the bathrooms feature Toto toilets that beckon you with bright lights. And mind you, this is only part of the experience that awaits you when you book a table, for I have yet to mention the food. The evening was out of this world, or what my friend Matt calls “dinner as theatre”. Hope you enjoy my photos that I took with my iPhone. Not the best I have taken, but will have to suffice until the next time I have the fortune to dine at Single Thread. Xo M
Single Thread Farm – Restaurant – Inn
131 North St., Healdsburg
All photos by Marci Symington for texAZtaste.com.