Stay-Cation: Insider's Guide To Healdsburg

Healdsburg has come a long way since this tiny Sonoma Valley town was once proudly known as “The Buckle of the Prune Belt.” Located a little more than one hour north of San Francisco, Healdsburg today sits at the crux of three world-class wine growing regions—the Russian River, Alexander, and Dry Creek Valleys. While this town of about 11,000 draws star chefs, vintners, and restaurateurs from around the globe, Healdsburg still retains much of its laid-back, small town charm. Mix in the jaw-dropping vineyard vistas, delectable food, new stores, galleries, and restaurants, and you’ll see that after a weekend stopover in Healdsburg you might not want to leave. Here are a few of my favorite places to stop, shop, and eat. Check out the full story in our Fall 2014 Issue! 

 

Partake by K-J

The new wine-and-food pairing lounge from Sonoma County stalwart Kendall Jackson enlivens the expected tasting-room experience by adding tapas-style small plates to the mix. Educational and yummy, the menu highlights local and estate-grown ingredients as well as many limited-production Kendall Jackson wines—such the 300-case production Jackson Estate Trace Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon—which are only available here. A recent visit featured Estate Lamb Sliders, Local Mushroom Pierogi, and Chicken Wings Coriander Brined. 

 

Spoonbar

Spoonbar, the well-known eatery at the chic h2hotel, has finally come into its own. Chef Louis Maldonado has received rave reviews for his market-driven modern fare, and the cocktail program, now headed by the talented Tara Heffernon, is a laboratory of experimentation. Succulent concoctions include the tequila-and-shrub-based Burning Shrub, the Carbonated Corpse Reviver #2, and the Spoonbar classic Dark & Stormy. 

Fall fare from Spoonbar

Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar

Pie, ice cream, and coffee—is there a more fulfilling gastronomic trio? This new storefront on the square from Ozzy Jimenez and Christian Sullberg, the owners of Healdsburg’s delicious Moustache Baked Goods, hits the sweet spot with ice cream flavors such as Cornflake Maple and Black Sesame + Coconut, and toppings like edible flowers and Maldon sea salt. If you’d prefer to dip into the pie bar, try a slice of Peach, Blueberry + Thyme or Strawberry Balsamic, a personal favorite. 

At Noble Folk

At Noble Folk

Gallery Lulo

Co-owned by Anne-Kathrine Schjerbeck and Karen Gilbert, the meticulously curated modern jewelry store recently expanded to incorporate an exhibition space and gallery. The owners' unerring eye for talent brings world-class artists and artisans to town for exhibitions, including the spectacular photos by Peruvian artist Cecilia Paredes, the ceramic gemstone and rock formations of Shannon Sullivan, luminous porcelain vessels by Lilith Rockett, and hanging metallic and cotton tapestries by Justine Ashbee. 

At Gallery Lulo

Russian River Flower School at MIX Garden

Based at the beautiful MIX Garden landscape supplies store, this new flower school founded by designer Dundee Butcher bridges California’s relaxed garden-fresh approach with a well-crafted European flair. Recent classes included hand-tied bouquet workshops and a modern take on traditional table wreaths. Butcher, who received her training at top floral houses in London, prefers intriguing scale, unusual containers, and a variety of natural ingredients plucked right from the local landscape. 

 

SHED

Tourists stop just to take pictures of this remarkable building by Jensen Architects—already a Healdsburg classic. Inside, the swoon-worthy gift, home, and gardening selections are legendary. But most people are unaware that in addition to the great shopping and food, SHED offers wonderful cooking classes, talks, lectures, and programming. Some high points include tastings of fermented foods (sauerkraut, pickles, breads) made in-house as well as by favorite Bay Area artisans such as Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, and workshops on how to make a variety of foods and drinks including shrub cocktails and Kombucha. 

The sun shining light on Shed designed by Jensen Architects

Alexander Valley Bar at Medlock Ames Tasting Room

An oldie but a goodie. For the perfect Healdsburg sunset, I always recommend the Alexander Valley Bar at the Medlock Ames tasting room. A former gas station and general store, the tasting room was given its new life by architects Wade Design with interiors by Wick Design Group. The property has many sustainable and green features and the modern landscape, focused on water-wise native plants by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, is truly inspirational. The tasting room closes at 5pm when the bar opens—so to sample the wonderful wines of Medlock Ames get there a little early. 

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