The Sonoma Report: Design and Wine Pairings

There’s no need to choose between looking at good design or enjoying fine wine when headed to Sonoma County this spring. The tiny town of Healdsburg offers both around the picturesque central plaza—and if you haven’t been to the hamlet since last fall, you’ll find exciting shopping and sipping opportunities in old and new venues. A lot has been written about food and wine pairings, but here I match some of my beloved home store haunts with some favorite wine tasting venues.

My first design and drinking pairing is id: art design (above left) at 126 Plaza St. and Prohibition Speakeasy Wine Club  (above right) at 340 Healdsburg Ave. When id opened this past October, it became arguably the edgiest store and art gallery in town. On the floor right now, you’ll find a 1965 art print showing a glam and be-feathered erotic dancer from the Folies Bergère in Paris (“I’m just waiting for Quentin Tarantino to come in and buy it,” says owner Michael Valenzuela.); a mini art exhibition showing the haunting antique lace images of Christopher James Marino; and a quirky dental mold. It’s the air of the unexpected that has me recommending a trip to Prohibition immediately after (or before, if a glass doesn’t loosen your grip on the wallet). The speakeasy opened just this past Thursday, and it features something unheard of on the plaza: wine cocktails. This summer (and the temperatures up north are already topping 70 degrees) you’ll want to slip through the phone booth into the private-feeling bar for a refreshing Flapper cocktail, made with merlot, simple syrup and lemon juice.  Another don’t miss the list of hard-to-come-by boutique and cult wines.

Another fine pairing is 14 Feet (above left), a modern and vintage home emporium, at 325 Center St. and the Wine Annex from Bottle Barn (above right), a tasting room and discount wine shop, across the way at 340 Center St. 14 Feet has a wonderfully eclectic mix of furnishings and accessories ranging from midcentury sofas to hornets’ nests. At the moment, the owners are showcasing the work of artist Ray Degischer, whose arresting works are fashioned from objects found in scrap yards and the like. Degischer makes old pipes into beautiful vessels; creates pendant lamps from abandoned machine parts; and transforms iron heat grates into mirrors. The diverse offerings here build a healthy thirst for a broad selection of wines. You’ll find them, at simply amazing prices, a few doors down at the Wine Annex. A smaller, and more tightly edited, sister to the behemoth Bottle Barn, Santa Rosa’s go-to discount wine venue. Here, you can shop for and taste wines from around the world (a rarity in the hyper-local focused town).

Finally, I love to stop by Thumbprint Cellars’ (above left) new tasting lounge at 102 Matheson St. before heading a few steps down the street to Saint Dizier Home (above right).  There’s something elegant about the tasting room, opened in this space last month, which serves up delightful and suggestively named wines (Arousal, Threesome and Climax) in a space with comfortable sofas, velvet curtains, and a curvaceous bar. Elegant is the only word that can describe Saint Dizier, an interior design store and studio featuring gorgeous accessories, furniture and art ranging from the modern-yet-timeless Gunnison chair to woven African baskets.

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