4 Things to Do in Wine Country in May


The arc of architecture in Downtown Healdsburg, a not-to-be-missed French Flea Market in Sonoma, the best of farmers markets in St. Helena and a taste of Paso Robles’ creative culture, all happening in May in Wine Country.

1. Explore Healdsburg’s diverse architecture from modern loft to Victorian

This self-guided homes tour sponsored by the American Association of University Women shows both the creative spirit of Healdsburg and 140 years of architectural style. The seven featured homes include ornate 19th-century Victorians, a 1939 ranch and a contemporary craftsman, most within walking distance of Healdsburg Plaza. One of the most interesting is a mid-century Quonset Hut, its original corrugated metal, barrel-domed frame now mostly hidden from view after its renovation over time into commercial storefronts. In the 1990s, the mezzanine of the building was converted into a 3,400 square foot loft by interior designer Myra Hoefer and artist Wade Hoefer. 


Photo Sibylla Herbrich


More than 100 feet of continuous length was created to keep the space light and airy. The current interiors are decorated by Jacques Saint Dizier of Saint Dizier Designs. The tour takes place May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $35 pp in advance on AAUW’s website or $40 at the door beginning at the Healdsburg Museum, 221 Matheson Street, Healdsburg.


2.  Treasure hunt Sonoma’s signature French Flea Market


Photo Cathy Stancil

Plan your Sonoma day trip around Chateau Sonoma’s lively 10th annual French Flea Market taking place May 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and May 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Browse through eye-popping vintage furniture, objets d’art, garden décor, linens and more treasures hand-picked by French antique and collectibles importers from around the Bay Area. 153 West Napa Street off Sonoma Plaza.

While in Sonoma Plaza, visit another “flea market” La Brocante which sells an ever-changing collection of inspired décor, apparel and accessories. Owner Diane Magee’s latest designer is Linda Hamilton whose Nomad Chic pop-up shop in La Brocante features unique finds from Southeast Asia and South America that blend seamlesslessly with the wine country lifestyle. 156 East Napa Street off Sonoma Plaza.


3.  Spring into garden-to-table edibles at a 21st century farmstead in Saint Helena


Photo Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead

May marks the beginning of farmers markets throughout wine country, but nothing is better than preparing and eating your own freshly picked produce at the source of origin, for example, at the new Kitchen Workshops at Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead in Saint Helena. The educational Workshops are a natural extension of Ted, Laddie and Chris Halls’ passion for supplying locals with the bounty of their certified organic 10-acre Rutherford Estate at farmers markets for over 20 years. 

On May 5, guests can learn to make desserts in time for Mother’s Day or on May 26, a simple pasta recipe that can be applied to so many dishes. The Workshops take place in the restored 1870s Logan-Ives House at LMR, a 2 ½ acre energy self-sufficient, true farmstead that embodies the full-circle concept with an on-site vegetable garden, farmstand, restaurant and wine tasting room. The Workshop includes hands-on demonstration, delicious meal and wine, an LMR apron, a take-away gift and lots of positive food memories. Cost is $195 pp, check website for seasonal start times and details.


4.  Discover Paso Robles creative culture at the 31st Annual Wine Festival


Kukkula Winery designed by Studio B Architects. Photo Derek Skalko


Paso Robles vintners are unique in specializing in three major styles of wine, the Syrah-Grenache blends, Cabernet blends and Zinfandel, and innovative in making a single blend of all of these major red grape varietals. Taste the diversity at the Wine Festival Grand Tasting on May 18 where over 60 wineries will be pouring their wines in areas organized by these very different styles. Other events over the May 17-19 Wine Festival weekend include a special reserve tasting Friday afternoon, a winemaker seminar on Saturday and winery open houses.

The winery open houses are a great opportunity to explore the diverse landscape of this large region and its modern spirit, captured by Kukkula Winery above in the western Adelaida section of Paso Robles with its gabion wall façade designed by Studio B Architects.


Shale Oak Winery designed by Studio2G Architects. Photo courtesy Shale Oak Winery


The Gold Leed certified Shale Oak Winery designed by Studio2G Architects, reflects the colorful and irreverent personality of Paso Robles winemakers.

The Grand Tasting May 18 takes place from 1-4 p.m., $55 pp or 12-4 p.m. for Premium ($75) and Reserve ($125) ticket holders. For more details on the main events, special activities and promotions at individual wineries and to purchase tickets, check the event website.

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