Healdsburg, CA Part 2

And now we continue with part two of my ~HEALDSBURG~ recap. Last week was about where to eat and this week covers where to stay, and drink good wine. Cheers to that.

~WHERE TO STAY~



I was in hotel heaven at the ~HOTEL HEALDSBURG~--it's modern and chic but still cozy, and there are all kinds of outdoor spaces for lingering, like the back patio, pool, and atrium areas, so it's ideal for the warmer weather you get up there. There's also a downstairs lounge area with comfy couches around a fireplace, and bingo: the hotel is located right on the Plaza. The rooms have clean contemporary styling, in soothing tones of green and sand, with heavy Venetian blinds, and fab feather beds. Enjoyed the super spacious bathrooms, which include deep soaking tubs and walk-in showers. Breakfast downstairs was quite the spread, with all kinds of egg dishes, lox and bagel fixins, and strong coffee.

Would be an ideal getaway space--it was tranquil, soothing, and there's even a spa (I didn't have a treatment, so can't vouch for that part). They do some internet specials and packages (like a girls getaway), so hop online and see.

Hotel Healdsburg
Rates $260-$820





You want to really do it up? Got a big special occasion you want to celebrate right? I can't think of a dreamier place to stay than the ~LES MARS HOTEL~. It's like being in Europe, with such exquisite and personal hospitality, but it never feels stuffy or uncomfortable. You can almost pretend you're staying at your very wealthy friend's manse (a girl can dream, can't she?) It's no mistake this is a Relais & Chateaux property, and how convenient, Cyrus is just downstairs. If you have the ducats, this is the place to go for an overnighter, or weekend. I'm talking four-poster beds, a cloud of down pillows and comforters, and the Italian Versai linens that will make you hate anything you sleep on at home. Bathrooms are outfitted in marble, and Bulgari products. Luxe, baby.

I was obsessed with the authentic antiques throughout, especially the floral chandeliers and sconces, and wait until you see the woodwork in the room where breakfast is hosted--stunning craftsmanship. Our three-course breakfast consisted of Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, pumpkin pecan pancakes with chicken apple sausage, and a petite herb and cheese omelette. You're set to go wine tasting all day after a breakfast like that. The wine and cheese reception in the lobby is no slouch either, mamma mia. The entire experience here is thoughtful, memorable, and pure quality.

Les Mars Hotel
Rates $475-$1050





There is also the B&B option, which can be personal, charming, and quite a bit more budget friendly. One place I tried was the ~IRISH ROSE INN~, on Dry Creek Road, a wee bit out of town and nestled closer to the peace and calm of the vineyards. It has two rooms and a cottage, which also looks darling. I stayed in "Michael's Room" in the main house, with a super-comfy king size bed (great mattress) and my room was delightfully devoid of any dolls or bric-a-brac. I dug my sunny and private bathroom, and the view of the vineyard out back. Chris the innkeeper was super friendly, and made an awesome breakfast soufflé with bacon, plus fresh fruit and bagels.

Irish Rose Inn
Rates $160-$200





Now, the ~CAMELLIA INN~ is what veers more into the classic B&B girlie styling, but wow, what a building! It's an 1869 Italianate Victorian inn that is walking distance from the Plaza. Most of the rooms would freak guys out with all the floral wallpaper, lacy canopies, and pink. And some of the furnishings felt a little tired. But it's also the home of a super-budget secret: a simple double room for $119-$129 (there's just a little lace on the curtains, that's all!). The bathroom is a quick step across the hall, but it's private and has an awesome tub. Personally, I'd rather stay in a cool historic building like this than some modern chain hotel any day, especially for that price. You can see pics of all the rooms in the virtual tour on the site.

Breakfast was a simple spread of scrambled eggs, plus ham, and a homemade pear tart. Nice folks running the place. And there's a pool out back. I also had a good run along Matheson, a wide winding road with no winos driving on it.

Camellia Inn
Rates $119-$249



At this point you can head back to your hotel, relax, walk around the Plaza, and get ready for dinner.

Dry Creek:

Here are some ideas of wineries to visit for a full day--add or subtract based on what kind of a day you want, leisurely or turbo:

After breakfast, head out on Dry Creek Road and visit ~DRY CREEK VINEYARD~ (I'm a big fan of their dry chenin blanc, and fully loaded heritage zinfandel--see what they have in the handy 375ml bottle size, perfect for the single boy or girl!) Open daily 10:30am-4:30pm. There is a $5 per person fee for tasting their signature wines, and $10 per person fee for tasting their single-vineyard wines--be sure visit their site for a two-for-one coupon.

Then keep on trucking and head over to ~UNTI VINEYARDS~ for your appointment. This small producer is one of my very faves in the area--Mick Unti and his dad George do a wonderful job with Italian varietals (I heart their barbera) and try their Segromigno blend. This is a can't-miss experience, and make some room in your trunk. Thank me later.





You've been spitting, right? Right. Just a tiny bit further down the road on the right is ~PAPAPIETRO PERRY~, home of some oh-so-drinkable pinots, and zins, too. (Their first release was in 1998.) This place was the pinot oasis, there are nine total plus one zin; the tasting room is tucked in with some other wineries, so don't worry, you're in the right place. The tasting fee is $5, hours are 11am-4:30pm daily. Have fun chatting with Barney, who is in the tasting room Thu-Sat.



Okay you little wine warrior, at this point you could cruise up to Canyon Road, hang a right, and then cruise a bit south on 128 for a heavenly lunch at Santi in Geyserville. (See my other issue for details on this delicious restaurant.)





Or perhaps you packed a picnic? In that case I'd keep on cruising north and go to ~PRESTON~ to eat on the picnic tables on their charming grounds, complete with happy cats lounging in the sun. This family-owned winery has been around since 1973, is certified organic, and totally rocked me with their barbera, and the L. Preston Rhone-style blend. The cinsault is nice to have slightly chilled (ideal for picnics), and on Sundays they have Guadagni Red, a jug wine that is a new blend each year; it's $32 for a three-liter jug (ruh roh) and only available at the winery on Sundays. They also have olive oil (buono!) and cured olives. The tasting room is open 11am-4:30pm daily. $5 tasting fee, refundable with wine purchase.





Just a bit more up the road from Preston is ~BELLA~--and it totally lives up to its name: the well-maintained grounds are breathtaking. Head into the cave to taste some luscious single vineyard zins (there are three vineyards total), two syrahs, a cab-zin blend, and a late-picked zinfandel. $5 tasting fee. The tasting room is open 11am-4:30 daily.


Back down West Dry Creek Road are two gems: first there is ~QUIVIRA~, where you can learn all about biodynamic winemaking, and taste their award-winning zinfandels and sauvignon blancs. Tasting fee $5 (waived with purchase). Open daily 11am-5pm.





If you cruise down Wine Creek Road, and if you were a good planner and made an appointment, there's ~MICHEL-SCHLUMBERGER~. What a find--wait until you try their cabs. (Can you say "reserve"?) They offer a wine tasting and a 30-minute tour of the estate to guests at 11am or 2pm daily, or a vertical tasting of library wines, an artisan cheese and wine pairing Fri-Sun, and a "Green" tour and hillside tasting in the morning Thu-Sat--all by appointment only, prices vary. This is a great place to "go deeper" and check things out if you have the time. Read more here.





Heading east on Alexander Valley Road, a visit to ~JORDAN WINERY~ is pure pleasure. You have to call ahead and reserve one of their two tours, either the Jordan Winery Tour, for a tour of the winery and grounds along with tastings of their current release chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and estate-grown extra virgin olive oil. You will also sample an older vintage cabernet selected from the library, and get "little tastes" to pair with the wines. Classy. Mon-Sat 11am-12pm, $30 per guest. There's also the Jordan Winery Library Tasting, with tastings paired with artisanal cheeses. Call for available times on Mon-Sat, and daily May-Oct, $20 per guest.





Head south on 128 and visit ~ALEXANDER VALLEY VINEYARDS~ for a good history lesson (the estate was once the original homestead of Cyrus Alexander--and if you don't know who that is, then perhaps you should take a tour here). My family has enjoyed their Sin Zin for years, and the CYRUS Bordeaux blend is another one to take note of. Tasting room hours are 10am-5pm. Tours are available by appointment.





~HANNA WINERY~ is family-owned and operated, with a pleasingly pretense-free tasting room in their Mediterranean-style building. There are a bunch of wines to try, including their wonderful sav blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and I love the Noir, a rich Bordeaux blend. Open daily 10am-4pm, click here for a coupon.



At the end of the day, head back up north the 128 for sunset at ~STRYKER SONOMA~ (in the winter it happens by 5pm or so). The architecture is quite cool, and there are lots of award-winning wines to taste here. The tasting room is open 10:30am-5pm daily.

~MORE TO SEE AND DO~

There are tons of little shops all around the square, from clothing to cookware, but one spot that really caught my eye is ~ARTISTS & FARMERS~, right next door to Barndiva. Cool objets, with a Euro and artistic sensibility. Well-selected music, too. 237 Center St. at Mill, 707-431-7404.

Every Tuesday from June 3rd-October 28th is the ~HEALDSBURG FARMERS' MARKET~ from 4pm-6:30pm on Plaza and Center Streets, on the Plaza. Live music concerts are held from 6pm-8pm.

There's also a ~SATURDAY MARKET~ May 3rd-November 29th from 9am-noon, on North and Vine Streets, one block west of the Plaza. Every second Saturday, there are "Shopping with the Chef" and cooking demonstrations courtesy of Relish Culinary Adventures.

Speaking of ~RELISH CULINARY ADVENTURES~, they host cooking classes, plus events, tours, and even things like mushroom foraging excursions--simply sign up for their mailing list on their site to plan your culinary adventure ahead of time. They also just finished their new Culinary Center, complete with an outdoor kitchen.

For you cycling types, the folks at Weekend Sherpa have this itinerary about ~WHERE TO RIDE YOUR BIKE IN DRY CREEK VALLEY~, and mentions some of the wineries I listed above. Just be careful!

I was also told about ~VINE ROVER TOURS~, a car service that can cart you around so you don't have to worry about driving.

Healdsburg hosts a bunch of annual events, from the Wild Steelhead Festival in February, to the Pigs and Pinot event at the Hotel Healdsburg in March, and the Healdsburg Jazz Festival at the end of May. You can see what's happening on the Chamber of Commerce site.

If you want some more ideas or info, my pal John Vlahides over at ~71MILES.COM~ did a super round-up of where to go, eat, stay, and play in Healdsburg--check it out here.