I began drafting this post from my cozy bay window at the Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza, which overlooks a lovely….. piazza! Technically Healdsburgians call it a plaza, but clearly, it’s a piazza, complete with a fountain and all, and recently Husband and I spent some relaxing, lazy time here on a Sunday afternoon, watching this part of the world go by.
I have lived in California for all of my 45 years without ever knowing about Healdsburg. It took my hip Chicago friends to introduce me to this quaint wine country town, about an hour’s drive northwest of Napa. These cherished friends created an amazing two-day itinerary, featuring six wineries and four lovely restaurants. Situated along the Wine Road including nearly 200 wineries, there is clearly more work to be done in Healdsburg in the future.
This little town is absolutely charming, like something out of a storybook. On nearly every table and counter, there’s a sprig of something freshly picked from the garden. In stores, the clerks kindly ask if you’d like a bag for your purchases, and for a 10 cent fee, they will provide you with one made of paper. In Healdsburg, one hears things such as, “how’s the harvest going today?” and “it’s a gorgeous wine…” or “I hate running out of wine!” (agreed) or the melodious “budbreak”.
It was love at first sight for me and Healdsburg, made all the more certain upon realizing that our hotel, Healdsburg Inn, was nestled between an ice cream/pie shop and a bookstore. With a quick stroll around the town square I discovered two more gelato shops and another bookstore. *insert dreamy sigh here*
But it’s not all wandering the little shops and restaurants, because here, local life is accessible. Neighborhoods with homes and churches are just steps away from the plaza, making it easy to daydream about being a local here, or even chat with residents and try their favorites spots around town. I enjoyed popping into a nearby church one early morning, when it was still cool, overcast and quiet before the workday began.
We visited six wineries, tasted numerous delicious offerings, and ordered wine from them all! Our favorites: Skipstone (amazing grounds, fantastic tour of the vineyards, exquisite wines) and Thomas George Estates (really cool cave and tasting room, behind-the-scenes tour of the processing facility). A special shout out to Stuhlmuller, whose owner is a friend of our friends, and who introduced us to both Skipstone and Thomas George. Stuhlmuller features a very inviting outdoor picnic area, where you can bring your own food in to enjoy while sampling their wines. Also note that the view from Copain was breathtaking, and their tasting paired with small bites was fun. Here’s links to all the wineries we visited:
As with the wineries, we paced ourselves with the restaurants. Every single one was delicious and worth a visit. Restaurants here seem to pride themselves on organic, farm-to-table ingredients, which undoubtedly makes the food more tasty, and we had really good service at all locations (people just seem happy here). We hit Zin, Barndiva, Mateo’s and Campo Fina. I felt quite comfortable at Campo Fina, with their outdoor bocce ball court and woodfire pizza oven. The night before, the restaurant hosted their bocce ball championships, and I include the above picture of the teams for your enjoyment. (My favorite: Weekend at Berlusconi’s).
Wine, gelato, home-grown olive oil (forgot to mention that earlier), all wrapped up in a piazza-centered town…. who wouldn’t be happy in Healdsburg?