Healdsburg, California, in the heart of Sonoma’s wine country, is a perfect base for exploring the wines of the region. It's a very quaint small town, but chock full of tasting rooms and great restaurants. It’s also easy to visit the many wineries in the area.
But with more than 80 vineyards surrounding Healdsburg and about 40 tasting rooms near the town’s central plaza, you can’t take it all in at once. We recommend you map out your Healdsburg area wine experience based on how much time you have.
We also suggest that you avoid the larger, commercial touristy places and concentrate on local ones with exquisite wines, more personalized experiences, and outstanding customer service.
Of course, this is somewhat subjective; if you only want to visit wineries that produce a particular varietal, or you’re enticed to visit a well-known winery after tasting its wines from your local store, then you should do that. It’s your vacation. 😊
We have personally visited each of the places mentioned. Here’s what we recommend.
Healdsburg Wine Background
Winemaking in Sonoma Country dates back to 1812, when Russians planted the first vines. Wine production grew, but it took a hard hit during prohibition, and most of the vines near Healdsburg were pulled out and replaced by fruit trees. The wine industry experienced a resurgence in the 1970s, and grapes were replanted. Wine is now the area’s primary agricultural industry.
While the region may be best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon, it produces many other varietals, as well.
Where to go if you have only one day: Hit the Best in Class
If you’re going to make a day trip from San Francisco, Napa, or elsewhere for a Healdsburg area wine experience, we suggest visiting a few of the wineries that produce the very best of what Healdsburg area wine country has to offer, both in wine quality and in experience.
Two of our favorite winery destinations are Gary Farrell Vineyards and Winery and Hartford Family Winery. They both produce a variety of exceptional wines in pretty locations, with personal, very knowledgeable hosts.
If you have the time to visit more than two wineries that day, then we suggest adding ones that offer both great wine and a view, such as Copain, a small, particularly relaxing winery overlooking a valley, and MacRostie Winery and Vineyards, which each time we’ve visited greeted us in the parking lot with a welcome glass of sparkling wine.
If you prefer to squeeze in a quick peek of the town of Healdsburg and a bite to eat, several nice restaurants open for lunch include farm to fork American eatery Barndiva (sit out in the back if the weather is nice), Bravas Bar de Tapas, and Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar.
If you have a couple of days: Go for a Blow Out Event and Time in Town
If you’re able to stay overnight as part of your Healdsburg area wine experience, treat yourself to one of the over-the-top adventures that some wineries offer. These go above and beyond a simple wine tasting, such as multiple course meals with wine pairings, unique behind-the-scenes tours, or tastings in the vineyards.
We’ve particularly enjoyed the tasting events at Jordan Winery as well as Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards’ tour, which was in a Hummer. Both of these wineries are particularly beautiful, and the wines are super.
For the rest of the day, explore the tasting rooms in the town of Healdsburg. We’re particularly fond of Stephen & Walker Winery, which provides a tasting of four wines with different tidbits accompanying each glass, Siduri Wine Bar and Tasting Lounge, which specializes in Pinot Noir, and Seghesio Family Vineyards, just a short walk from the central plaza.
There are some Michelin Star restaurants in and around Healdsburg if you want to splurge on dinner. But there are plenty of other choices. Some of our favorite restaurants we return to time and again include Valette, The Matheson, and Baci Café and Wine Bar.
If you have one more day: Hit Some of the Lesser-Known Gems
If you’re lucky enough to spend more time in Healdsburg, visit several of the wineries that produce great wines but don’t get as much attention as some of the other wineries. We’ve had great Healdsburg area wine experiences at tiny Mauritson Winery, established in 1868, Truett Hurst, which prides itself on its eco-friendly biodynamic approach to winemaking, Limerick Lane, renowned for its Zinfandels, and Dry Creek Vineyard, operating since 1972.
We hope you find that these recommendations on how to map out your Healdsburg area wine experience help you plan your next trip there.
Of course, this is just a fraction of what the Healdsburg area has to offer. Please feel free to contact us and share your own Healdsburg area wine experiences. We’re at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
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