• Nicole Leonetti

Healdsburg Highlights

The Russian River Valley in Sonoma County is famous for its Pinot Noir, which makes it one of my favorite places to get a fix of my beloved Pinot! I wholeheartedly believe that Healdsburg is one of the best places to stay when visiting this region. Downtown Healdsburg has a charming town square with many restaurants, shops, and tasting rooms surrounding it. It’s the perfect jumping-off point for a day of tasting and a great place to return to in the evening for an amazing meal. While this is not an exhaustive list or guide to Healdsburg, it does highlight our favorites from a recent trip.

Hotel:

Shower Situation at Hotel Healdsburg

Hotel Healdsburg (Healdsburg): From check-in to check-out, Hotel Healdsburg was a fantastic experience. Everyone we encountered at this hotel went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Our room was well-appointed and had a little balcony overlooking the pool and courtyard. The room also had all my favorite amenities: robes, still & sparkling water, snacks, and a bottle of wine! There was pretty much no reason to leave the room! We did leave, however, to enjoy the best part of the hotel: the location. It is right in Downtown Healdsburg and was super convenient to walk to our favorite places in the town. Another amenity of the hotel was the breakfast, which was included in the room rate. There was a menu to choose from and, I must admit, I had one of the best breakfast sandwiches ever there! The hotel also features a lovely restaurant – Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. Hotel Healdsburg is a perfect place to stay and I cannot wait to visit again in the future!

Restaurants:

Beef Fajitas

Mateo’s Cocina Latina (Healdsburg): I don’t know about you, but I really crave a margarita after a day of wine tasting. And Mateo’s has plenty to choose from – along with an extensive tequila and mezcal list. When our table was ready, the top-notch staff took us to an intimate, outdoor back patio that was heavenly. We opted for the Spicy Margaritas – which were just as tasty as you would imagine. For dinner, we shared the Queso Fundido with Chorizo (WOW!) and then I had the Beef Fajitas. This was not your typical fajita situation with the sizzling plates and fanfare. This was just perfectly cooked beef with bell peppers, onions, rice, and beans served with the most delicious handmade corn and flour tortillas. This restaurant is walking distance from Hotel Healdsburg and was a lovely wine country dining experience.


American Kobe Beef Tartare

Valette (Healdsburg): This restaurant was so special! We dined in their tented patio and, from start to finish, it was just a fabulous meal! Naturally, they had an amazing wine list, so we enjoyed local wines throughout the meal. I started with the American Kobe Beef Tartare, which totally blew me away. I am very selective about where I order tartare from and I knew that Valette would not let me down. It was so flavorful, fresh, and just wonderful! The Sea Bass entrée was fabulous, but it was dessert that really surprised us. We do not typically order dessert, but the chef’s father was coming around speaking with diners and he told us we had to order the Bread, Butter and Jam for dessert. So, thank you to Chef Dustin Valette’s father because he was totally right. It was such a unique dessert that was truly delicious. It was toasted Brioche with Homemade Jam and Salted Brown Butter Ice Cream. Such a great meal right in the heart of Healdsburg – I highly recommend dining at Valette.


Winery/Tasting Rooms:

Best Winery Picnic Ever!

Bricoleur (Windsor): If someone told me that one of the best meals of our big wine country trip would be at a winery – I wouldn’t have believed them. We were planning to be at Bricoleur around lunch time, so I decided to pre-order a picnic basket to go along with our tasting. Upon arrival, we were provided with a glass of Sparkling Wine to enjoy as a precursor to our picnic. This was like a picnic basket on steroids because there was so much food and each bite was terrific. There were no “throw-away” sides or snacks. Each component was thoughtfully curated, and it was the best picnic we have ever had. The picnic included a glass of Grenache for each of us, Prosciutto and Fontina Sandwiches, Tomato, Cucumber & Arugula Salad, Fig Salad, House made Chips & Dip, and a Chocolate Fudge Brownie. During our picnic, we sat at a secluded table on their covered patio overlooking the vines. After we devoured all the food, we moved into the tasting portion of the afternoon and tried a few of their amazing wines. I loved their “Flying By the Seat of Our Pants” Brut, the Unoaked Chardonnay, and their Viognier, of course. Bricoleur also has a beautiful rose garden and a pond with the most adorable ducks and beautiful black swans. It was such a memorable wine tasting experience.


Flowers (Healdsburg): This is such a gorgeous place to visit! Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted and then whisked away to one of the outdoor cabanas for our private tasting. Along with the tasting they had paired bites, which were divine! There was a Gazpacho Soup, Marcona Almonds, Mushroom Gougère, and Cheese, of course! I simply adored their Sonoma Coast Rosé, as well as their Moon Select Pinot Noir. They were phenomenal wines and I wanted to bring them all home with me. Flowers is a marvelous new addition to the area!


Martinelli (Windsor): Martinelli Winery is steeped in history. The Martinelli family has been growing grapes and making wine in the Russian River Valley for over 135 years. They are still family-run and are making some of my favorite Pinot Noir out there. Also, don’t sleep on their Giuseppe and Luisa Zinfandel – so good! They are doing private outdoor tastings where you have a perfect view of their iconic red barn and the beautiful vines.


Merry Edwards (Sebastopol): The Merry Edwards – of course! Sorry – that’s an inside joke between me and my husband because every time it’s time to decide which white wine we want to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon the answer is – “The Merry Edwards – of course!” We are silly, I know – but have you tried their Sauvignon Blanc? It’s perfection! I’ve been to Merry Edwards a few times and they have the most wonderful wines. I’ve mentioned the Sauvignon Blanc already, but I also love their Pinot Noirs – my favorite being the Olivet Lane Pinot Noir. Amazing wines and a lovely tasting room – and their Founder, President, and Winemaker are all female – it doesn’t get much better than that!

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