Situated at the crossroads of three of Sonoma County’s premier wine regions — Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley — Healdsburg has long been a desirable wine country destination. Sought after for its walkable plaza lined with chic tasting rooms, galleries and farm-to-table eateries; luxe lodging; and many opportunities for outdoor adventures, Healdsburg has experienced a steady stream of new businesses in recent years that has kept the locale exciting and fresh. While development (and visitors) slowed to a trickle during the pandemic, Healdsburg is once again thriving, with many projects finally coming to fruition.
“Healdsburg is in a very formative state at the moment, with new development taking place in all directions,” says Brooke Ross, member of the Healdsburg Tourism Improvement District (HTID) and director of sales and marketing for Hotel Trio. “Some of these projects have been in the pipeline for quite some time but are just now opening or breaking ground, such as Montage Healdsburg and the Mill District luxury residences development, while other successful businesses are expanding, including Bon Ton Baby, The Matheson and Asashi Volo Chocolate. It’s an exciting time for the destination.” New direct flights from Hollywood Burbank Airport to Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport have made it even easier to visit the region, as well. Here are some of the newest ways to experience Healdsburg.
A joint venture between winemaker Rob Fischer and owner Baron Ziegler, the visionaries behind Banshee Wines, Marine Layer Wines has opened a 3,200-square-foot tasting room downtown with a laid-back vibe for sipping the winery’s small-production pinot noirs and chardonnays; tastings include seasonal nibbles.
A few minutes away, Aperture Cellars is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with the release their 2019 vintage Bordeaux blend and Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon, which are the first red wines made entirely at the winery’s new Aperture Estate, which boasts a stunning design that draws inspiration from the aperture of a camera.
For Italian-inspired wines (from rare varietals like Biancolella d’Ischia to traditional sangiovese and montepulciano) head to nearby Orsi Family Winery’s brand-new tasting room — the winery’s first since it was founded 10 years ago — surrounded by 70 acres of estate vineyards.
Also nearby, the Mediterranean-inspired Bacchus Landing wine tasting complex has finally opened after six years of planning. At the more than 3-acre property, taste wines from several different wineries or pick up a bottle to go, along with artisanal bites from the onsite market, and head to the picnic area for bocce ball and lawn games amidst herb gardens and fruit trees.
Not known as a destination for breakfast, Healdsburg recently emerged as a force for morning eats. Stop in at Black Oak Coffee Roasters near the plaza for single-origin signature lattes and award-winning espresso and a menu designed by executive chef Beryl Adler. Look for dulce de leche brownies, cheddar scones and gluten-free pastry options, and a breakfast menu including a roasted eggplant banh mi, a breakfast burrito and a range of veggie-centric bowls suitable for lunch or brunch. On the other side of the plaza, Quail & Condor bridges French and American pastries with kouign amann, cheese Danish and croissants, plus a welter of fresh breads and cakes.
Dustin Valette recently opened The Matheson, his multiconcept, multifloored homage to wine country dining that includes two restaurants, a sushi kitchen, ROOF 106 rooftop bar and lounge and a pastry program. And a few blocks away, Kyle and Katina Connaughton of Single Thread plan to open 1005 plant-based Little Saint in the former SHED space later this autumn.
A few miles away at the Montage Healdsburg, which opened last year, Hazel Hill restaurant, helmed by chef Jason Pringle, spins some California cuisine magic to turn out inspired, seasonal fare for all eaters. The views of Healdsburg’s oak-studded hills look even better when viewed from the fairy light-bedecked patio.
One of the few wineries in Sonoma County to offer lodging, Jordan Vineyard & Winery has undertaken a $1 million remodel of its three opulent guest suites, reserved exclusively for members of Jordan Estate Rewards — the first remodel since they were built in the French-inspired chateau more than 40 years ago. San Francisco designer Maria Haidamus’ thoughtful redesign includes furniture from the Louis XV, XVI and XIII periods; botanical wallpaper; fully remodeled bathrooms featuring custom bateau bathtubs; and grand stone fireplaces with new gas inserts. The re-launch of Paris on the Terrace, an alfresco dining experience pairing California-Parisian bistro fare with Jordan’s French-inspired wines, available through the end of October, provides yet another reason to visit the winery this fall.
Events in Healdsburg are once again on the calendar, like Wine Road’s annual Wine & Food Affair, running November 5–7, offering wine and food tasting experiences from 40-plus local wineries. And when it’s time to take a break from all of the indulgences, there are plenty of new ways to burn some calories outdoors around town, such as one-of-a-kind Pro-Cycling Experiences With Pete Stetina, available to guests staying at Harmon Guest House, h2hotel and Hotel Healdsburg, and guided hikes by Karen Austin of HealthStarts2Day — or, bliss out at Bricoleur Vineyards’ weekend outdoor yoga classes overlooking the vineyards.