In Healdsburg the first thing you notice are
the beautifully well kept large porch homes with a
splash of red white and blue proudly displayed up front and some neat well kept gardens. When you reach the central town plaza a few lonesome large redwoods rise up to meet you surrounded by great restaurants, bakeries, boutiques and wine tasting rooms.
There are over 250 wineries in Sonoma, with more than 20 tasting rooms in Healdsburg itself all within walking distance. What better way to introduce yourself to the flavors of Sonoma.
I managed to try eight places and all of them were of a high standard. Of particular note were three smaller producers.
The first Williamson wines was interesting for the way they matched food and wine. A large selection of wines but the food matches like truffle salt and cheese or a mango ginger cheddar is what made the experience particularly fun.
Stephen and Walker around the corner made a textually rich and riper tropical style Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River and some savory Zinfandels from both Russian River and the warmer Dry Creek Valley which i liked. They also had a rich and complex 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from a highly regarded Napa Valley vineyard subregion called Howell Mountain.
The last of the three amigos was Hawley Winery. Not a bad wine in the whole list. First rate quality. From the fresh and clean NZ style Sauvignon Blanc, a rich varietal orange blossom Viognier and a european styled elegant textural Chardonnay a little funky and doesn’t have oak as a main component. The reds didn’t disappoint the richest and most intense Zinfandels of the day with that baked christmas cake character I associate with great Zins (due in part to some raisins in ferment). And both the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon had a sophistication and elegance that can only come from a winemaker who really knows what they are doing. Hats off to you Mr Hawley.
Wandering through the centre you will stumble upon Copperfields a chain that has a good selection of magazines and a small but interesting selection of coffee book style selections. For a more in depth and compelling read just across the plaza their is Levin & co. Here you will find great food and wine information, a good selection of novels and interesting hard to find books. The layout of the store has a chaotic library feel that any book lover will really get into just for sheer diversity and scope. The store is locally based and has a real personality. Grab a read and then pick up a coffee and something hot at the Downtown Bakery just next door.
The intense aromas of the Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley of fruitcake and Chocolate berry at any of the wine tasting rooms in Healdsburg.
At Campo Fino as many courses of three share bite sized dishes from great pizza to pork belly as you can muster. Wash it down with a great Vermentino or any of the local reds on offer.
Check out the cute couples and dog walking oddities of people around the plaza that seem to appear on the weekend. Up from San Francisco or further afield for their weekend wine and food fix.