Saturday, May 23, 2015

A trip to Sonoma - Downtown Healdsburg

Being so close to wine country in California it seemed amazing that we hadn't made more of an effort to explore the fantastic cheese and vineyards nearby so we made a weekend of it and visited some highlights around Sonoma County.

We stayed at a local apartment hotel not far from Healdsburg and used this as our central base. I'll follow up with some more places that we visited but this town really had that "couple's weekend away" vibe down to a tea.

Downtown Healdsburg has that quaint small town America feel with old style brick architecture and a delightful central square - like something straight out of the Gilmore Girls but on the West Coast.

Antiquing is a past time that could easily be a real habit if you lived nearby, there's plenty of these cute little knick knack and furniture stores mostly owned by older families or gay couples who've moved north from the hustle of San Francisco. Sadly the prices are reflective of the tourist nature of the town and the nearby Silicon Valley dollars - no bargain basement prices here!

There are plenty of other local sites to see like this Fan Museum which was sadly closed on the day we visited. 

Numerous local wineries have store fronts in Healdsburg and offer tastings at very reasonable prices during the day. We're really here for rest and relaxation but you can see many people hopping from one show room to the next trying many tipples. You could easily spend an entire day or two just trying different tasting rooms, but we limit ourselves to just a couple. A full list of all the showrooms can be found on the Healdsburg town website.

Kendall Jackson are well known for their Californian classics like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The style of Syrah found in California is very similar to the Shiraz (same variety, different name) found in Australia due to the similar climate. 

Portalupi wine is a much more Italian style wine, good with food but probably a little strong for my tastes. They focus on casual approachable wine with an Italian flaire like Vaso di Marina which comes in a unique milk jug familiar to those of us who buy organic milk in California.

They have a very casual tasting room and feature tasting plates to try with the wine.

The town is also filled with great coffee shops, featuring local and freshly roasted coffees like this Flying Goat Coffee house. Not a Starbucks to be seen (phew!) Try picking up a book from one of the many local stores and sit down for a peaceful brew. 

One thing I love about small town America is the great diners and all day breakfasts that can be found. We've earnt a good meal after all the walking around and the Center Street Cafe and Deli doesn't disappoint. It's all cutesy Americana with 1950s original signs on the wall and a sausage and biscuit breakfast plate with bottomless cups of coffee. Sadly it looks like this diner has closed since we visted but there were plenty of other local stops with similar fare.

We have an apartment with a full kitchen though so we're keen to cook some of the amazing local produce rather than eat out after a day of site seeing and snacking.

The locals recommend we stop by Big John's Market which is a little like an independent WholeFoods Market. The entire shop is stocked from top to bottom with local oils, wines, coffee and more, it's a foodies paradise.

The best part though is the cheese cabinet which is an entire row of delicious morsels. There are fantastic local Sonoma Cheese like Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Farmstead, Marin French Cheese Company, Bodega ranch and Cover Stornetta many of which feature regularly in our fridge at home! If you're interested in knowing more about local cheeses then defintely check out the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail with details of dairy openings and tasties. My favourites have to be the Point Reyes Blue and the Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor and the quality of goats cheese in Northern California is unparalleled outside of Europe.

They have great local produce and an amazing butcher at Big John's inspire us to make lamb souvlaki with greek salad and pita. Yum!

There is so much food related tourism in this town you could hardly fit it in in one day. Charcuterie and cheese places, coffee shops and restaurants featuring local produce abound. If this has given you a taste for a cute little town and the perfect weekend getaway then check out the chamber of commerce's town map featuring all the places fit to eat and see!


A quaint small town in wine country perfect for a weekend away

No comments:

Post a Comment