Sonoma, Healdsburg, etc.
Planning a romantic mid-week stay... Quick questions, if we stay in Healdsburg:
1) How far is drive to Napa/Sonoma wineries?
2) Is this a good place to stay, or should we try to stay in Yountville or Calistoga?
(only been to the area once before for 5 hours. went to Neibaum-Coppola and loved it)
3) Restaurant suggetions?
4) I went to a great deli/market near Coppola with picnic tables and great sandwiches, on the main road. Does anyone know the name of what I'm thinking?? (i can't remember the name)
5) We really enjoyed our fancy $50 Coppola tour (wine and cheese in the cellar, etc) Any great worth it expesive/exclusive tours? We're not huge wine buyers but we love experience type things and don't mind paying for them...
I suggest you stay in the area of most of the wineries you'll be visiting. From Sonoma it may be a 45 minute drive to Napa. Healdsburg is a great location for Sonoma while Yountville is centrally located in Napa. You probably stopped at Oakville Grocery for your picnic lunch. Favorite restaurants in Napa are Martini House, Don Giovanni, Mustard's Grill, Bouchon, and of course French Laundry. The CIA at Greystone is fun for lunch, as is takeout from Dean & DeLuca. In Sonoma, I had some great meals at Cyrus and Dry Creek Kitchen. Girl and the Fig is also supposed to be delectable.
RevrendAndy, Thanks for the info and good points. I've been to Napa a bit. But not Sonoma at all. So perhaps I should try it...? Are there good winieries in Sonoma near me? Or are all the good ones 45 minutes away?
Oh and any good bubbly/sparkling wine places to visit?
Jim Town is a fun place to go for lunch. It's surrounded by vineyards so there are lots of good tasting opportunities around there.
Also, check out Westside Rd. It's a nice drive through the hills that are parallel to the valley. There are some great Pinot Noirs being produced up there, among others. If you drive up from Healdsburg, you can make Gary Farrell your destination and then hit several Westside Rd. wineries along the way. Less touristy up there and wonderful wines. http://garyfarrellwines.com
A couple of notes.... Healdsburg is reallly investing some money in making it a touristy competitor to Sonoma. But while its got a Plaza / Jardin like Sonoma and a few other things in common.... it has its own, more contemporary vibe. One of the things they do differently there is a lot more Tasting Rooms located within the town... plus every street has walking tour maps that lead you to the best they have. The Tasting Rooms in Healdsburg go way beyond the ones at the Vineyards... with posh leather couches, recliners better food / cheese pairings and some even have olive oil tastings etc.,
I would recommend that you do any tasting of big wineries within these tasting rooms and reserve your road time for the small, obscure places suggested by other hounds.
As for Chow.... Cyrus is the big shot in town.... California Cuisine with strong Asian influences.
Zin is the more affordable place focusing on finer versions of American classics (one of the few non KFC places to get Fried Chicken in Sonoma County).
Another idea is to get a picnic basket from one of the shops there... and stop at the Ledson winery on your way to Sonoma and picnic by the "castle" http://www.ledson.com/castle.html
If you're coming to Healdsburg, plan to visit the several winery regions nearby, rather than drive to Napa or even Sonoma. Traffic here is tough, especially with current highway construction.
Westside Road has half a dozen wineries and is a lovely ramble through redwoods SW along the Russian River toward the ocean...you can just keep driving to sunset at Jenner. -Tours at Korbel on River Road are popular (I've only been to the garden).
Or from Healdsburg go NW up Dry Creek Valley to another dozen wineries and Lake Sonoma.
If you aren't drived out, Alexander Valley Road-Hwy 128-Chalk Hill Road- Old Redwood Highway is another favorite scenic loop with yet more wineries.
When you're ready to settle down & walk a bit, the Plaza is nice for tourists (and locals). Be sure to visit Downtown Bakery for ice cream & breakfast pastry and Bovolo for picnic treats. Many more posts in CH for Healdsburg and Healdsburg.com has links to the wineries & restaurants.
The grapes are just starting to leaf pinky green now and the mustard in the vineyards is still a stunning acid yellow. The sunsets have been spectacular too. Hope you enjoy your visit.
If you should want to get down to Napa Valley from the Healdsburg area. a nice non-freeway way to do it is to drive south (actually southeast) through Alexander Valley on Hwy 128 which takes you to the north end of Napa Valley at Calistoga with plenty of wineries to try along the way if you want.
You probably had lunch at Oakville Grocery.
Healdsburg is very close to many Sonoma (Russian River) wineries. Could be 45 minutes plus to some Napa wineries. I really like Healdsburg. Wherever you stay it could be a drive to some wineries.
Napa- Martini House, Bistro Jeanty, Market, Ad hoc, N.V., Bouchon. Personally, I'd go to Market for inexpensive, Martini House for more expensive. (Then, of course, there is French Laundry and La Toque...)
Sonoma- Zazu, The Girl and the Fig, The Farmhouse Inn, Willi's Wine Bar. Personally, I like Zazu. Farmhouse Inn is excellent for a romantic dinner. Some love Cyrus (very expensive), others not quite as much.
Sonoma- Martinelli (open), Rochioli (open), Hartford (open), Rosenblum (open), Siduri/Novy (by appt), Carlisle (by appt), August West / Freeman / Sandler (by appt, all at the Freeman property), Rivers-Marie (by appt), Merry Edwards (by appt), Peay (by appt), Kutch / Kosta Browne / Dearfield Ranch (by appt, all at Dearfield Ranch)
Napa- Del Dotto cave tour, and http://winodepot.invisionzone.com/ind...
To add to Whiner's restaurants, I'd second the vote on Zazu (just received a Michelin Recommended). We go there often as it's our neighborhood joint (which is funny when you see where it is...) but the food is ALWAYS interesting and the staff friendly.
For Breakfast if you want to venture into Santa Rosa (which is south of Healdsburg by a bit), there's a place called Rubix that has started to serve breakfast and it's my new favorite. Interesting combinations and not usually too crowded.
Wineries: I have to give "J" a thumbs up if only for their "bubble room", which is a separate room off of the main tasting room but you'll need to make reservations. Last time I was there the tasting (which includes little bites of wonderful thing to munch and a flight of either reds or whites) ran about $35.00 per person. Nice relaxing atmosphere ... could be worth a spin.
I love Healdsburg for so many reasons and am a bit bummed by the fact that I am staying up in Sonoma with my fam for a few days. Besides, the point
anyhow, the little grocery you stopped at I believe is called the Dry Creek Grocery, is on Dry Creek road smack in the middle of it all. I love it too.
Definetly stop by Bella, their cave and wines are amazing!@