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Oct 19, 2009 09:38 AM

Healdsburg recommendations

We are going to be in sine country for three nights in November. We are staying in the Carneros region, so will be close to both Napa and Sonoma. We already have reservations for two of the nights at Redd and Ad Hoc. Our dilemma is whether it is worth the drive to spend all or part of a day in the Healdsburg area. On the plus side of the trip is that we are pinot noir lovers and would really enjoy all of the great wines in that area. Plus we would love to try Dry Creek Kitchen or Cyrus. But if we spend an afternoon tasting and have an early dinner, are we going to regret the long drive back to our accommodations? We are staying at a private cottage and relocating for the night is not an option.

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  1. Healdsburg is my favorite town in Wine Country, so I think it's definitely worth the drive. The wines along Dry Creek road are great, and it's a beautiful drive and a great area. I think that you'll have such a good time there and with dinner (especially if you go to Cyrus), that you won't regret the drive back, especially if you do a 5:30 dinner. The last time I was up there, we went to Preston and Wilson, which we liked a lot, Rafanelli, which was a nice visit but not with particularly good wines.

    1. Dry Creek Kitchen isn't worth walking across the plaza, let alone that kind of drive.

      Cyrus could be worth the hour's drive. Much better than Redd. It serves tasting menu only (vegetarian or omnivore), so it's a long meal and you'll need to plan accordingly. But it would really be a shame to miss the cocktails and exploring the wine list.

      Have you considered Estate Restaurant in Sonoma?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Wow, that's a long, long drive (a) at night (b) after a day of driving and wine tasting, and (c) after a lengthy dinner with wine. We live in St. Helena and would think twice about a major dinner with wine in Healdsburg. And if you're in Carneros any route (over to Petaluma and up 101, up Highway 12 through Sonoma to Santa Rosa and 101 or over to 29 and up the Napa Valley) is full of two lane roads with twists, turns traffic and heavily patrolled.

        If you want to have dinner in the Healdsburg area I'd suggest something lighter and more casual. The Dry Creek Valley is really pretty this time of year and full of interesting wineries making good wines. For personal reasons we like Dry Creek Vineyards and Preston, but there are others.

        If you want to look for Pinot Noir, the best ones in this area are in Carneros and Russian River, which is more or less southwest of Healdsburg. Check the locations of some of your favorite producers to determine a route and consider dinner on the way back to the cottage in the Santa Rosa area, including Graton and Sebastopol, in Sonoma or over in Napa.

        1. re: MRMoggie

          Spotted this Chowhound yarn on West County Sonoma, which is where a number of the top Pinot producers reside. St. Rose is closed (at least the chef-owner is gone). I can only speak to a couple of listings -- Merry Edwards makes top-notch wines, and Zazu is a treat.

      2. I live in Healdsburg and I agree with others. I dont think you want to drive at night this time of year. The road can get foggy and we get alot of rain this time of year.
        I enjoy the Dry Creek Kitchen as do my friends. They have excellent local produce , I also love Cyrus but they are different. Cyrus is more formal and a 3-4 hour meal. You might check DC menu , they have a great Sonoma Neightbor deal for a 3 course plus wine for arnd $50 and we go alot to their friday $25 three course lunch, Their lamb, if on, is wonderful as is Cyrus's. The problem is you do not want to rush at Cyrus and it will be a minimum of 3 plus hours. You could order alacarte in bar at Cyrus , The bar area is very very nice.

        1 Reply
        1. re: celeryroot

          I love Cyrus and would recommend it highly. But, never would I drive back to Carneros (where I live) after an evening in Healdsburg. At most, I would have lunch at Dry Creek Kitchen and then return to Carneros in the afternoon. Save Cyrus for when you can sleep over in Healdsburg.

        2. Thanks for all of the replies - it is really helpful to hear about personal experience with the drive. Things always look easier when you are just looking at a map! We will save dinner in Healdsburg for another trip.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tarein

            It is not , by the map, very far BUT the roads are 2 lane and dark at night. Wise choice. Next time stay in Healdsburg area , lots of nice rentals along the river. Enjoy yourself.

          2. New Michelin Bay Area/Wine Country guide just out and has a couple of interesting very good opposite opportunities in Napa.

            Michelin gives an old favorite -- La Toque -- one star and newcomer, and very different, Ubuntu a star as well. La Toque reminds me of a one of two star place in France, mildly formal but comfortable and Ken Frank is an excellent chef.

            Unbuntu is, well, Napa -- home grown vegetarian with a yoga studio on the second floor. Interesting wine list, excellent pizza, etc. and you can say you had a one star Michelin pizza.