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Upcoming Healdsburg trip

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Going to Healdsburg for a couple of days this week and I'm wondering if anyone has any comments/suggestions on our itinerary.

I think we're pretty set for food...we booked the "Bon Appetit" package for Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza so we got a $50 gift certificate per day for some local restaurants (choices were Baci, Charcoutrie, or A Divine Affair). We already have reservations for Cyrus for dinner on our second day, so thinking about getting Italian food at Baci for our first night dinner to change it up. Will prob use the other $50 for lunch at Charcouterie either the second day or before we go home on the third.

As far as wineries, we are thinking about the following:

Day 1:
- J Vineyards: It's on the way during our drive up, and I always like to start wine tasting trips w/ some bubbly
- Ridge Lytton Springs - We're members and we've been to Monte Bello many times (probably my favorite winery of all), but first time at this location
- Mazzocco - Very close to Ridge and has had good reports, especially for zin. Seems like they have a picnic area so we'll probably bring bread/cheese/meats for a late picnic lunch

Will probably check and relax at the B&B after, and maybe hit one (or two) of the local tasting rooms within walking distance from the plaza...any suggestions?

Day 2:
- Silver Oak (Geyserville): My hubby just gotta have some cab
- Preston: For Rhone varietals
- Quivira: For zins, seems like a nice chill small winery
- Mauritson: Maybe, unless we are "wined out" from the first 3

I initially wanted to go to A. Rafanelli, but my hubby wasn't really too keen on going to places that require appointments. Is it really worth the trouble to make an appointment?

Are there any must-go places that I've missed, or any of the above that you would skip? We may also visit a couple wineries on Day 3 before driving back to the Bay Area. We are mainly red wine drinkers and love cabs, pinot, zins, and rhone varietals. For calibration, some of our favorite wines are cabs/zins from Ridge and pinot from Merry Edwards (I like "big" Pinots).


A Divine Affair
330 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA 95448

336 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448

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  1. I would list C. Donatiello Winery as a "must-go" pinot house. It is beautiful, welcoming, and a maker of "big" pinot, particularly their Floodgate vintages. Chris is a terrific host and a great guy. Their Chardonnay is also wonderful, and although I am not a fan of that varietal in general, his recent offerings have been delicious. Along the Russian River, near C. Donatiello, there are some other worthy destinations, and among them I would recommend Moshin.

    I have been to Mazzocco many times, and participate in their wine club (one of the few) and I heartily endorse their Zins, in particular their reserves.

    As for dining, Zin in Healdsburg is always fun, but our recent trips to Geyserville, to Diavolo, have been nothing short of fantastic.

    The Farmhouse Inn in Forestville is a great fine dining choice, by the way.

    Farmhouse Inn
    7871 River Rd, Forestville, CA 95436

    1 Reply
    1. re: rruben1

      We also belong to Mazzocco's wine club--it's a small, unpretentious winery that makes some great zins. We also like Sausal, another family-owned place with excellent zins. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/684686

    2. HIGHLY recommend checking out Papapietro Perry in Healdsburg area. Incredible vino.

      1. We were just in Healdsburg this week on vacation. Rafanelli was one of the best wineries we went to - it's appointment required because it's a small space, but it's very low key with fantastic wines. I thought they were the best zins we had. If there wasn't a one-bottle-of-zin per person, I would have bought a case. The cab and merlot were also great there, plus they have free dark chocolate to snack on while enjoying their wines. Lovely people.

        Also went to J and enjoyed it very much - I am dying to try their Bubble Room with food pairings, but that's only available on weekends. Other winners for me were Merry Edwards (make an appointment, best Chardonnay ever is available now (she makes it only ever 4 years or so, when she runs out of white in her personal cellar), along with their gorgeous pinots) and Lynmar (everything was very good, and a gorgeous setting/room). Also good were Porter Creek (dress warmly, the tasting room is a small cottage), and Unti. I wasn't thrilled with Lambert Bridge. Despite liking their Russian River Cuvee, I was not impressed by Iron Horse. I've been to Quivira on a previous trip and enjoyed it as well. I am unfortunately not familiar with the other wineries you mention, but my SO did the planning and he's a huge pinot fan, so you may find some illumination in where we went.

        I owe a report to the board regarding our meal at Dry Creek Kitchen - one of the best meals I have ever had. In sum, I enjoyed it almost as much as the tasting menu at the Ritz in SF, and more than Meadowwood. Potentially scandalous words, I know. Every single thing I ate there was truly excellent, and there is no corkage for a bottle or two of local wine. After our experience there, it's hard for me to imagine spending more than twice as much at Cyrus, though that would surely be a spectacular meal.

        Dry Creek Kitchen
        317 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA 95448

        Lambert Bridge
        4085 W Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA

        1. Second the vote for Papapietro Perry . We also really enjoyed Mauritson and Zichichi.

          1. if you enjoy beer, go to the bear republic brewery - good tastings available. food is very good but nothing destination-worthy

            1. On Day 2, you absolutely must go to Michel-Schlumberger. It is just up the road from Quivira.

              1. Unfortunately we already came back by the time I saw the replies, so we mainly stuck to our original itinerary but we had a great time at Healdsburg! Here's my report...

                Day 1:
                J Winery - $20 was pretty steep for the tasting, IMO but we really wanted to start with some bubbly. Did not try the NV ones since we can easily find them anywhere, but really enjoyed some of their vintage brut wines and took home a bottle of the 1999 vintage. However, I thought the pinots were thin and lacking flavor (maybe just because I prefer more "powerful" pinots).
                Ridge Lytton Springs - Excellent wines and service as we've come to expect. It's pretty, though I gotta admit I still prefer the Monte Bello location. They had 2 tasting menus, one was free for everyone, and the other was $10, but we tasted both for free since we were members. We wound up buying some of their single-vineyard zins.
                Mazzocco - We bought the most wines here, mainly since they had a really good deal on their Merlot...it's decent at $28, but a steal at $14 which was the price they had if you bought a case. We got a case of the merlot and a couple of their zins, and our tasting was free for buying so much wine. My favorite wine here was their "Sullivan" zin. We also brought some cheese and bread, and had it with a bottle of their Merlot on the patio
                Baci Restaurant - We went here for dinner due to the $50 gift certificate we got from the Healdsburg Inn. Their pizza was excellent, as were the osso bucco and braised lamb that we ordered for our entrees. Their portions are HUGE...we were totally stuffed by the end of the meal and could barely eat our dessert. They have some local wines that are very reasonably-priced, we had a great zin blend from a local winery (unfortunately I forgot the name) for only $30.

                Day 2:
                Silver Oak - We've always liked their cabs so my hubby wanted to visit their winery. We split the $10 tasting, which was actually enough since we had . We tried both their Napa Valley and Alexander Valley cab current releases, but preferred the Alexander Valley one. Didn't actually buy any bottles since their wines can be found for much cheaper at K&L but it was nice to visit the winery.
                Preston - We're not usually white wine people, but their Madam Preston (white rhone-style blend) was fabulous! Also enjoyed their Grenache and Petite Syrah. Tasting was free since we bought a few bottles.
                Quivira - The lady at Preston actually recommended that we go here, even though we have already decided to go. Great zins and rhone blends here too. We had a 2-for-1 tasting coupon from their website but didn't need it since we bought several bottles. When we mentioned that we were going to eat our packed lunch in the car (since it was pouring outside), they were very kind to let us eat our sandwiches in one of their private tasting rooms.
                Mauritson - They both a free and reserve ($10) tasting so we had one of each. Nothing really blew us away, and they didn't refund our tasting fee when buying one of the reserve wines. We probably could have skipped this one I think, our palates were probably tired after 3 wineries.
                Cyrus - Had a wonderful dinner here, probably among my top meals in the Bay Area. The hubby and I each got the 8-course menu with the wine pairings (good thing we just had to walk a couple blocks back to the inn). I can't help comparing it to our last "fancy" dinner, which was Coi in August, since they are both Michelin 2-star restaurants, but we found Cyrus to be a much better experience and more value for the money. Cyrus is not as "molecular", but the portions are heartier, there are more meat courses, more expensive ingredients, and probably the best cheese cart I've seen since Gary Danko (compared to the pitiful amount of a single Andante cheese from Coi). I'm just a sucker for a great cheese course. Their wine pairings are pretty generous compared to similar restaurants, we probably got almost half a glass for each pour. I also liked how they let you order champagne by the half-glass, which was the perfect amount to go with the canapes and amuses, especially since we had 8 more wines after. The standouts for me the "5 tastes" canapes, foie gras, abalone, trout wrapped in smoked soba noodles, poached chicken with uni foam, and braised pork cheek with truffled risotto, and the hazelnut layer cake. Standout wines were the Roederer L'ermitage bubbly (from a magum!), Icardi "Parej" Barolo, and a Rivesaltes from 1945! We only go all out around once or twice a year, and I felt like Cyrus was definitely worth it.

                Day 3:
                Healdsburg Charcouterie - We spent our other $50 gift certificate for lunch here right before we left. We actually had a hard time even getting to the $50 since their prices are very cheap, but eventually got there with 1 glass of wine (my hubby was driving), their charcouterie platter, a salad, and a sandwich. The charcouterie platter is huge and probably would have been enough for lunch, that we could barely finish our entrees. I think this place is pretty decent and I would recommend it, even without the gift certificate. They have no corkage on certain days.
                Merry Edwards - Our favorite winery from our last visit to Sonoma County, and the only one we gave a return visit, since it was on the way back anyway. Loved all of their pinots as usual and took a couple bottles, including one magnum which was on sale.

                Thanks everyone for the recs, will save the other ones we didn't get to for next time...thankfully it's only an hour and a half away!

                336 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                1. Some other spots to consider if/when you make a return trip to the area:

                  Jimtown Store - great for sandwiches and other picnic items

                  Lancaster Estate - they make one of the more underrated cabs in the region. Stop at Jimtown Store first, then Lancaster is 10 minutes away.

                  Chalk Hill - 10 minutes further from Lancaster. Another solid cab producer IMO.

                  Jordan - if hubby likes something as iconic (for better and worse) as Silver Oak, he'll probably want to experience a tasting at Jordan as well. The tour and tasting were actually quite nice, though the fact I knew the Director of Sales there at the time might have had some influence.

                  Jimtown Store
                  6706 Hwy 128, Healdsburg, CA 95448