Seemingly in defiance of economic gravity, Healdsburg’s stature as an international wine center continues to grow. Wine enthusiasts returning to celebrate the 2011 harvest will marvel at the number of new wine destinations that have appeared over the last year in and around this stylish town at the convergence of the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. Here are but a few of the many new tasting rooms, wine bars, and restaurants visitors and locals alike will want to explore during the 2011 harvest season.
Perhaps the biggest news in Healdsburg proper is the recent opening of the H2 Hotel by owners of the venerable Hotel Healdsburg. In addition to a living green roof, state-of-the-art eco-tecnologies, and 36 rooms appointed in an “elegant utilitarian” style, the H2 sports Spoonbar, a Mediterranean restaurant and lounge featuring a unique spoon-filled water wall.
A short walk across the Healdsburg Plaza from the H2 is Taste of Terroir, a tasting room featuring some 35 wines produced by Boisset Family Estates wineries in California and France. The unique tasting experience here focuses on nuances of California and French terroir as expressed through Boisset’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.
Other new Healdsburg venues worthy of a visit are Portalupi–next to the historic Raven Theater serving Italian varietals in a couch-filled welcoming tasting room–and Affronti–a contemporary wine bar and restaurant boasting over 30 wines, live music on Thursday nights, and a jazz brunch on Sundays.
An easy drive to the south of Healdsburg is Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, a world-famous producer of Chardonnay wines that has just opened to the public for the first time since its inception in 1973. In addition to tasting this winery’s impressive lineup of Chardonnay and also Pinot Noir wines, you’ll want to check out the professional croquet courts, which have hosted the World Croquet Championship. Sonoma-Cutrer is an unusual winery in an unusually beautiful setting. Plan on a lengthy visit here to fully appreciate the wines and the spectacular grounds.
Just to the east of Healdsburg on Alexander Valley Road is the new Medlock Ames Tasting Room. Here you can sit on the shaded deck and take in sweeping views of the Valley and the Medlock Ames gardens while you enjoy a private tasting of this limited-production winery’s wines paired with small bites. Many afternoons the friendly staff serves up slices of pizza from the wood-fired oven on the grounds at no additional charge. When the tasting room closes at 5:00 you can linger on in the adjacent Alexander Valley Bar, which is also operated by the winery.
Where To Taste:
H2 Hotel and Spoonbar, 219 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg; 707-431-2202 (hotel); 707-433-7222 (restaurant); www.h2hotel.com.
Taste of Terroir, 320 Center Street, Healdsburg; 707-473-9707; www.boissettasteofterroir.com. Open 10:30-5:30 daily; open until 9:00 PM Thursday-Saturday.
Portalupi, 107 North Street, Healdsburg; 707-395-0960; www.portalupiwine.com. Open 10:30-7:00 daily.
Affronti, 235 Healdsburg Avenue #105, Healdsburg; 707-431-1113; www.affrontihealdsburg.com. Open 11:30-9:00 daily except closed on Tuesdays; open until 10:00 PM on Thursdays.
Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards, 4401 Slusser Road, Windsor; 877-797-3489; www.sonomacutrer.com. Open 10:00-4:00 Thursday-Monday; tasting reservations suggested.
Medlock Ames Tasting Room and Alexander Valley Bar, 3487 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg; 707- 431-8845 (tasting room); 707-431-1904 (bar); www.medlockames.com. Tasting room open 10:00-5:00 daily. Bar open from 5:00 PM daily.
Other New and Notable:
Vintners Signatures, 4001 Highway 128, Healdsburg; 707-857-3300; www.vintnerssignatures.com. Open 10:30-5:00 daily.
Vintage Wine Estates Tasting Room, 308-B Center Street, Healdsburg; 707-921-2893; www.vintagewineestates.com. Open 10:00-6:00 daily.
Roadhouse Winery, 240 Center Street, Healdsburg; 707-922-6362; www.roadhousewinery.com. Open 12:00-6:00 Mon-Thur and 11:00-7:00 Fri-Sun.