CSL Weekend Getaway to Healdsburg, Sonoma County

Maximize your weekend trip to California’s wine county as CSL toasts our choices for the best restaurants, adventures and of course– wine!

City Style and Living Magazine Alexander valley vineyards, downtown healdsburg
A look at beautiful Alexander valley vineyards, A street in downtown Healdsburg. / K&S Media

Maximize your weekend getaway to Healdsburg, Sonoma County (California’s wine county) as CSL toasts our choices for the best restaurants, adventures and of course– wine!

Lake Sonoma City Style and Living Magazine
Lake Sonoma. / K &S Media

Take an afternoon hike on the Half-a-Canoe Loop Trail at Lake Sonoma. Along the way, survey the breathtaking rolling grassland, chaparral and gray pine forests that surround you. Stop to photograph the miniature daisies and wildflowers (and catch your breath). Travel back to the hotel, and take a well earned nap until dinner.

City Style and Living Magazine Wili's seafood, wilson winery
A lobster roll at Willi’s seafood, Victoria and Sydney Wilson of Wilson winery and Soda Rock Winery. / K&S Media

Having worked up an appetite, walk to Willi’s Seafood and Raw Bar  and enjoy an array of delicious seafood including flash fried calamari with orange chili gremolata, crudo platter (tuna tartare, halibut ceviche and charred rare ahi) and dungeness crab cakes with meyer lemon tartar sauce.

After a good night sleep, drop by for a mid-morning wine flight at Dry Creek Valley’s Wilson Winery, including award winning 2011 Molly’s Petite Sirah, and juicy 2014 Gold Medal Sonoma County Harvest Fair winner, the 2012 Nolan zinfandel. Inside the iconic tin barn, lined with American and French oak barrels, winemaker Victoria Wilson discusses the intricacies of terroir and varietals, while you sip one of Wilson’s newest vintages, straight from the barrel.

Healdsburg Soda Rock Winery J VineyardsCity Style and Living Magazine
Soda Rock Winery and J Vineyards; / K&S Media

11:00 a.m. SPARKLE ON
Drive to J Vineyards & Winery amongst the undulating hills of the Russian River Valley and sample the legacy tasting – a delicious selection of cheese, charcuterie and accoutrements prepared by J’s executive chef, Erik Johnson. With an ideal cool, coastal, micro-climate, crisp sparkling wines excel. Begin with the zesty J Cuvee XB (nv), paired with fresh ricotta, and finish with J Bin 1008 (nv), paired with a creamy goat/cow blend cheese and roasted hazelnuts that echo the complexity of the wine.

City Style and Living Magazine Costeaux bakery, armstrong state park healdsburg
Will Seppi of Costeaux bakery, The mighty redwoods at Armstrong state park. / K&S Media

Fill up on Costeaux French Bakery’s freshly baked bread or signature French onion soup made with dry sherry.

2:30 p.m. DOWN TO EARTH
Take a leisurely stroll through Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, home to 805 acres of Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwoods). Guide Garth recounts his own magical memories of the forest, where, “you can feel the energy of the trees.”

Alexander Valley Vineayards Bocce City Style and Living Magazine
Alexander Valley Vineayards, A dish at Bocce / K&S Media

6:30 p.m. KISS KISS
Head to Baci Café and Wine Bar greeted by the chef-proprietor team, Lisbeth Holmefjord and Shari Sarabi. After mulling over the extensive menu, with a focus on local and fresh seasonal ingredients, taste the antipasti, gamberetti marinati  – grilled wild Gulf shrimp, chili, lime, mint, feta cheese and extra virgin olive oil – followed by a fall-off-the-bone stinco d’ agnello al forno, an organic slow braised lamb shank in jus served on polenta with wild mushrooms and vegetables.

10:00 a.m. CAVE LIFE
Enter the 25,000 square foot cave, embedded into a hillside at Wetzel family-owned Alexander Valley Vineyards and you will feel as though you have been transported to France. Cyrus (the flagship wine) is a perfect expression of American-made cabernet sauvignon with balanced structure and concentrated fruit.

11:00 p.m. ROCK IT OUT
If the majestic locale doesn’t have you swooning, the wines at Soda Rock Winery will. With a particular focus on Bordeaux varietals, Soda Rock excels at food-friendly wine and concentrated yet balanced fruit. The 2012 Primitivo with juicy dark berry fruit and hints of spice and coffee is an instant favourite.

City Style and Living Magazine Simi Winery, dragonfly floral healdsburg
Chef Vazzoler of Simi Winery, A stunning floral arrangement at Dragonfly Floral. / K& S Media

Let your creative juices flow with a flower arranging class at Dragonfly Floral using a variety of luscious organic flora plucked mere minutes before from their farm. The rose bushes alone will have you in awe.

End your trip at Healdsburg’s oldest continuously operated winery, SIMI. Dinner prepared by executive chef Kolin Vazzoler, begins with an asparagus salad with lemon, kumquat, radish and egg served with SIMI’s 2014 sauvignon blanc followed by stuffed pappardelle, ricotta, fava and pea shoots served with the 2012 Russian River Valley reserve chardonnay and ending with an opera cake with honey ice cream served with a sweet 2013 SIMI Russian River special select late harvest chardonnay. The menu shows off Vazzoler’s deft touch and refined technique.

Where We Stayed

Hotel Les Mars.  Read the full hotel breakdown.

This travel article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.