#TravelTuesday: Head Over Heels For Healdsburg, CA

by Babs Chandrasoma on July 12, 2016 in Travels,
Healdsburg Town Square e1468216103323

If you have ever had the privilege to experience Healdsburg, CA, (pronounced Heelsburg) you will understand when I say I left a piece of my heart in this charming, laid back town.

Nestled in the rolling hills of Sonoma Country, at the center of three intersecting growing appellations, Dry Creek, Alexander River Valley and the Russian River Valley, the region is a haven for grape growers. Just an hour drive from San Francisco, Healdsburg should be on any traveler’s wish list. As a wine lover, foodie, outdoor adventure type or simply in search of a remarkable getaway, Healdsburg is the perfect place.

Do you enjoy the great outdoors? The area is home to some of the best cycling and hiking trails to be found. The scenery alone is enough to make even the less adventurous explore their wild side. Fields of wildflowers, towering Redwoods and miles of vineyards are around every corner. Segway of Healdsburg is a great option if you are considering a less strenuous outing while taking in the beautiful landscape of the region and sampling the area wines.

The views at Christopher Creek, paired with their wines, are truly an experience. Photos by Babs Chandrasoma
The views at Christopher Creek, paired with their wines, are truly an experience. Photos by Babs Chandrasoma

Christopher Creek, a modest winery named after the previous owners son who, as a child, played in the creek on the land.  With no distribution, marketing, along with producing less than 6,000 cases a year, this Russian River Valley winery, may be slight in size by California vineyard terms, don’t be fooled, the wines are flavorful and pleasing.

Foppianno’s Vineyards, family owned for more than 120 years, is rich in history and a mainstay in the community. Giovanni Foppiano moved his family to California in 1855, for the lure of the Gold Rush but instead found his riches through the grape industry. The family survived prohibition, 1919-1933, through selling grapes, prunes, apples and pears grown on the family farm. Fast-forward to 2016, and still thriving today, Foppianno’s is a fascinating stop. Be sure to ask about the photograph, circa prohibition, displayed in the tasting room.  

Feeling more venturesome, my favorite experience was cycling with Wine Country Bikes — be sure to request Tac as your tour guide! The route is scenic and gently gliding along country roads with sprawling vineyards and exquisite homes. Along the way we stopped at three wineries, Quivara Vineyards, Martorana Family Winery, and Longboard Vineyards, for tastings and a quaint al fresco lunch.

Quivira Vineyards prides itself as an existing biodynamic farm, which translates into creating a balance with the natural surroundings to generate and maintain the healthiest soil possible without disturbing the environmental stability.

The Martorana Family Vinery has great charm.
The Martorana Family Vinery has great charm.

As with many Healdsburg wineries, Martorana Family Winery is family owned and operated. The tasting room is built into the hillside to preserve the scenic views and protect Dry Creek that runs through the vineyards. The rooftop garden and seating is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine and let your cares melt away.  Generating wine and olive oil, Martorana is a little known treasure enjoyed by the community.   

What do surfing, an Israeli immigrant and wine have in common? The answer to these questions awaits your visit to Longboard Vineyards. Owner Oded, an avid surfer, discovered a creative outlet through winemaking and has not looked back. Be sure and ask Oded about his worldly experiences, he creates delightful wines and is a wonderful storyteller.  

A new undertaking launched by the Jordan Vineyard and Winery is a breathtaking hike that starts at the tallest peak, Vista Point. The view extends for miles and provides a panoramic view of the 1,200 acres, including the Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley. Established in 1974, the winery chateau is nuzzled in the Alexander Valley section of the estate and more than half of the land is preserved as the natural habitat and optimal for the hiking journey. Don’t forget to check by the estate gardens and say hello to Maverick and Goose, the pet donkeys, among other animals living on the property.

If you go, try the Hawaiian Ahi Au Poivre. You can thank us later.
If you go, try the Hawaiian Ahi Au Poivre. You can thank us later.

The restaurants in Healdsburg are known for sourcing locally and farm-to-table seasonal menus blending the flavorful tastes of the region. Valette Healdsburg, established in 2015, is the vision of two local brothers’ aspiration to create a restaurant that highlights the best locally sourced ingredients, wines, and atmosphere of Sonoma County region. Chef Dustin Valette blends his years of culinary experience with the local flavors to prepare rare and unique dishes. Paired with the welcoming hospitality of Aaron Garzini, Front of the House and co-owner, this energetic pair gives new meaning to welcome home.

Spoon Bar goes beyond the locally sourced mindset of the area by taking it up a notch, not only with the food, but even the plates they serve it on are through local potter Jered Nelson. The pseudoscience talents of Chef Casey and Chef Patrick grace each handcrafted original plate. The fresh seasonal produce influences the menu selection making each visit an experiment into the unknown.

The Mixed Antipasto Salad and Chicken Liver Crostini at Campo Fina packs a serious punch.
The Mixed Antipasto Salad and Chicken Liver Crostini at Campo Fina packs a serious punch.

Owner and Chef, Ari Rosen, prepares dishes from the heart and the spirit of his childhood Tuscany roots at Campo Fina. The menu consists of Old Italian family recipes and sourced, as much as possible, by local farmers. The restaurant name is composed of “Campo,” meaning field, and “Fina,” the last fragment of his daughter’s name. The climate in Sonoma County is perfect to enjoy the patio and bocce ball court while enjoying a brick oven pizza and local wine.  

Costeaux French Bakery opened in 1923, starting as a French American bakery, baking one type of bread that was delivered to the area and payment was expected once a year from the patrons. In 1981, the Seppi family purchased the bakery and exploded in popularity after winning a gold medal at the Harvest Fair. The award-winning recipe all begins with the Mother’s Starter.  History goes, the mixture was brought over from by French soldiers in mason jars from their Mother’s kitchens. A portion of the starter is fermented and shaped then rests for 24 hours and then baked to a golden perfection. The recipe is used to this day and Costeaux’s was awarded National Bakery of the Year in 2009.

Barndiva Studio, offering an eclectic blend to the Healdsburg scene, is an art studio by day and private event center by night. Customers can browse the rare art collection and enjoy a handpicked bistro menu and signature cocktails. The courtyard is a perfect setting for a romantic outdoor wedding or reception, covered in flowers and vines, which create a naturally shaded event venue for special celebrations.

This is definitely the place to rest your head.
This is definitely the place to rest your head.

The Camellia Inn is a historic family owned bed and breakfast whose namesake is present throughout the landscape with more than 50 species of Camellia’s gracing the property. Innkeeper, Lucy Lewand, creates a warm and welcoming reception for each guests and is honored to carry on the tradition of the longest family-owned and managed inn in the area.

Each of the nine rooms is uniquely and exclusively decorated with a mixture of past and present comforts. Upon arrival in my room I noticed thought provoking signage referring to the bedding and inquiring with the staff if interested. Once I crept into bed on my first night I completely understood, the sheets are indescribably comfy and I had to order a set for home.  

The charming decor of the main house is filled with antiques and home touches. I met people from all over the country during the homemade family style breakfast provided by the inn each morning. An added touch was the option of breakfast to go where the staff provides a delicious sandwich and fruit.

A recent addition of the Camellia Inn offering is spa treatments; guest can enjoy a relaxing massage at the inn’s special designed treatment room.  

Lucy makes it her personal mission to be sure each guest is greeted and is made to feel welcomed. The Camellia Inn is epitome of hospitality!