Not enough time in California Wine Country

My husband and I recently returned from our first visit to wine country. Our reason for heading to the Sonoma area actually had nothing to do with wine. But we managed to squeak in a couple of days just the same. Before our visit, I bought a book about everything you ever wanted to know about the area and then got thoroughly confused. I asked everyone I knew for recommendations and decided there were just too many choices for the two short days we would be hangin’ there. What follows is where we wound up!

North of Santa Rosa is a quaint little town called Healdsburg. It has a lovely town plaza surrounded by wine tasting shops, boutiques, nice restaurants, two dynamite bakeries, a memorable art gallery and even a tiny quilt shop called Fabrications. We lingered the longest in the Oakville Grocery, bookstore and kitchen shop!

We didn’t have a huge amount of advance notice when we booked the trip, so I was a tad concerned about finding nice accommodations. The B&B we chose was actually our third choice, as two other options were full. The Haydon Street Inn (www.haydon.com) was built in 1912 and restored with the perfect mixture of old and modern. It far exceeded our expectations. The Victorian mansion is a five-block stroll from all the action in the town square of Healdsburg. Our hosts were John, a former executive chef from Churchill Downs in Kentucky, and Keran. Can this guy cook!!! We stayed in the huge Cottage Suite. Separate from the main house, it has a claw-footed tub and modern shower and lots of lovely touches.

Every morning John cooked up an amazing three-course gourmet breakfast for guests in the main house. The cold raspberry soup, grilled grapefruit and ham/cheese omelet were my favorite. In the evening there is a reception with local wine and snacks. Did I mention that John built a pizza oven in the backyard? I know … I had to do a double-take when I saw it. You should see him hand toss that pizza dough. My favorite pizza was the pesto topped with cheese and artichokes. Are you drooling yet?

We soon learned restaurants require reservations and Keran made them all for us. We loved Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar (small plate fare to share … loved the lobster rolls), Ravenous (teeny tiny place with amazing food/great desserts) and Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar (www.zinrestaurant.com) touts farm fresh at your table. Oh, and we also ate lunch at The Girl & the Fig (www.thegirlandthefig.com) in Sonoma after hitting a winery tour in the morning. Loved it!

Come back next week. I’ll be writing about the winery tour/tasting we took!

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