The epitome of wine country lifestyle, Healdsburg may be my favorite city in all of Sonoma.
They truly have it all: excellent wine, delicious farm‑to‑table cuisine, fascinating history, eclectic art galleries, beautiful music, small town charm, and indulgent, pampering spas.
Below are my top 10 favorite places to eat and drink on your next trip there! 🍷
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery
If I had to choose a singular winery as my “favorite of all time”, Gary Farrell would hold that award. Their amazing winemaker, Theresa Heredia, crafts stunning single‑vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay that showcase the region’s beautiful terroir.
Originally founded in 1982 – before the Russian River AVA even existed – Gary Farrell crafted his first Pinot Noir from fruit grown in the now-legendary Rochioli Vineyard. Today, they continue Gary’s legacy and seek out only the vineyards that possess a truly unique voice. Wines are crafted to tell their story, from the Russian River Valley and beyond.
Did you know that the Russian River Valley has more different soil types than all of France? Experience how that affects wine by exploring a flight of their Pinot Noir.
Flowers Vineyards and Winery
Everything during our visit was wonderful — from the first pour of rosé in the front entrance to sitting outside in the sun, a view of flowering yellow vineyards and Mount Saint Helena in the distant background— I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
Known for pioneering Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines from the rugged coastal ridges of Sonoma Coast, Flowers recently opened their tasting room last summer. Their in-house chef crafts out-of-this-world pairings that bring flavors to light that you never would have imagined (think crisp Chardonnay paired with Estero Gold gougère with lemon zest and wild fennel pollen). It’s outstanding!
A good bottle of wine, much like a good photograph, evokes something inside us.
Emotions, memories, dreams. It connects us to other people, to other places, to other time periods. Both share the story of the creator, but reflect back on the person experiencing them. For me, there is no other more personally enjoyable pairing than photography and wine. I could spend hours contemplating both.
Recently, Aperture Cellars opened a brand-new tasting room. Since it’s beginning, the brand has paid tribute to the owner/winemaker’s father, Andy Katz, by showcasing his photographs on the labels. Now, in his beautiful new space, Jesse Katz takes that to a whole new level. With stunning photographs encompassing the walls, and a statement-making skylight in the shape of a camera’s shutter opening, Aperture Cellars is a place like no other. Not to mention the beautiful vineyard and mountain views from their patio!
If you walk a mile in my shoes, you’ll end up in a wine bar… or a really great wine country restaurant with a fantastic wine list.
“Barndiva has a motto: “Wherever you are, eat the view.
Barndiva’s outdoor space is absolutely stunning— it’s big enough for tables to be widely spread and it feels like a beautiful enchanted garden. The food was absolutely outstanding — I practically devoured my burger and brussel sprouts. And their cheesecake was fantastic!
A standout winery for sure— since their beginnings, Ridgeley Evers has focused on “growing what belongs here” and working in partnership with the land. He produces wine, olive oil, and other produce that makes sense given the Mediterranean-like soil and climate. In his amazing lineup of wines, you’ll find Primitivo, Vermentino, Sagrantino… all biodynamically farmed and filled with expressive notes that are clearly developed in the vineyard.
Ridgeley’s philosophy is simple— great wine comes from the vineyard. “Be a farm, not a factory”. In fact, he taught us during pur visit that the word “winemaker” didn’t exist until the 1960’s in California. The great wineries of Europe have known to trust nature since the beginning, and he’s determined to follow that path, to great success.
Kerith Overstreet is the winemaker and woman behind pretty much everything at Brulium Wines. Named after her children, Bruno, Lily, and Amelia (the name is the first two letters from each of their names), Kerith considers her wines her fourth and final child.
Kerith is incredibly passionate about everything she does, sourcing from top vineyards and growers, and crafting extraordinarily beautiful wines. Most of what she makes are single-vineyard Pinot Noirs that will make your mouth water and heart sing. There’s also an outstanding Chardonnay that I can’t stop thinking about.
Bruliam Wines is small production (around 1000 cases/year). You’ll notice that each bottle features the name of the vineyard it’s sourced from — In exchange for access to outstanding grapes, Kerith promises the vintners a wine that is expressive of their vineyard, reflective of their farming, and brings pride to their partnership. Adding the vineyard name is a symbol of this sacred pact.
If you’re looking for small-lot, single vineyard Pinot with a fantastic woman behind them… look no further!
Located in downtown Healdsburg (walking distance from many hotels!), Carograph is a beautiful tasting room with an even more beautiful lineup of wines.
Named “Cartograph” in reference to the visual marking of ideas, either over time or place, the cartograph on their labels is a visual depiction of the journey that brought Alan Baker and Serena Lourie to winemaking, as well as the ideas that have propelled their journey.
I love Cartograph because it strives for sustainability in all aspects of their business. This reaches far beyond the sustainable practices in the vineyard but also to the winemaking process and even the business structure and employment policies.
The husband/wife duo each has their own set of responsibilities — Alan focuses on sourcing great fruit and making the wine, Serena runs the tasting room and focuses on building the business. Cartograph now produces 2,000 cases of wine annually, focusing mainly on Pinot noir, but including aromatic whites in the style of the Alsace region of France.