We took about an hour and half by car to get from the San Francisco Airport to the town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County California. We could have taken less time, but we wanted to wind our way through some of Sonoma County's beautiful wine country.
The road to this wine capital was lovely, especially on this early spring day, where recent rains had made everything unseasonally green. The area used to be used primarily for grazing cattle, but has slowly been converted to farmland and cultivated into beautiful vineyards with gorgeous estate buildings at the deep ends of sprawling grape fields. I never tire of gazing at all of the beautifully trained grape trees. There were still left over reaches and spaces here and there in-between the big vineyards and my mind was floating in expectation of my coming winery visits.
This area gets foggy in the morning due to the regions oceanic climate and temperature difference can be extreme, with cool early morning fog usually burning off by mid-day. In this normally dry landscape it is hard to find shade. It now makes sense to me why California wines are so condensed and fruity.
Healdsburg is a city located in Sonoma County, California, in the United States. As of 2010, the city had a population of 11,254. Healdsburg is a commercial center for northern Sonoma County as well as being one of Northern California's wine capitals: three of the most important wine-producing regions in the area, the Russian Rier, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley AVAs, all intersect in Healdsburg.
There are over 260 wineries in the area and this town has over 20 shops that represent several wine makers and offer wine tastings. The convenience and location of Healdsburg allows you to narrow down where you would like to visit rather than blinding driving around the over 14 appellations in the area. If you are tired of driving, you can just wander around the city, enjoying wine from the surrounding countryside. Some of the wineries sell their wine exclusively in this town. Well I guess I had to make sure not to miss that!
Let's get the tourist information first! I visited the Chamber of Commerce Office located on Healdsburg Avenue. You can get maps and tourist guide books at bookstores in the area, but at this office it's all free. Chris, the receptionist that day taught me about the best areas to visit and suggested some of the nicer restaurants in the area. I took all of this information back to the hotel and made a plan for the following day.
Stephen & Walker Winery, exclusively sold in Healdsburg. They are regulars at Wine Spectator, consistently scoring over 90.
$10 for tasting 4 wines. I bought a 2012 Pettite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley. Very elegant and complex, dense and powerful, with dark fruit flavors and a good acidic balance. A nicely structured wine.