Head to Healdsburg for Domestic Imbibing, European Vibin’

Pandemic still have you not quite ready to go to Europe? Healdsburg, California, offers endless options for feeling like you are abroad without leaving the USA.

Despite what I thought was a decent familiarity with Sonoma Wine Country, a first-timer’s trip left me seriously smitten.

From the darling downtown plaza to the creative cuisine and lively locals, it is safe to say I have a new favorite Northern California vacation destination.

Here’s how to make your Healdsburg hiatus heavenly:

Travel: Avoid the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. A new, four-hour, nonstop American Airlines flight into Santa Rosa County has you sipping on your favorite varietal by lunch which surely beats the 10-plus-hour trek to Bordeaux or Champagne.

Stay: By far the most luxurious resort in the area, the 130-room Montage Healdsburg is painstakingly positioned on 258 acres to showcase 22,000 preserved oak trees and vines. One-third of every room is dedicated to outdoor living with a balcony or deck. Rooms start at $645.

Wine: Healdsburg’s proximity to the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys makes it perfectly primed to satisfy a variety of tasting palettes.

Even the most seasoned wine sippers cannot deny the elegant presence the ivy-covered Jordan Estate château commands from the moment one steps on the property. Whether you are a point-savvy member that has accrued enough points to stay in one of the renovated guest suites or simply a first-timer tasting their way through Paris on the Terrace, you can be sure that this Healdsburg Grande dame, celebrating 50 years in the business, is going to treat you like family.

Pro tip: In addition to the outstanding reds and whites, be quick to say oui to the Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the Jordan Cuvée by Champagne AR Lenoble.

New kid on the block Marine Layer is bringing a taste of the Sonoma Coast to the Healdsburg Plaza. Offering small-production Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, this is not your grandmother’s tasting room. An example? Say goodbye to charcuterie boards. Marine Layer partners with “farm-forward” neighbor Little Saint to offer mezze plates consisting of dips, spreads, house-made crackers, and crudités.

Dine: Immediately off the flight and looking for a leisurely yet lively lunch before checking in? Bravas Be De Tapas, with a darling patio in downtown Healdsburg, serves up sensational small plates and more extensive offerings like paella. My favorites included serrano ham and manchego bocadillos, goat cheese toast, and the Dungeness crab fideauá.

At the Montage Healdsburg, Hazel & Hill perfectly presents French-influenced California cuisine. Whether enjoying a meal in a treehouse-inspired private dining room or noshing al fresco amidst the seemingly endless terrain, côte de boeuf and a local red have never tasted so good.

Chef Dustin Valette’s The Matheson with a rooftop patio overlooking the square impresses discerning diners with his ode to “micro-seasonal” ingredients that showcase the farmers and ranchers of the Sonoma County region.

Although freelance writer Diana Oates travels the globe in search of the latest and greatest hotels, restaurants, and luxury listings, her favorite place to be is at home with her family in the Park Cities.

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