Every few years my husband and I take a trip to Sonoma County to collect wine. We do quite a lot of entertaining and enjoy finding new and interesting wines to share with our guests. And Sonoma County is a great place to do just that. Over the years we have found many lovely wines there that you will not find in your local grocery or liquor store.
We start our trip by flying to San Francisco or Oakland, renting a car and heading straight to Healdsburg. This small, quaint town has, on multiple occasions, won the award for one of the top ten best towns in America. The town square with a park in the center will make you feel like you’re stepping back in time. There are shops, tasting rooms, art galleries, and restaurants all around and off the square.
One of our favorite restaurants is Dry Creek Kitchen. Chef Charlie Palmer offers innovative, creative and delicious items in an elegant, yet comfortable setting. The menu includes a wide variety of items, including some plant based options.
Another one of our other favorite restaurants in Healdsburg is Bravas Tapas, also located right on the square. This is a fun and lively place for tapas and paella. Barndiva, located just off the square, also has delicious fare from their family farm, and other local producers. This farm to table restaurant is in a picturesque setting with indoor and outdoor seating.
Soda Rock is one of our favorite wineries in the county, and one of the oldest wineries in the area. The historic building was the site of the original Alexander Valley general store and post office.
My husband likes to find what he calls “dirt road wineries.” As the name implies, we find them at the end of dirt roads and off the beaten path. One such winery is Martorana Family Winery. They have been making wines for many years, starting in Italy, before settling in Dry Creek Valley. They have a California organic certification, and in addition to delicious wines, they also make olive oil.
Bella Winery another small, family run winery is located off the beaten path and offers delicious zinfandels in a rural setting.
We visited the Toad Hallow tasting room just off the square in Healdsburg. Toad Hallow was founded by Todd Williams, the brother of Robin Williams. The story told to us by the tasting room employee is this; apparently when Robin was young he called his brother “Toad” rather then “Todd,” thus the name of the winery. However, that is not confirmed on the website. Hmm, anyway, their wines are delicious and incredibly affordable. Sadly, both Todd and Robin have passed away. The winery is run now by Todd’s wife, Frankie Williams.
The Sonoma county area is a gorgeous place to visit, I want to stop at every bend and turn in the road to take photos.
When visiting wineries, be sure to have a designated driver, or take a tour. Better to be safe than have any problems. There are many companies that offer tours, vans, etc, so you don’t have to drive.
Have you visited Sonoma County? If so, please leave a comment below with your favorite wineries.