Our 70 mile drive north from Fairfield to our first stop Healdsburg, took us past the amazing Sears Point Tidal Restoration Project on San Pablo Bay. Pictures don’t do it justice, but what a great “habitat renewal” story. The recent and ongoing restoration of over 955 acres of tidal marsh provide a home for endangered and native species of the bay ecosystem.
Our primary (we thought) destination for the day was Healdsburg, CA (pop. 11,254), a small town located in Sonoma County. We want to give a shout out to Bart’s Longboat Key, FL friend, neighbor and tennis partner Anthony Manifold, a wine expert and writer (http://grape-press.com). Mr. Manifold recommended we go to this wonderful town to experience “wine country”. And did we ever!
Welcome to wine-loving Healdsburg.
Wine is big business in this area and the town is packed with tasting rooms and shops selling every kind of local wine imaginable. Wine bottles displayed on the sidewalks are both decorative and informational, letting you know the type of wine sold.
After strolling through the wonderful downtown area filled with unusual shops (not a big box store in sight), restaurants and winery tasting rooms, we stopped for a quick snack at the Downtown Bakery and Creamery.
It was tough to pass up these amazing desserts but we were strong.
Fortified with food, we looked for one of the most highly recommended stops in Healdsburg, the Williamson Wine tasting room. 5 well-deserved stars on TripAdvisor.
Owners Dawn (pictured here on the right) and her husband Bill Williamson came all the way from Australia 30 years ago to start a business that would “produce the best grapes and small batch wines possible”. Based on their huge fan base, we think they succeeded.
Our assigned “wine guide” and expert Kaleigh, led us through an introduction to the Williamson’s white and red wines paired with small bites that complimented the individual wines. Bart loved the wine, Rorie loved the interesting food pairings.
After Bart tasted 5 different wines and food pairings offered during his “lesson”, we bought a fine bottle of the God’s nectar to tote 4,000 miles back to Longboat Key, FL.
We continued our walk about town and saw The Blackbird Cafe and Soda Fountain, a cute, popular cafe lined with old fashioned candy and serving amazing gelato in unusual flavors like honey lavender and blackberry honey.
Heading over to the Healdsburg Plaza, we noticed “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. It was a little jarring to see the Christmas decorations on the gazebo flanked by fruit laden orange trees. Not a snowflake in sight.
The wine theme continued with casks lining the sidewalks advertising the Healdsburg Bar & Grill.
Rorie thought this window sign was cute, especially the comment about water. Neither Bart or our son Brendan like H2O…
So many temptations, so little time.
Having had a wonderful walk throughout Healdsburg’s lovely downtown, Rorie and Bart decided to head out again – truly to parts unknown. They set their navigation preferences to back roads and let it decide where they’d end up. Surprise, surprise. The Tour-mobile ended up on country roads winding past more beautiful vineyards in the Napa Valley.
The biggest surprise of all was when we ended up at the world famous Beringer Vineyards in St. Helena (pop. 5,947). Beringer Vineyards is said to be the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley, and is on the National Register of Historical Places.
Bart and Rorie “oohed and aahed” as they strolled the Vineyard’s spectacular grounds. This is the historic Rhine House.
One of Beringers many beautiful tasting rooms and gift shops.
What a wonderful day experiencing the bucolic sights and tastes of Sonoma and Napa area towns. Tomorrow your small town adventurers take on the big city of San Francisco. Join us…