Farm to Fork: A Culinary Journey in Healdsburg, Sonoma
Sonoma may be Napa’s lesser-known cousin, but this wine region has a charming sprezzatura all its own. If you’re looking for an exclusive food and wine experience, book the Farm to Fork Culinary Journey partnership between Hotel Healdsburg and Jordan Vineyard & Winery, an immersion in nature, food, and wine for all of your senses available June through October.
Where to Stay
With the perfect location right on the square, Hotel Healdsburg is understated yet luxurious, with simple design, clean lines, and lots of sunlight. This 55-room property nudged sleepy Healdsburg into the tourism spotlight when it opened its doors in 2001, attracting visitors from around the globe. The amenities – Sunday morning yoga, complimentary housemade minibar snacks, and organic toiletries made exclusively for the hotel – are world-class.
Where to Spa
Biodynamic treatments and locally-sourced products demonstrate the farm-to-spa philosophy at The Spa Hotel Healdsburg. There are six treatment rooms and a couple’s suite, along with a garden patio, Jacuzzi, and outdoor swimming pool in the olive grove. Try a treatment from the “farm to spa” collection to experience locally grown herbs and produce in a spa environment. The lavender peppermint restorative massage is a treat, with Himalayan salt and herb compresses soothing muscles and a sumptuously thick lavender body butter nourishing your skin.
Where to Dine
Just around the corner, at eco-friendly sister property h2hotel, is Spoonbar a fun restaurant helmed by Chef Louis Maldonado known for fresh food and vibrant flavors. Service is laid-back but sharp and the dishes are complex and tasty. Think grilled asparagus with nước chấm dressing and shaved ham or tender spiced duck breast with stewed strawberries, harissa, spigarello, and caramelized salsify. Vegetarian offerings are outstanding, as are the bright cocktails at the bar next door. Try the house gin and tonic with cucumber and lemongrass-infused tonic as an apertif.
At Hotel Healdsburg, Maldonado also designed the menu at casual pizzeria Pizzando. The more upscale Dry Creek Kitchen is a contemporary Californian white-tablecloth restaurant utilizing plenty of local produce. The highlight of my meal was a grilled octopus appetizer with fava beans, curry, Jordan Winery carrots, and foie gras yogurt.
Around town, Bravas Tapas Bar, Mateo’s Cocina Latina and newly opened Valette are all worth checking out. The town is so compact it’s easy to do a walking dinner tour and cobble together your own tasting menu from a few small bites at different venues.
What to Do
Take one of the hotel’s free eight-speed bikes out for a whirl around town. There are plenty of art galleries, boutiques, and tastings rooms close by, although we don’t recommend drinking and cycling. The downtown area intimate and easy to navigate by foot. If you like sweets, swing by Noble Folk to try their pie or creative ice cream flavors, or both!
Bike over to Seghesio Family Vineyards, less than a mile from downtown, and sip the eight different Zinfandels and many more Italian red and white wines. Take a tour of the winery to see relics from the Italian immigrant family’s past including matriarch Angela’s pasta rolling pin and the original scales used to weigh their grapes from Edoardo Seghesio bought his first vineyard in 1895.
A short drive away and up a winding road is the Jordan Winery and estate. Jordan may be the grandest of the wineries in Sonoma, but don’t feel intimidated. They don’t take themselves too seriously and whether you’re a wine novice or expert, you’ll appreciate the organic garden, cows, and donkeys roaming freely, and the tastings throughout the 1,200 acre vineyard. When you book the Farm to Fork Culinary Journey, you’ll be very well-fed. You might want to skip breakfast the day of your tour, since an elaborate spread of fresh fruit and pastries awaits before the estate tour even begins.
After exploring the organic gardens and meeting a few of the animals on the pasture, you’ll enjoy your first tasting by the Jordan Lake. Two vintages of Jordan’s Russian River Valley Chardonnay are paired with creative veggie hors d’oeuvres presented in an elegant oval shaker box. After exploring the vines – Jordan plants Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec varieties – it’s time for the next tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon, at the top of a rocky hill with a sweeping view of the surrounding wine regions and Mount St. Helena in the distance. The estate tour here is truly one of the best I’ve ever experienced, a leisurely and scenic exploration of some of the best of the region’s food and wine.