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Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

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Washington, DC
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Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

We're planning a 5 night stay in the wine country in late July. I had planned to stay all 5 nights in Napa (using free nights at the Westin), but my husband just decided he'd like a couple of nights in an inn or B&B, so I am scrambling to book our last two nights on the Sonoma side of the mountains. I need help in figuring out where to base ourselves - Healdsburg, Sonoma, or somewhere in between?

My husband is very knowlegeable about French wines - less so California wines (something we want to rectify) and appreciates deep, complex red wines in particular. He'll appreciate personal attention in smaller, high quality wineries. We both like towns with unique shopping and being able to walk to dinner. A nice spa is a plus for me. Great food is a must, but since we have several splurge dinners planned already, we're likely to want some lighter meals. So - please help! What are some of the reasons to pick Healdsburg over Sonoma for our stay?

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1. Re: Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

I love the town of Sonoma and recommend that you spend some time there. It's more down-to-earth than the Napa Valley. I'm terribly fond of Bundschu Gunslag, just outside of Sonoma. They have a gorgeous picnic area and wonderful reds.

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2. Re: Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

Sonoma is an historic town, from the Mexican days, and is built around an 11-acre typical Plaza. The adobe barracks and some of the other original buildings are still here, now housing boutiques and restaurants and a hotel or two.

In addition to the wineries mentioned, if you are staying near the Plaza, you can walk to Sebastiani, and Buena Vista is just a mile or two out on Old Winery Road. This is the site where the Hungarian Colonel, Agostin Haraszthy, brought the first wine grape cuttings from Europe, thus starting the whole thing. The winery itself is a small stone building and sits beneath oak trees.

Benziger Winery, north of the town in Glen Ellen, but still in the Sonoma Valley, has interesting tractor/tram tours of its biodyamic, sustainable vineyards.

Two places to stay on or near the Plaza are the historic El Dorado Hotel (on the Plaza)


and the newer Inn at Sonoma, a Four Sisters property, 1/2 block from the Plaza.


A little further, but still walking distance, is MacArthur Place and Spa. This is the former summer estate of a San Francisco newspaper publisher with a manor house and more recent lodgings on the property. The former horse barn (he raised cutting horses as a hobby) is a restaurant, appropriately named "Saddles".


Here is a website for an overview of the Valley.


Enjoy planning.

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3. Re: Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

Altho' Healdsburg is home to many beautifully restored Victorians (some of which are now B&B inns), Sonoma town has the most historic feeling to its small town ambiance. Healdsburg is more upscale with shops, galleries and restaurants (the town is a culinary delight) in line with that. It is a trendy kind of town that tends to attract younger couples. One of the biggest pluses is its location close to 3 major wine appellation: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley. A daytrip to the Sonoma Coast and the redwoods is also a more convenient one than if you stayed in Sonoma town. Don't wait much longer to make reserv's--inns like Grape Leaf Inn and 410 Matheson book up quickly for the summer months.

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4. Re: Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

The town of Sonoma is very close to the Westin where you are staying. So, I'd visit Sonoma, but stay in Healdsburg. I think your husband would enjoy the wines from the Alexander Valley and Russian River areas.

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5. Re: Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

Healdsburg is a very nice area to base, we were just there this past March and enjoyed a stay at the Inn @ the Plaza, a 4 Sister's Inn. I would try to schedule Cyrus for a meal, it is one of the best restaurants in the wine country right now, we have dined there 3 times now. Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar is also wonderful.

The Hotel Healdsburg is another great choice for lodging in this area and the Dry Creek Kitchen is there. :)

Healdsburg, CA
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6. Re: Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

I would definitly agree that if you stay in Healdsburg, you should try the Dry Creek Kitchen, and Willi's Seafood, both great restaurants right on the plaza.

As others mentioned, Healdsburg is right in the middle of three winery valleys, Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys, so you will probably find more variety of wines if you do stay in that area. Some you and your husband may enjoy in the Dry Creek Valley would be Mauritson, who has an excellent Rockpile Zinfandel, and Unti, which is a much smaller winery with a wonderful collection of reds (due to a small staff, I would recommend a reservation at Unti).

In the Russian River Valley, which really specializes in Pinot Noirs, I really like Lynmar, who has a great tour as well, or Porter Creek if you want to try a smaller winery.

In the Alexander Valley, Hawks has great Cabernets, and Robert Young is another great, historic winery I would highly recommend.

Mandie, Innkeeper

Honor Mansion

7. Re: Best reasons to stay in Healdsburg?

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