A trip to Wine Country usually means driving around in traffic as you meander from one winery to the next. Healdsburg, on the other hand, offers an in-town experience where you can ditch the car and take it all in on foot. This year, a handful of gorgeous new tasting rooms have sprung up around the square, each with a unique design. Here's where to stop for a bit of eye candy with your wine.
Designed by Lisa Steinkamp and Kelly Dorrance, Banshee's tasting room, which just opened in September, feels like you walked onto the set of a Restoration Hardware meets HD Buttercup shoot—reclaimed wood floors and walls, distressed leather furniture, and a vintage communal table as the center piece of the space. The three super-cute founders—Noah Dorrance, Baron Ziegler, and Steve Graf—like to call it "Mission District San Francisco meets old-school wine country vibe." The Pinot Noirs here make for easy drinking, perfect for pairing at dinner parties with friends. Small bites from SHED chefs are also on offer.
Also opened this fall, Cartograph sports a modern minimalist aesthetic (charcoal gray walls and couch, coffee table with embedded globe, undulating mesh metal bar) and cool-climate Pinot Noir (from both Russian River and Mendocino), many on tap at the new tasting room. Here, you'll see beakers and test tubes that illustrate the science behind the process. The wine label's signature map shows the journey of husband-and-wife winemakers Alan Baker and Serena Lourie, who are perhaps some of the nicest people on the square.
Partake by K-J
Wine snobs might first turn those noses up at this new concept by Kendall-Jackson—glass bubble chandeliers, reclaimed wood tables, and triptychs of wine country art adorning the walls—opened this past March, but the artfully plated small bites paired with wine flights are just the answer for those looking for an inventive wine tasting experience. The table conversation will no doubt center around the mystery glass. Poured in black stemware, guests are tasked with guessing the varietal. It's wine tasting with a fun twist.
After a five-year absence, Rosenblum Cellars is back in town with a revamped tasting room, lounge, and outdoor patio. Housed in a corrugated barn-like building, Rosenblum shares space with Murphy-Goode Winery, The Wurst, and Relish Culinary Adventures. The vibe here is bright and airy, with distressed wood counters to go along with the chic farmhouse theme. The focus here is on Zinfandel —Wine Spectator even named it "a mecca for Zin-Fanatics."
Mueller had its homecoming this past summer with the opening of its cellar tasting room across from the Raven Performing Arts Center. Think concrete walls and a dark wood bar—the quintessential man cave. Wine Spectator named their flagship wine, Emily’s Cuvée” Pinot Noir, “one of Russian River Valleys best pinot noirs."
Cindy Daniel and Dough Lipton's SHED has been the talk of Healdsburg since its opening this past spring. It's a two-story foodie mecca, brightly lit and abuzz with local makers. Stop here for coffee and pastry, lunch, or a quick fix—their homemade shrubs are to die for. While you're there, browse the impeccable collection of kitchen and garden wares.
Located in the old Cyrus space, Chalkboard is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Chef Shane McAnelly's daily-changing menu sources ingredients from local purveyors and farms. Highlights from a recent menu included Snake River Farms beef tartare and ricotta gnudi with black truffle butter. Dessert was the real standout—the Candy Bar, with brownie, caramel, roasted milk chocolate cremeaux, nougat ice cream, and peanut crunch, was to die for.
The delightfully quirky Stasea Donohey knows her way around junk yards and estate sales. Her expertly curated shop of antique wares and curiosities will hook any design junkie. Don't leave without striking up a conversation with Donohey—it's the stories behind all of her finds that are most compelling.
If you find you've had a few too many tastings, check into a room at the LEED Gold-certified h2hotel, right off the square. The 36-room, boutique hotel sports a hip, modern design and art sourced from locals as well as commissioned work from Oakland's Swarm Gallery. They've got a 24-hour Receptobar in the lobby (ask for a Flying Goat Coffee while you check in) and water bars on each floor so you can fill up on your H20 (both sparkling and still) at no extra charge.