Mother’s Day comes but once a year, so why not make it really special, and extend the celebration into a three-day Sonoma County excursion? Of course, this slow-paced California wine country itinerary is great for any time of the year (not just on Mother's Day). And here’s a tip: Treating Mom to a Sonoma County getaway is as much a gift to yourself as it is to her. Besides the quality time together, it’s a mini vacation for you, too. For special events on Mother's Day 2015 take a look at Things to Do on Mother's Day.
Getaway with Mom 3-Day Itinerary
At last count, Healdsburg was home to nearly 100 restaurants, ranging from haute (Barndiva) to hamburgers (Healdsburger). Add to that dozens of tasting rooms, assorted cocktail lounges, and a rich collection of artisan bakeries, cheese shops, confectioners and such, and it’s clear this is foodie heaven.
So begin with a good, hearty New Orleans-theme breakfast at The Parish (60 Mill St., Healdsburg). There are only about four dozen seats inside and on the porch/patio, playing to full crowds most days, so expect a bit of a wait. But it’s worth it, for chef-owner Rob Lippincott’s po’ boys, muffalettas, spicy shrimp grits with Creole tomato sauce, and light-as-air beignets that are divine with a cafe au lait.
To walk it off, shopping at antique and thrift shops is a true treasure hunt, browsing among the gems waiting to be discovered all up and down Healdsburg Avenue. Be sure to venture further up the block, too, nearly at the end of town, for Healdsburg Vintage (452 Healdsburg Ave.). This stocked-to-the rafters emporium is a favorite of many of the Bay Area’s top home designers.
Now it’s time to check into Raford Inn (10630 Wohler Rd., Healdsburg), a beautiful Queen Anne Victorian mansion built in 1880 and located on four acres amid Russian River Valley vineyards in a quiet residential area.
It’s truly off the beaten path, and Mom will love the coziness of just five beautifully decorated guest rooms with private baths. You can also relax in the sunroom, or on wicker chairs on the wrap around veranda overlooking the gardens and grapes.
You’ll want to skip lunch, since the 2:30 p.m. experience with the new Savor Healdsburg Food Tours (advance reservations are required: 800-979-3370) offers a culinary walking tour featuring plenty of eating and drinking, along with more good old-fashioned sightseeing.
Owner Tammy Gass leads a three-hour jaunt through downtown with six restaurants and tasting rooms each offering a selection of bites paired with drinks. That can mean big names like chef Mark Stark’s Bravas Bar de Tapas (recently recognized by Travel and Leisure magazine as one of the top 100 tapas restaurants in the U.S.), but also more off-the-radar local favorites like The Wurst, for burgers, brauts, shakes, malts, and more from former MC5 rock band bass player Charles Bell.
Afterwards, be sure to browse the lovely clothing and home accessory boutiques all around Healdsburg Plaza. There are also lots of art galleries to explore, too, including The Hand Fan Museum (219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg). As the only one of its kind in America, the museum is a jewel box-small shrine to some of the most breathtaking and historically significant fans in the world.
By now, you’ll want lovely rest at your B&B, enhanced with the complimentary evening wine reception showcasing local wines and hors d’oeuvres.
Wrap up the evening with dinner at the favorite place you discovered on the Savor Healdsburg preview tour.
Day Two: Cloverdale: Fresh Foods, Cooking Demonstrations, and Relaxation
Rise and shine with complimentary breakfast in the Raford Inn dining room (if you stayed here last night), tempting with specialties like stuffed French toast soufflé or artichoke frittata, enhanced with herbs and vegetables from the estate garden. Just don’t eat too much, since your next stop is a bonding and baking frolic at Relish Culinary Adventures (14 Matheson St., Healdsburg).
This is a “roving” program that brings together talented chefs and top cuisine at a variety of captivating Wine Country locations, for one-of-a-kind hands-on and demonstration cooking experiences. Classes feature seasonal, locally-grown, locally-produced ingredients, including olive oil, artisan cheeses, north coast seafood, farm fresh produce, locally ranched meats, premium wines, handcrafted beers, and much more.
One of the most popular adventures is the Saturday Farmer’s Market-to-Pizza Workshop with Relish owner Donna del Rey.
You and Mom can live like a local as you meet the purveyors at the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market, taste, learn about their products, and select your own ingredients for gourmet pizza.
Because next, you’ll return to the Relish Culinary Center for a hands-on pizza making workshop, stretching and throwing your own dough and topping pies with the just-gathered ingredients, such as local sausage, seasonal veggies and artisan cheeses. The feast also includes seasonal salad, dessert, and local wines.
For the next bit of fun, pack up and head to Cloverdale, which is fast developing into a charming arts town that still remains a local secret. Rejuvenate with coffee at Plank (227 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale).
Owners Mike Morisette and Marne Dupere serve fresh roasted Flying Goat Coffee beans and house-made chai, alongside pastries and cupcakes from My Flour Girl, baked daily on-site from the original Flour Girl, Shannon Moore of Healdsburg (try the vegan and gluten-free treats like vegan orange cake and vegan Mexican chocolate cake).
Next, head over and check into Kelley & Young Wine Garden Inn (302 N. Main St., Cloverdale). The charming 1901 Queen Anne Victorian retreat is nostalgic in chintz, wood, breathtaking gardens, and historic accents, but replete with modern amenities like featherbeds, private baths with claw foot tubs, and free Wi-Fi.
Or, might want to stay at the quaint, ranch-style Old Crocker Inn set on five acres, the Wine Country-chic Auberge on the Vineyard, or the cozy Best Western Cloverdale Inn set right in the heart of town.
Note that many hotels and B&Bs in Sonoma County offer passports for free tastings at area wineries, so you and Mom can spend an entire day just sipping, if you like.
And be sure to include Vino di Amore (105 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale) in your stops — it’s just steps from Vintage Towers, and beckons as a charming Tuscan-motif salon, where local artists display their works in the main room, in the hallways leading to the back patio, and in a private tasting room set with a faux fireplace. This is a great place to try some uncommon grapes like Sangiovese, Carignane, and a tawny Port.
After wandering downtown Cloverdale — The Towers Gallery (240 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale) should not be missed, as a co-op of 45 artists working in every media imaginable — rev your appetite for a filling meal at Hamburger Ranch & Pasta Farm (31195 N. Redwood Hwy., Cloverdale). This classic Americana roadhouse will remind the both of you of mom’s cooking, from homemade chili, patty melts, and meatloaf, plus specialties like wood-fire smoked barbecue brisket and baby back ribs.
Mom deserves flowers on her special day. So after breakfast, take her on a road trip to some of the Russian River Valley’s most artful winery gardens. Sonoma County’s Wine Road map offers a terrific starting point for mapping out the greenery.
Start by presenting Mom with a rose, found at the Russian River Rose Co. (1685 Magnolia Dr., Healdsburg), where the collection includes more than 600 varieties, ranging from ancient strains to modern hybrids.
Now, head toward western Sonoma County, on a scenic drive.
With its Asian-inspired architecture and lavish Japanese gardens, Arista Winery (7015 Westside Road, Healdsburg) is a tucked-away jewel where the landscape was designed by renowned Japanese landscape architect Harry Sumigawa in a small, serene labyrinth of waterfalls, streams, and ponds in and around the natural Phyllite rock formations framed by ferns, flowers, blooming trees, and bamboo.
You and Mom can sip wine beneath a patinated copper-top pagoda shade, while admiring Japanese maples stretching their lacy leaves in a canopy of red, ocher, and green.
Ferrari-Carano (8761 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg) on Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg is another must, as a park-style garden spanning five acres, and brilliant with more than 2,000 species of trees and shrubs, plus bridges, ponds dotted with lilies, and sculptures such as a life size bronze of a young girl dancing with a dove.
At the heart is a full-acre of flowers designed by winery owner Rhonda Carano after the Butchart Gardens in British Columbia.
Champagne is another Mother’s Day must-have, and Korbel Winery (13250 River Rd., Guerneville) has you covered, with its Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines.
This legendary winery features in-depth tours of its historic champagne cellars and the elaborate rose garden, ending, of course, with a tasting.
This is also where you can get lunch at the Korbel Delicatessen and Market, with its patio seating amid the redwoods. Gourmet sandwiches celebrate Sonoma County flavors with artisan cheeses, local produce, and meats like elegant prosciutto or juicy tri-tip.
Finally, toast Mom with another glass of champagne, and look forward to doing it all again when Mother’s Day rolls around next year or for a getway any time of the year.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet