This Is Sonoma County’s Most Charming Town, According to Condé Nast Traveler

Healdsburg Plaza in downtown Healdsburg

Healdsburg continues its streak as one of the hottest destinations in Wine Country. In a recently published article, luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler (CNT) called it “Sonoma County’s most charming town” and listed the best places to eat, stay and play during a visit.

“Despite several splashy restaurant and hotel openings in the past year, (Healdsburg) maintains a breezy vibe that makes for relaxed weekends in Wine Country,” said Janet O’Grady, the author of the article, who also noted that Healdsburg is “more rustic than its glitzy neighbor Napa Valley.”

Read on to see the best places to eat and play in Healdsburg, according to Condé Nast Traveler.

Lioco Wine Company

Lioco Wine Company
Lioco Wine Company

This downtown tasting room on 125 Matheson Street opened in 2018. Condé Nast Traveler likes it for its “choice of wine flights in a casual, bar-like setting.”

Interior of Lioco Wine Company's tasting room
Interior of Lioco Wine Company’s tasting room 

Operated by husband-and-wife duo Matt and Sara Licklider, Lioco is housed in a sleek 1,300-square-foot space. Lioco wines, which draw fruit from vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino and Santa Cruz counties, are produced in a Santa Rosa winemaking cooperative.

Ciao Bruto

Ciao Bruto founders, left to right, Courtney Humiston, Sam Bilbro and Thomas DeBaise
Ciao Bruto founders, left to right, Courtney Humiston, Sam Bilbro and Thomas DeBaise

This recently opened Italian wine and specialty food shop was featured in the Condé Nast Traveler article. Opened just off the plaza in late May, it spotlights organic and biodynamic wines from northern Italy’s Piedmont region. The shop also offers artisanal Italian specialty products, such as pasta, tinned seafood, and condiments. 

Marine Layer Wines

Marine Layer Wines
Marine Layer Wines – Photo by Gretchen Gause

One of the most exciting tasting room openings in 2021, Marine Layer Wines offers five-wine flights and mezze plates from newly opened Little Saint. The winery, founded by Baron Ziegler and winemaker Rob Fischer (who also founded Banshee Wines), produces chardonnays and pinot noirs from cool-climate Sonoma Coast vineyards. 

The Drink

The Drink in Healdsburg
The Drink 

The Drink in Healdsburg is a sweet spot where coffee and natural wine come together. Monday through Saturday, you can order an espresso or iced latte from the coffee cart and book tastings with one of two local wine labels, Rootdown Cellars and Leo Steen Wines

Aperture Cellars

Aperture Cellars in Healdsburg
Aperture Cellars 

When in Healdsburg, visit Aperture Cellars, recommends Condé Nast Traveler. Winemaker Jesse Katz’s avant-garde production facility south of Healdsburg also serves as a tasting room for his two brands: Devil Proof for malbec and Aperture Cellars for Bordeaux-variety wines. Visitors can also view photographs by Katz’s professional photographer father, Andy.

Jess Katz (center), Aperture Cellars' winemaker, at the Carnivale du Vin in New Orleans
Jess Katz (center), Aperture Cellars’ winemaker, at the Carnivale du Vin in New Orleans 

Winemaker Jesse Katz of Aperture Cellars and Devil Proof produced a six-liter bottle of The Setting Wines 2019 Glass Slipper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which sold for $1 million in September 2021

Book a tour

Bohemian Highway Travel Company
Bohemian Highway Travel Company

“To discover small-batch or boutique wineries not usually open to the public, book a bespoke tour with Bohemian Highway Travel Company, or tour wine country in a chauffeured Tesla with North Bay Wine Tours,” recommends Condé Nast Traveler. You could also kayak on the Russian River with Getaway Adventures or cycle through Sonoma with Duvine, says the magazine. 

Little Saint

A spread of mezze at Little Saint - Photo by Emma K. Morris
A spread of mezze at Little Saint – Photo by Emma K. Morris

Little Saint, the highly anticipated plant-based restaurant from the owners of three-Michelin-starred SingleThread, was also mentioned in the Condé Nast Traveler article. “Even meat-eaters will love the flavors here, as well as the more affordable prices when compared to SingleThread,” said Janet O’Grady, the author of the article. 

The Matheson

The Matheson — Photo by Deb Wilson
The Matheson — Photo by Deb Wilson

Another hot Healdsburg newcomer to be included in the Condé Nast Traveler article, The Matheson opened in September 2021. Chef Dustin Valette’s 231-seat, three-level restaurant complex includes an 88-tap wine wall, an upscale, farm-to-table restaurant and sushi bar (The Matheson) and the more casual Roof 106 with craft cocktails, small plates and seasonal flatbreads from a custom wood-fired Mugnaini oven. 

Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar

Grande Seafood Platter at Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar
Grande Seafood Platter at Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar

This downtown favorite from Mark and Terri Stark got a nod from Condé Nast Traveler for “creative small plates like barbecued Tomales Bay oysters and crispy tacos with crab.” The Starks also own Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg, and five other Sonoma County restaurants.


Melissa Yanc and Sean McGaughey of Quail & Condor and Troubador - Photo by Emma K. Morris
Melissa Yanc and Sean McGaughey of Quail & Condor and Troubador – Photo by Emma K. Morris

Melissa Yanc and Sean McGaughey of Quail & Condor bakery opened Troubadour sandwich shop in Healdsburg in January 2022. The couple previously worked at SingleThread restaurant. 

Healdsburg’s The Madrona hotel (reopened in April 2022) was also recommended by Condé Nast Traveler.

Written by Sonoma Magazine Staff

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