Top Wineries in Healdsburg
Although Healdsburg gained fame as a Sonoma County Wine Country destination more recently than the town of Sonoma, with their green plazas and preserved historic buildings the two towns have much in common today.
Once a farming and timber town, Healdsburg is a country cousin that has assumed an equal - some might say preeminent - reputation as the center of Sonoma County Wine Country.
Old timers still remember the days when fights that broke out in John & Zeke's bar spilled out on the sidewalk on Saturday nights. Today, visitors stroll along Healdsburg streets chock-a-block with wine lounges and boutiques.
Perhaps because the area's dining and accommodations are concentrated in this small, walkable town, wine tasting rooms have cropped up on just about every block. It's easy to stop by one or two on the way to dinner reservations, or to make a day trip entirely on foot, without anyone having to drive.
Healdsburg wine tasting rooms are located in three areas: Most are located around the Plaza and side streets; an eclectic cluster can be found by the Russian River near the steel truss Healdsburg Memorial Bridge; and there's more to explore on the industrial and residential West Side.
Around the Plaza
A few steps south of the Plaza, expansive, cool blue digs for the Pinot Noir specialists. Taste cool-climate Pinot Noir, producing both single-vineyard and AVA-level wines from growing regions spanning California.
Inside the 'Trust Winery Limited' you'll find Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Muscat Canelli made and grown by locals with long experience in the real work of making wine.
The trinity of Russian River Valley wines comes to Healdsburg in this light-filled corner tasting room with a view of the Plaza: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and old vine Zinfandel. Part of the Jackson Family Wines empire, Hartford is tucked away in a picturesque little valley-should the wine inspire a drive or bike ride.
Plaza Side Streets
At Latitude 38.62° N, Longitude -122.86° W., find Pinot Noir with freshness and transparency, and if you're lucky, dry Riesling - the grape that sent former public radio sound engineer Alan Baker on a winemaking journey - in this brightly styled tasting room on Center Street.
Explore the side streets around Healdsburg Plaza a little more and find Italian varietals at Portalupi; Chardonnay at Selby; surfer-themed tasting at Longboard; scrumptious small bites with big Cabernet at Williamson; and more.
By the River
There's more to winemaker Guy Davis' award-winning Pinot Noir, Zin, and more at this 'warehouse' winery overlooking the Russian River: you may find the Zazu gourmet food truck parked by a produce garden in full bloom.
Then, there are the co-ops, where guests don't even have to leave their comfortable seats to enjoy an array of magnificent small-production wines. Hudson Street Wineries is a hidden secret destination less than a mile southeast of the plaza, and is home to four tiny wineries crafting premium Sonoma County wines.
The West Side
Three sisters founded this sparkling wine brand in honor of their mother. Now popping corks in new digs constructed in 2016 from three shipping containers that are welded together, and most stylishly so, Breathless makes their sparkling North Coast brut, blanc de blancs, and other wines right next door in the area's largest custom sparkling wine facility, Rack & Riddle. Just a short walk from the Plaza, they've created a landscaped oasis in this industrial zone. Sip sparkling wine and dress up for Polaroid photos in this fun, welcoming lounge.
There's room for bocce courts and a picnic grove just a few blocks up Grove Street on the tree-shaded grounds of Seghesio.
Founded by an Italian-American family, this winery has a connection to the old Italian Swiss Colony winery that some visitors may remember from touring in the 1960s or from TV commercials: they planted some of the first Sangiovese, key grape of Chianti, in California. Italian whites, reds, and Zinfandel are tops here.
While visiting Healdsburg, stay in a hotel with a vineyard view!
Written by Sonoma Insider James Knight.