Haute in Healdsburg

Haven’t heard of Healdsburg? It’s the tiny California town that’s big on bold wines, farm-to-table cuisine and a luxury resort that’s the perfect base for enjoying it all

It’s barely 10 a.m. and a casual-cool crowd at the Montage Healdsburg resort is already parked in front of flickering firepits, languidly swirling glasses of wine starring vibrant hues of garnet or golden-white. “It’s called the ‘wine country breakfast,’” quips our driver as he whisks us away to our first tasting of the day.

While Napa Valley and Sonoma usually dominate travelers’ wine vacations, the lesser-talked-about city of Healdsburg is gaining attention for its small-town charm, creative culinary scene and fine wine that flows from more than 160 wineries. Roughly a 90-minute drive from San Francisco and one hour from Napa, the tiny town flaunts the unique position of being surrounded by three covetable wine regions: the Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley.

Part of Healdsburg’s recent buzz is centered around the Montage Healdsburg, the area’s popular luxury resort that, like a leggy, full-bodied wine, stretches over 258 acres. Enveloped by centuries-old oak trees and rolling vineyards, staying here means retreating to freestanding bungalow-style rooms and suites that resemble high-design tree houses and are sprinkled around the property for ultimate privacy. Suites feature terraces fitted with firepits, ideal for drinking in the serene surroundings while sipping a Bordeaux-style blend from nearby Aperture Cellars—Aperture’s young winemaker Jesse Katz also oversees the Montage’s 15.5 acres of vineyards—and amenities like airy outdoor showers and indoor soaking tubs that are a welcome respite after a day of imbibing.

From the seasonal, locally sourced cuisine at Hazel Hill restaurant, which transforms into a fairy-tale setting in the evenings with trees aglow in twinkling lights, to activities like barefoot yoga set among the vines, where you’ll feel the earth’s energy as you breathe and bend, the resort pays homage to the land. Even pampering treatments at Spa Montage tout local products, particularly the Sonoma Blend Massage, which involves a relaxing rubdown with extra-virgin olive oil from a nearby farm.

The Montage is the perfect base for exploring Healdsburg’s adorable downtown dotted with eclectic shops, must-try restaurants from Barndiva to The Matheson and unique experiences like The Harris Gallery, which is a father-and-son-owned art gallery that doubles as a tasting room. Don’t miss tastings at Jordan Vineyard & Winery, where you’ll meander through the French-style chateau to hear about its 50-year history and end with a food and wine pairing in their elegant library. Journey to the dreamy setting of Medlock Ames Winery at Bell Mountain Ranch for organically farmed wine coupled with local cheeses, and Comstock Wines stands out for their chef-driven pairings, particularly their drool-inducing grilled-cheese flight.

As your time comes to an end, Healdsburg will leave you wistful for a large plot of land and mornings that begin with a glass—or two—of wine.