by Lazelle Jones
Sonoma County is the cradle of the California Republic. Here in June of 1846, in what during the Spanish and Mexican rule was called Alta California, a formal declaration of independence from Mexico was made.
Like the Republic of Texas, California became a nation/state but unlike Texas, California would be an independent republic for only 25 days (that’s right, 25 days) because immediately following its declaration of independence the onset of the Mexican/American War brought it under the protection of a US Military where it would remain so until 1850 when it became the 31st State in the Union.
And as they say, “the rest is history.” Thirty miles north of where the call for independence went up 165 years ago, the town of Healdsburg sits nestled in among the rolling bucolic hills and delightful valleys where three valleys (the Russian, Dry Creek and Alexander) come together.
Today this quaint, early California setting is the gateway to one of the most beautiful and off the beaten path destinations on the planet.
Lodgings here read like who’s-who in quaint but elegant B&B’s and rustic but state-of-the-art boutique hotels. The options are many with places like Honor Mansion www.honormansion.com and Haydon St. Inn www.haydon.com leading the list of upscale B&B’s; and h2hotel www.h2hotel.com and Hotel Healdsburg www.hotelhealdsburg.com representing the unique trendy style that boutique hotels are supposed to offer.
And for those who seek more reasonably priced but well attended to accommodations, the Best Western Plus Dry Creek Inn www.drycreekinn.com will not disappoint. Their Tuscan courtyards and public areas transport your mind and spirit to none other than Tuscany itself.
Explore at your leisure the culinary world in Healdsburg for 5-star dining is found round every corner. The choices are legion with bistros like Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar www.zinrestaurant.com ; Spoonbar www.spoonbar.com; Costeaux French Bakery www.costeaux.com and Dry Creek Kitchen www.charliepalmer.com/dry-creek-kitchen/ being among the best.
For those seeking a totally new adventure in the world of culinary arts, a morning or afternoon spent taking a culinary arts class at Relish Culinary Adventures www.relishculinary.com will not disappoint. A culinary institute with a strong local, regional and international presence, adventures such as their Mushroom Foray will take you out in the surrounding oak forests where you’re taught the fundamentals of foraging for edible wild mushrooms, harvesting them, followed by a cooking class where you learn how best to prepare your harvest and then lunch where the dishes prepare are enjoyed. Sweet!
There are many dimensions to Healdsburg and the surrounding nooks and crannies that include the arts, antiques and much more. For example Bob Johnson Art Gallery www.behance.net/9trebor9 features themes reflecting the surrounding wine country. Nearby at Dry Creek Peach & Produce in Dry Creek Canyon www.drycreekpeach.com dozens of peach varieties are grown on this 900 acre farm and where between May and September their bounty is offered at their roadside produce stand.
Suffice it to say, “Northern Sonoma County is wine country”, where spectacular Cabs, Merlots, Petite Sirah, Zinfindel, Pinot Noir, Malbecs, Chards and other award winning red and white varietals gracefully emerge from the perfect soils that make viticulture such a perfect fit.
Vineyards carpet the low mountainsides where the influence of the cool coastal breezes that transport the much needed fog inland is felt, an element absolutely essential in the growing of the Pinot Noir grape. Two such vineyards and wineries are Lambert Bridge Winery www.lambertbridge.com and Trattore Estate Wines www.trattorewines.com.
Both are boutique wineries which means they bottle between 2000 and 50000 cases of wine each year, with much of their production consumed by their passionate wine club members, and yes both have tasting rooms in settings that are as appealing as their wines are excellent.
There is another dimension that has recently emerged in Dry Creek Valley. It’s called Dry Creek Olive Oil Company where the finest California Extra Virgin Olive Oil www.drycreekolivecompany.com is made and offered in their olive oil tasting room on Dry Creek Canyon Road. Join one of their orchard tours and take a peek at the olive trees planted by the Spanish more than 200 years ago. It is pure ethereal!