Downtown Healdsburg has turned into a foodie’s haven. Critically-acclaimed restaurants with top chefs are found, often, right next door to each other. So how does one choose? Sometimes it’s a matter of booking your table for two months in advance. Other times it means settling for an awkward 5pm or 9:15pm dinner rez. And, yet, my favorite maintains the secret third option: walking in to the least crowded restaurant when your stomach tells you it’s time to eat. Welcome to Cafe Lucia.
On my most recent trip to Sonoma, I popped by the highly recommended Mounts Winery. A tiny little shack hidden in the hills of Dry Creek, this is the kind of winemaker one-on-one experience I crave every time I visit a winery. Admittedly, his wife Lana is usually behind the tasting table, but I came on a day when winemaker and third-generation vineyard owner, David Mounts, was able to host my small little group through a tasting of current releases himself.
I love wondering around downtown Healdsburg — wonderful people, beautiful scenery, and you’ll never go hungry and definitely not thirsty. Sure, those of you who stomp the Sonoma grounds often may have your favorite Healdsburg haunts. But I say half the fun is walking into a place you have no idea what it is and giving it a go. That’s how I found The Gallery Bar & Bistro.
Carneros, known predominantly for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay production, bridges the Sonoma-Napa County border. It’s the Napa side that I have a hard time with. With some of the region’s coolest climates the Pinot Noir here seems to be harsher, tighter, spicier — whereas I tend to favor my full-bodied, fruit-forward Russian River Pinots. But when it comes to Chardonnay, I like a bit more life, intrigue, rusticity, flavor. That same Carneros cooling effect gives the Chardonnays from the region just that: a marked acidity, minerality, and earthiness that shines right through — from stem to stemware.
I was so excited when I opened my delivery from Clos Pegase and saw this single vineyard estate Sauvignon Blanc. I’ve recently gained more appreciation for the poor stereotyped grape, often overlooked as “that tropical, fruity” varietal. But remember the wine will only be as good as what the land can provide, and it is up to the winemaker to showcase the beauty of that fruit. Clos Pegase 2016 Mitsuko’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is a true testament to what good grapes in the right hands can do.