From Apple Butter to Zinfandel: A Harvest-time Getaway to Healdsburg and the Russian River


Cutesy Healdsburg might be, but get a block or two off the plaza and the tourist trappings fall away, revealing a hard-working Sonoma valley town where viticulture is taken seriously, and has been for many generations.No matter which road you take out of town, you'll stop umpteen times for snaps. The Alexander Valley boasts the Jimtown Store, everyone's favorite haute-roadhouse lunch stop, and the best bike route. Dry Creek Valley has some of my favorite wineries, including Preston, where the picnic area features bocce ball courts and a wood-fired oven turning out hot loaves of homemade sourdough bread. After dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen and breakfast on the inn's sunny terrace, you'll be wondering if Sonoma residents ever eat anything that's not phenomenally fresh.Head south along River Road and you can taste sparkling wine from Korbel, and consider whether it's as good as the French version from the Champagne region whose name Californian bubblies are not allowed to use. Or stop being grown-up for a while and join the kids paddling in the river. Whether you'd rather kayak, canoe, or float downstream in an inner tube, the Russian River is the quintessential lazy river, with sandy beaches, cool green water and plenty of deep swimming holes to choose from.Though a short distance away from the river, the Farmhouse Inn is worth the drive for the rustic elegance of its atmosphere, sort of a cross between English manor house and Tuscan villa. The food is anything but rustic, though; San Franciscan foodies make the drive just for Chef Steve Litke's savory creations, which make the most of local ingredients like goat cheese handcrafted at an organic dairy just down the road. On the way home, be sure to stop at Mom's Apple Pies and pick up one made from gravensteins so fresh they were probably picked that morning in the orchard behind the bakery. Take home a slice of Sonoma graciousness to start the week off easy.

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Author: Melanie Haiken

Day 1 - Healdsburg


The Raford Inn of Healdsburg


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10630 Wohler Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Day 3 - Sonoma


Korbel Champagne Cellars


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13250 River Road
Sonoma County
Sonoma, CA 95471


+1 707 824 7000

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