Healdsburg is a lovely city and wine country about 2 hours north of San Francisco. Once you exit the city of San Francisco, it is a pretty easy drive up 101 freeway. On the way, it is nice to stop in at some wineries to taste what they are currently pouring and have lunch. On this particular trip we headed to Siduri Wines first, because we wanted to taste some of their newest vintages. We have been buying Siduri for years and to our surprise they now have a wine club, which is a selection of the wine makers favorite bottles in two shipments during the year.
After Siduri we desperately needed some lunch, Russian River Vineyards has a lovely outdoor restaurant called Corks Restaurant which serves farm to table food in a beautiful setting. I was in the mood for something spicy, so I went with the Mini Chicken Tostadas. The tostadas were served slightly chilled which was a nice touch on a hot summer day. The crunchy salad on top with a hint of lime added great flavor.
The hamburger hit the spot for my husband with fresh Angus Beef, sharp cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms. The meat was tender and juicy and the burger cooked perfectly.
After lunch we stopped in to Twomey Cellars which we heard was pouring some great Merlot. The winery is owned and operated by the Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey is the place they showcase their expertise with Pinot Noir and Merlot.
Our next stop was our Inn in Healdsburg, Bella Villa Messina. The inn has been owned and operated by the same nice couple for years and the villa decor dates back to the 90’s with large dark furnishings and antiques. The innkeepers couldn’t be nicer with offerings of fresh cheeses and wines in the evenings and breakfast in the morning.
That evening we dined at Barndiva in Healdsburg. The chef previously worked for The French Laundry in Yountville and she didn’t miss a beat. We ordered a glass of Chablis to start and fresh bread arrived with churned butter.
We started with the Lobster Risotto with creme fraiche foam and mini potato chips on top. This dish of risotto was so refined and perfectly made with a nice lobster stock. The risotto had a softness from the combination of creme fraiche, rice and chunks of sweet meat.
Crispy Pork Belly with asparagus fritto misto and hen egg gribeche was nicely done too.
Alaskan Halibut Bouillabaisse in a tomato basil broth with mussels, house chorizo and potato was more than delightful. The halibut nicely seared in a lightly spiced broth with melt in your mouth chorizo. Love, love, love this dish.
The only disappointing part about Barndiva is that the service does not match the food. Our waiter was slow and distracted and the other servers were covering for him – this shouldn’t be happening here.
After a good nights sleep, we headed out for a full day of wine tasting. We started with one of our favorites Amapola Creek in Sonoma. Richard Arrowood, former winemaker at Arrowood Winery, has been making wine under his new label for several years now and he doesn’t disappoint. We spent several hours tasting and talking with his daughter, Carry who runs the sales and marketing.
Our next stop was Ridge Vineyards in Dry Creek, just above Healdsburg. The setting was beautiful and the wines are nicely done. They are famous for the Zinfandel which is widely distributed.
Unti Vineyards just down the road is another favorite of ours which makes some great Syrahs and Italian varietals. They have a new tasting room and it is a great place to stop!
After a little cheese at our Inn we headed to dinner at Bravas Bar De Tapas. The outdoor space is casual with low hanging lights and umbrella tables. For drinks we ordered a bottle of Cuvee de O from Galacia and brought our partially drunk bottle of Amapola Creek Cab to pair with the food.
To start, we order the Braised Oxtail and Fennel Slaw Tostada and Tomato Watermelon Salad. The oxtail was tender and flavored by Rioja wine it was braised in and the fennel slaw was caramelized and placed on the bottom of the tostada. The watermelon salad was refreshingly amazing with a little bite from the Sherry vinegar.
Pan Tomate or Toast rubbed with olive oil, garlic and freshly sliced tomatoes paired nicely with the Jamon Iberico. The freshly cured meat was hearty and tasted earthy.
The Cider Braised and Batter Dipped Chorizo Bites with Padron Peppers were fun to taste along with our Fried Duck Egg and Chorizo Cracklins. The waiter suggested to combine the two for an additional treat.
The long cooked Pork Cheeks with Salsa Verde and the Patatas Bravas took us over the edge full, but well worth it.
The food at Bravas was fun and delicious and with such a large menu, we will definitely be back for more. Healdsburg is a great place to visit for the beauty, food and of course, the wine. There are hundreds of wineries to taste at and the shopping and dining in Healdsburg square can’t be beat.