13 Insider, Must-Visit Gems in Northern California Wine Country

[ 0 ] January 16, 2014 |
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Pairings from Michel-Schlumberger Winery/Melanie Warner

Planning a visit to California wine country? Travel journalist Melanie Warner recommends passing over the tourist-heavy favorites and instead opting for these off-the-beaten-path wineries in Sonoma County, California…

This blog is part of a series that is posted in its entirety on the Barclaycard Travel Community site, in partnership with genConnect. Click here to find out more about the 13 stops you MUST make when you visit this part of Sonoma County.

January is officially “Me” month. With all of the holiday hustle and bustle (a more polite phrase for “hell”) behind us, now we can focus on ourselves…and all of those New Year’s resolutions that we will actually stick to this year. What better way to spoil yourself than with a fast wine and dine getaway?

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California boasts many wineries and has even defined its own cuisine (“California Cuisine”) that makes for a memorable meal, along with many paring choices. I recently visited Healdsburg, Calif., often dwarfed by Napa and other Northern California wine regions. It’s a small town nestled between four regional wine appellations: The Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Chalk Hill. With over 100 wineries, tasting rooms, boutiques, and restaurants in a concentrated area, you could easily spend months here. I loved how small and personal most of the wineries were. These wines were not designed to be mass produced, so their unique business model is based solely on their wine club members and very rarely on retail. That means you probably have not heard of any of these wines – which is why I’m so excited to share them with you and inspire you to come and discover what makes this place so special.

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Fare from Jordan Wines/Melanie Warner

You will find some gems that are off the beaten path. Often times, the road less traveled yields the best new discoveries.

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Here are 13 must-visit wineries and other indulging stops that make Healdsburg worth the trip. This itinerary is aggressive with many wineries, so I suggest that you have a designated driver so that you can partake and be the designated drinker! I solemnly swear to never take you down the path of a bad meal, a wrong turn, a boring time, or a bum winery.

1) The quaint bed and breakfast, the Haydon Street Inn, is a charming & historic Victorian style home over 100 years old. It has 9 rooms each with private baths, plus a private guesthouse. King rooms have a Jacuzzi tub and fireplace. John Harasty (former chef of Churchill Downs) & Keren Colsten have been the proprietors for 7 years. John’s cooking skills are legendary, so I was excited to try his creations. They truly put the ‘bed and breakfast’ into bed and breakfast with the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in lately (I even stripped the sheets to see the label on the mattress and pillows).

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Melanie Warner

2) My next stop was West Wines. My new BFF is the 2005 WEST Cabernet Reserve -selected as the first American wine ever to be served at the 2010 Noble Peace Prize awards banquet in Stockholm to 1,200 people. That means it’s guaranteed to make you smarter!

This blog is part of a series that is posted in its entirety on the Barclaycard Travel Community site, in partnership with genConnect. Click here to find out more about the 13 stops you MUST make when you visit this part of Sonoma County.

Follow Melanie Warner, aka “Wander Woman” and her travels on Facebook at MelanieWarner777

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Category: Food & Wine, Lifestyle, Travel, Views on the News

Melanie Warner

About Melanie Warner: Melanie Warner (aka Wander Woman) has served as the founder, publisher and editor of magazines and newspapers over the last 20 years - including: The Hollywood Monthly Magazine, The City Guide, Inside Clovis, Inside Fresno, [...]
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