Tastemaker Weekend is Yet Another Delicious Reason to Visit Healdsburg
What is good taste, really? Does it begin, quite literally, with our palate, the ability to appreciate an exceptional risotto or exquisite cabernet sauvignon? Perhaps it comes from our eye, how we pause to appreciate a meadow of lavender waving just so while on a shared walk or bike ride? Maybe such aesthetic largess results from our hands, whether we’re sculpting clay, folding pastry dough or blending a Bordeaux? The Healdsburg Tastemaker Weekend invites each of us to determine our own flights of forged fancy, an opportunity to revel in local culinary talents, artist studios and several modes of outdoor recreation. Scheduled for January 24-26, all of Healdsburg turns out like a well-thrown bowl for this annual shared experience.
Most Tastemaker visitors meld local discovery with scheduled events. And oh, what events, beginning with (what else?) a coffee roasting workshop with Wolf Coffee. You can take wine blending classes over lunch, try your hand preparing Pâte á Choux pastry with the Costeaux head pastry chef (and champagne!) or craft hand-made tortillas (with margaritas!) for a lunch of slow-braised French Poulet and aromatic baked rice. There’s also high tea at The Jordan, cocktail classes and a “Wild Mushroom Foray” among many other culinary choices.
Naturally, the wine and spirit class schedule is equally enticing: Breathless Wines Tour with sabering, Vertical Tasting and Wine Cave Dinner with A. Rafanelli & Baci and the Relish Cooking with Winemakers Dinner. The quiet vineyard days of January often allow the winemakers to spend more time with tasting room visitors to answer questions concerning their craft and discuss anticipated vintages. Winter’s also a great time of year to get ahead on your wine club subscriptions to dazzle friends or collect a favorite varietal for your cellar.
Like heading to the best school ever, dorm life in Healdsburg is unparalleled, as over ten hoteliers throw open their doors with an astounding Tastemaker Weekend special: 50% off Saturday night when you book Friday night also. The lodging list looks a who’s who of exquisite design with an aesthetic to match every whimsy. The Two Thirty-Five Luxury Suites provide the perfect setting for housing a group of friends or extended family. Each of the suites comes with a gourmet kitchen, easy for practicing techniques learned during the weekend’s culinary workshops. The Duchamp Healdsburg also offers a limited number of exclusive suites, just six European-styled living spaces surrounding the signature 50’ pool and terrace.
Several inns add a rustic ambiance to your experience. The Belle de Jour Inn Cottages are perfect for nestling away over the weekend and starting adventurous days after breakfast in the 1873 Italianate farmhouse’s country kitchen. The Camellia Inn is steps from the Healdsburg Plaza, with evening wine hours housed in an 1869 Victorian that was built as the village’s first hospital. The recently renovated Dry Creek Inn captures the Tuscan villa-style with rooms that look over the inn's tiled plaza. The Haydon Street Inn sits just two blocks from the Plaza, a boutique property consisting of an intimate six rooms and Victorian cottage.
The h2hotel represents one of several modern accommodations located just off the historic Healdsburg Plaza. A Gold LEED-certified hotel, the 36-room property offers a perfect opportunity to decamp for the weekend without need of your car. The h2hotel’s sibling Harmon Guest House is a dazzling display of modern chic, a stunning sculpture made of reclaimed wood from San Francisco's famed Victorians and the best rooftop terrace around. Hotel Healdsburg takes modern to a different level, with gorgeous understated furnishings, a stunning secluded terrace and complimentary cruisers for a pedal around town. All three properties continue Healdsburg's legacy as an aesthetic, architectural and agricultural pioneer in Sonoma County.
As the name suggests, the Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza is centrally located, a quaint 1901 property rich with all the traditional amenities, think fresh breakfast and wine and cheese boards come evening. The Inn’s outstanding concierge will set you on the adventure of your choosing in or out of town. The sumptuously appointed Hotel Les Mars, sixteen rooms styled in four-poster beds and canopies, completes this special Tastemaker Weekend lodging ensemble.
Healdsburg lodging does present one challenge, leaving the enticing properties to venture out to the galleries, restaurants, and wineries that have established this locale among the premier leisure destinations in North America. Fortunately, each hotelier is happy to help with motivation, whether you wish to rent bicycles from Wine Country Bikes or Spoke Folk Cyclery for a ride along the Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve, pick up a kayak at River’s Edge Kayak for a paddle on the serpentine Russian River, or head out for a trail run after checking in at the Healdsburg Running Co. Remember to pause at Costeaux bakery to pick up something to nosh, as locals have done since 1923.
After a little adrenaline release, it's always a good idea to nourish up. True to its agricultural roots, Healdsburg's culinary bushel spills over with farm-to-table cuisine at Barndiva, Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen and Spoonbar, among others. Your Tastemaker class may inspire a trip to the Oakville Grocery or Big John’s Market (Don’t miss the cheese counter!) followed by a night cooking in as well, should you stay in one of the many local suites outfitted with gourmet kitchens.
However you choose to convey your newly found wisdom, be it in the kitchen or decanting a new favorite label, the Healdsburg Tastemaker Weekend suggests the importance of slowing down and appreciating the rich fodder that surrounds each of us. The information age is constantly inundating us with the best way to do this, to prepare that and to appreciate something else, yet it is in the doing ourselves that remains as unique an experience as we can find among the bustle and noise. From great hiking trails to Healdsburg continues to give us pause, a break we never fully appreciate until we arrive. Visit the Healdsburg Tastemaker Weekend website to start envisioning what youyear aesthetic break will look like.