Think of Sonoma Valley as Napa’s quieter cousin. Fewer wineries exist in the area, and many of them are small and family owned. The slower pace does not reduce the level of luxury available to wine-loving travelers, however.
Stay at Hotel Healdsburg
Owned by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, this chic hotel in Healdsburg’s main square has 55 guest rooms and suites, all complete with Tibetan carpets and dark, pecan-wood floors, plus feather beds and Frette linens. Ask for a junior suite to enjoy a view of Healdsburg and the Sonoma countryside during your stay. When booking your room, make reservations for Chef Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, as the restaurant’s Progressive American menu proves wildly popular with both locals and tourists alike. To truly indulge, order Dry Creek Kitchen’s renowned, six-course tasting menu paired with Sonoma Valley wines. For more information, visit www.hotelhealdsburg.com.
Eat at Cyrus
This restaurant at the Hotel Le Mars, also in Healdsburg, holds two Michelin stars thanks to chef Douglas Keane. His cuisine — available from tasting, five-course and eight-course menus — features such dishes as Seared Beef Cheek with Green and Black Garlic, Lotus Root and Natural Jelly for omnivores and “Pasta Fagioli” with Arugula and Red Wine Reduction for vegetarians. Be sure to sample offerings from the caviar and cheese carts as they make their way around the luxurious dining room. The wine list numbers 56 pages, and the restaurant’s wine director will be more than happy to offer his advice. Make this your next call after booking at the Hotel Healdsburg because only reservations will get you a table. Visit www.cyrusrestaurant.com for complete details.
Winery hop with Beau Wine Tours
Your chauffeur/guide will pick you up at 10 a.m. in a limousine with chilled champagne waiting inside. You can choose four or five wineries to stop at for tastings and tours (the number depends on their locations). Options include Buena Vista Winery, California’s first premium winery, and DeLoach Vineyards, a certified organic estate dedicated to traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques. A gourmet picnic lunch at one of the vineyards is a highlight of the tour. Check out www.beauwinetours.com for more.
Relax at Osmosis Day Spa
Treat yourself to the Cedar Enzyme Bath & Wrap at this day spa in Freestone. The 90-minute treatment starts in a Japanese tea garden, where you'll enjoy an organic herbal tea blended to complement the metabolic processes that will occur during the bath. The bath itself involves a wooden tub filled with a fragrant blend of finely ground cedar, rice bran and plant enzymes. After no more than 20 minutes in the enzyme bath, you'll emerge to shower and relax in a resting room or enjoy other spa services. The enzyme bath can help boost metabolism and promote radiant skin, among many other health benefits. Go to www.osmosis.com to plan your visit.
Trips to the Sonoma area typically revolve around California wine and cuisine, but be sure to check out other local attractions as well. Art galleries, boutiques and nature preserves abound in the valley.