Here it is! My first travel post since February! Travel definitely looks different in this Covid-19 world. While I think that everyone should certainly be mindful of what they are comfortable with, Pete and I were ready to get out of town – safely. Today I am sharing my exact itinerary for our trip to the Sonoma Wine Country and all of our recommendations. Plus, my honest opinion on the flights, airports and how safe we felt.
I want to start this blog post with a huge thank you to the amazing folks at Jordan Winery. Not only did they invite me on this trip to experience their incredible winery, they also set up the entire itinerary so that we could get a sampling of what Sonoma County is like right now. Shout out to Lisa and Kendall! As of the time of this writing, California has gone back to stricter guidelines in an effort to help slow the pandemic. That being said, outdoor tastings at wineries are still allowed. Indoor dining is not; however many restaurants have already implemented outdoor seating and to-go service. As with any trip that you plan during these difficult times, check and re-check all of your reservations. Also know that the restrictions you will be following are the ones from the state/country you are visiting.
I am incorporating answers to general travel questions I got in this segment. All wine tastings require reservations in advance. Social distancing and face masks are required EVERYWHERE. You are not allowed to take off your face mask until you are seated at your table. If you need to visit the restroom, you must put your face mask back on. Tables are 6 feet apart. The most people that were seated in any wine tasting we attended was 12 and the tables were far apart. In fact, at one winery, we were the only two people there. You can purchase any wine from a winery by becoming a member of their wine club. They will be happy to ship you their wine. The upside to wine tastings now is that wineries are offering much more food. We enjoyed picnic lunches, full service lunches and delectable charcuterie boards. In fact, we prefer the outdoor wine tasting experience. You are overlooking the vineyards in the beautiful California sunshine. Who needs to look at a wine barrel room?
The Jordan Winery experience was so special that I am writing a separate blog post dedicated to them. It will publish next week so please check back. You don’t want to miss those details!
July 2020 Sonoma Wine Tasting Itinerary
We took the non-stop flight from DFW airport to Santa Rosa (Sonoma County) on American Airlines. I think if it is possible, take a non-stop flight to avoid the amount of people you come in contact with during travel. This flight is so easy! American Airlines utilizes a regional jet for this flight. Face masks are required at airports and on the plane for the entire journey. It only took us about 5 minutes to get through TSA security line. Even though we are TSA pre-check, the regular line also moved as quickly.
Everyone was friendly, didn’t crowd the gates and the mood is generally one of ‘we all want to stay safe’. The flight departs at 11:48 AM and gets you into Santa Rosa by 1:36 PM. American Airlines upgraded us to first class which meant extra room. There is no meal service or snacks at this time so be sure to eat before you leave for the airport and bring your own snacks. Very few shops and restaurants are open in the airport. We wore the N-95 (8511) masks in the airports and on the plane. Pete says this is the safest option when in crowds, especially indoors. FYI – Our flight was about half full and the plane was very clean.
Pete and I use Alto to get to DFW airport. They too are operating safely and requiring face masks. We rented a car at Santa Rosa airport by clicking here. An added benefit to having a rental car is that you can take your face mask off while driving!
Picnic Lunch at Lambert Bridge
We drove straight to Lambert Bridge Winery for our picnic lunch and tasting. Our reservations were at 2:30 PM. This was an excellent winery to start with and the property is beautiful. You check in, receive your picnic basket and wine and head out to the tables spaced far apart on the lawn. Bill Smart, Vice President and General Manager sat with us and went over the wines with us. He’s an absolute delight! Address: 4085 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448. 707.433.3215
Harmon Guest House | Healdsburg
We checked in to Harmon Guest House near the town square of Healdsburg. This property is only two years old and ideally situated for walking around town. Address: 227 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448. 707-431-8220
We enjoyed cocktails at Harmon House Rooftop as well as a full breakfast (included) each morning. The property is modern and minimalist. They have taken extra precautions during Covid-19 like making sure that your room is cleaned and sanitized at least 24 hours before you check-in. Harmon Guest House also does not allow maid service during your stay unless you request it. Again, this goes back to less people coming in contact with you and your things. All staff members wear masks at all times.
Delicious drinks at the Roof Top Bar at Harmon Guest House
We enjoyed a full complimentary breakfast each morning. All tables were outside and far apart.
Dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen | Healdsburg
This was our first dinner and it was amazing! General Manager Dan Prentice was so entertaining and picked out all of our wine pairings. The food is delicious and the Chef who used to work at Charlie Palmer’s in Dallas came out to visit with us too. We highly recommend Dry Creek Kitchen! Address: 317 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448. 707.431.0330
Wine Tasting and Mezze Platter Lunch at Comstock Wines
We were the only people at the winery for the Comstock Wines tasting. We literately had the entire place to ourselves, which was lovely. The Mezze Platter Lunch is delightful and the wine tasting was perfect! We even got to stroll around the vineyard a bit after we enjoyed the Classic Flight tasting. However, we also suggest trying their Zinfandel Flight too! We got a little taste of their Zinfandel as well as a wine education about this varietal. Address: 1290 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448 707.723.4229
Healdsburg Square Shopping
Healdsburg is a fun little town of about 12,000 people. It has a proper town square with great shops and restaurants. All of them are walkable which is what really needed after so much wine and food. Be sure to check out these shops. Jam Jar, Tamarind, Zizi Healdsburg, Rainsong Shoes, Ooh La Luxe. As you can see, social distancing was not a problem on the sidewalks.
Pete and I shopping in Healdsburg Square. Wearing face masks and social distancing is required.
Dinner at Valette | Healdsburg
Oh my goodness – this meal was sooooo good! Chef Dustin Valette is a character. We opted to let him do his thing with the Chef’s Tasting Menu. This is a five course meal with wine pairings and then you get to sample numerous desserts. We highly recommend going this route. Valette will not disappoint. Be sure you get to experience the Day Boat Scallops en Croute (pictured below). Every single course was amazing! We waddled home that evening but it was well worth it. Bonus: Dustin’s dad makes the rounds to say hello to all the patrons. He beams with pride about his son’s restaurant! Address: 344 Center Street, Healdsburg, California 95448. 707.473.0946
We checked out of Harmon Guest House and drove to Jordan Winery. It’s only 20 minutes by car. Because we are Platinum Wine Club Members of this winery, we were able to stay on property at one of their beautifully appointed chateau suites. I will go into much more detail about our Jordan Winery experiences and stay in the next blog post. To join the Jordan Winery Wine Club, click here.
The Scion Experience at Robert Young Estate Vineyards
We had the pleasure of doing this tasting with Robert Young who is 6th generation on this estate. There is a wonderful picture of him as a little boy with his grandfather Robert Young pruning the vines hanging in the Tasting Center. It’s only a 10 minute drive to Robert Young Estate Winery from Jordan Winery. The property is gorgeous and Robert’s story of battling the Sonoma fires to save the winery is pretty amazing. Did you know the safest place during a fire is the middle of the vineyard? Address: 5102 Red Winery Road, Geyserville, CA 95441. 707.395.3550
Rodney Strong Vineyards at Catelli’s
OK, we had to get a little inventive here due to schedule conflicts. Originally, we were supposed to meet Christopher O’Gorman, Director of Communications of Rodney Strong Vineyards at the winery. However, it worked out better for us to have dinner with him and his lovely wife Alexandra at Catelli’s. This was a win-win! We made new friends as well as got a wonderful vineyard education over Italian food. We certainly suggest going to the Rodney Strong Wine Estate for the proper tasting. And having dinner at Catelli’s. We just combined the two! Catelli’s address: 21047 Geyserville Ave, Geyserville, CA 95441 Robert Strong Wine Estate address:11455 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, CA 95448. 707.431.1533
Extra perk: Jordan Winery provided our transportation round-tip in their beautiful Jordan Mercedes luxury van.
Bricoleur Vineyards Essential Picnic Lunch
It’s not very often that you get to discover a brand new winery. And by brand new I mean they just opened! We met with Founder Mark Hanson and Hospitality Director Chris Richard while touring the Bricoleur Vineyards property. It’s absolutely spectacular! Gorgeous flowers and dining areas. They have a chef dedicated to culinary experiences on site. This is an excellent winery for events so keep them in mind for weddings and corporate shindigs. We did the Essential picnic lunch while tasting some of their delicious wines. Can’t get there? They also offer Virtual Tastings and Pairing Education sessions.
Here are some other things to consider while visiting the Sonoma County area. SingleThread is their 3 star Michelin rated restaurant so if that interests you, think ahead to get your booking. It’s located in Healdsburg and offers and 11-course Chef’s tasting menu. Chef/owner Kyle Connaughton is the creative force here.
We had dinner reservations at Mateo’s Cocina Latina but opted to stay in that evening. We hear great things about the restaurant. Address: 214 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448. 707.433.1520
We would have loved to do a tasting at Williams Selyem as I love their Pinot Noir but they were fully booked. This goes back to limited number of reservations at each winery. Be sure to make your plans in advance!
We enjoyed a late breakfast before heading back to Santa Rosa airport. The direct flight to Dallas departs at 11:48 AM so we did not visit any wineries on our last day. We were upgraded on the American Airlines non-stop flight which was nice. Again, no meal service but they do serve drinks in first class. It’s nice just to spread out a little more. This flight was about 70% full. Once we landed, our Alto was waiting for us as they have added an option to reserve your car ahead of time. This is a nice feature!
This itinerary was a good pace for us. The wine tastings take a little longer because food is involved and social distancing is a must. But honestly, who wants to rush around from vineyard to vineyard anyway? We would rather learn about each winery, get to know people and savor the moment. By the way, we felt completely safe during this entire trip. Cheers!
xoxo – Tanya
P.S. Refer back to my Sonoma Packing List for everything I wore on this trip.
photo: Pete Foster
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Thank you to Jordan Winery for hosting us on this trip. All opinions are my own.Tags: california, Healdsburg, Jordan Winery, Sonoma County, wine country