Sonoma Food and Wine Pairings in Healdsburg
Autumn officially arrives this week, which can only mean one thing: California harvest season is upon us The MLB playoffs are around the corner. And this summer, I spent several weeks at the source, in one of my favorite corners of California, Sonoma County. For me, Sonoma is the be-all California destination. Beaches, check. Outdoor adventures, check. Craft beer, check. Wineries, check. Amazing food, check. So following my most recent Northern California wine country trip, I'm coming at you with where to go for Sonoma food and wine pairings in Healdsburg.
Frankly, I'm not sure it's possible to visit Northern California wine country and have a bad time. And that couldn't be truer than of my favorite California wine destination, Sonoma, and more specifically, the hella charming town of Healdsburg. Here, in Healdsburg, amazing food and drink experiences converge that you can't just have in any small town. Among those experiences are food and wine pairings, which you'll find at select Sonoma County wineries. Below, find a few of my favorite Sonoma food and wine pairings in Healdsburg.
J Vineyards & Winery
J Vineyards & Winery was one of the first wineries I visited in Sonoma, setting the bar very high. That's when I first experienced the the J Bubble Room, which houses one of the first wine and food pairing programs in Sonoma County (dating back to 1999). The Bubble Room's signature tasting is the crème de la crème of Sonoma food and wine pairings, featuring a a five-course showcase of Executive Chef Carl Shelton and winemaker Nicole Hitchcock. However, J offers other pairing experiences, including a terrace tasting that pairs four wines with four bites and the J Legacy Tasting, pairing some of their small-production wines with cheese and charcuterie. I recommend reservations for all of these experiences. Furthermore, I'd recommend booking it mid-afternoon as your last winery stop before a late Healdsburg dinner.
Lambert Bridge Winery
I've actually partnered with Lambert Bridge Winery this year to experience their Liquid Assets Membership, which is particularly of note since you can only get their wine through Lambert Bridge Winery's membership program or at the winery itself. And a great introduction to their wines is the Bordeaux flight, which features their Bordeaux-style of wines (which they specialize in) paired with local and regional cheese in the beautiful Cellar Room with Lambert Bridge's wine educator. Check out Lambert Bridge Winery's event schedule, too, since they often team up with wine country chefs for unique multi-course dinners. Among their upcoming dining events: Their September 30th annual Harvest Dinner and a couple of chef's table series dinners during the fall months. Not to mention that the winery and property itself is stunning, located in the heart of the Dry Creek Valley.
Jordan Winery is a long-time, award-winning Sonoma winery, dating back to 1972, and affording a unique Sonoma wine tasting experience in a beautiful setting. Jordan is so beautiful in fact that it was a finalist for San Francisco Magazine's Most Instagram Friendly Winery. Among the unique things about Jordan Winery is that each of their main tastings feature a food pairing, including the Library Tasting, Winery Tour & Library Tasting, and Estate Tour & Tasting. That's the perk of a winery with an in-house chef and its own garden, covering an acre of the winery's property. Come harvest season, Jordan's silver, gold and platinum members can make a request for the winery's family-style harvest lunch, served daily on weekdays through early October. (Photo below from Jordan Winery)
Last, but not least, is Williamson Wines, conveniently located in downtown Healdsburg, just off the plaza, and a short walk from most of the town's hotels and restaurants. At Williamson, too, all of the tastings include food pairings. What's more, for just $15, their chef will increase the portions to turn your food and wine pairing into a wine pairing lunch. For wine club members, Williamson hosts quarterly "Pickup Parties", in which members can try new recipes and cheeses paired with each of the new wines. Like many of the other wineries above, Williamson also hosts several dining events per year, including monthly Epicurean Dinners, a themed multi-course dinner paired with their wines.