Monthly Archives: June 2012

Healdsburg Hospitality

A woman I met at pilates hooked me up with some winemakers she knows. SWEET. It took almost no prodding from me either. We were just chatting after class and, naturally, where I was from and what I’m doing here came up in conversation. People jump at the chance to help.

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The Wurst

After working all weekend, I needed to throw on some jeans to take a break from the computer screen and try a new place for lunch: The Wurst Sausage Grill & Beer Garden. Gotta love the name! The best part of The Wurst is they had the Giants game on (with audio) and gave me free ice cream for wearing a Giants tank top. Healdsburg has spirit!

That’s not the best part! The best part is they source their meat from local farms who have 100% grass fed beef and it is juicy delicious. But really, the best part is the dippers. I couldn’t decide between curry or jalapeno ketchup so I had both. Actually, the best best part is I forgot my stress and had a really good time. I can’t wait to go back and get my Wurst Customer card stamped.


Taste of Healdsburg

Three weeks here and I am still trying a new restaurant every night. I figure, if I eat somewhere new each night, I’ll meet a new set of people. Yesterday, I had dinner next to a lawyer who grew up here and has seen the town change drastically in that time. Shops, hotels, and restaurants replaced orchards and barns. His eyes lit up telling stories of childhood days on the Russian River. Good thing that’s not going anywhere.

If it were not for pilates 3 times a week, I would not be able to do all this eating out. But the studio I chose based on price and location does not give you the killer workout. They only offer mat classes—no reformer machines. So, they are a lot like yoga. A few instructors even incorporate yoga into their pilates classes so they should really call them yolates or piloga.


Amarone

Rare is it that one gets to meet a winemaker who is also a chef. Even more seldom does one get to meet someone making Amarone right here in California. Can you even say Amarone? It’s a rich rare Italian wine made from the grapes halfway to becoming raisins. But what’s even more remarkable about Fabiano Ramaci is the zest with which he approaches everything he does.

Most people who decide to make wine, buy grapes or a vineyard. Tall order! But, Ramaci got valuable cuttings and planted them in his backyard. When he barbecues, he gets his heat from vine trimmings. Instead of a label, his wife hand paints every bottle. What’s not to love about such passionate practices!?

I have no idea what his future plans are but I’m sure they will be epic. He is clearly one to watch. I plan to stay in touch. What I would give to watch him cook. If he gives me the chance, I’ll be sure to record and post a vid.


Merlocity

Grapevines are tough and durable. Their roots reach over 30 feet into the ground and can survive in conditions that would starve other plants. The Merlot grape is revered for being one of the most resilient. It’s taken such a beating. I’m not just referring to references in the media, turning Merlot lovers into pinot lovers. Sadly, these people missed a brilliant Merlot metaphor, making it the star of the movie over its temperamental bud. Merlot has also had a tough time throughout history because of overplanting, overproduction, and the substandard quality that comes with anything that’s overproduced.

Yet, it remains a favorite when it’s done right. I can’t just buy blind; I have to try a Merlot before I buy. But the A. Rafanelli consistently hits the mark. Dave Rafinelli is a big star in a small class of Merlot producers that’s doing it right. The deep, rich, warm, elegant, dark fruit flavors make it a wine to sip standalone or pair with just about any meal and the long almost chocolaty finish makes you feel sexy. If you can find a better Merlot than this, I’d like to know about it.


Best Breakfast

Woke up craving biscuits and gravy and, no idea why, but I just knew this place would have it. The Singletree Inn Café was recommended by the owners of the cottage I’m renting and it hit the spot. It’s plain and simple, just a bit off the Plaza, and not the wine country breakfast experience visitors might want. But, the locals know, when it comes to a tasty country breakfast, tangy barbecue, and salty spicy home fries, this is it.


Portalupi

I know it’s a bit early to say this but I think Portalupi is my favorite place to taste wine in Healdsburg. Strollable to all the action in downtown Healdsburg, Portalupi is a spot you want to return to again and again. The tasting room is like a lounge where you can relax on velvet sofas and savor your tasting. Jane and Tim, a husband and wife winemaking team, are entertaining hosts taking you through their local lineup of delicious wines that embrace their Italian heritage. Their lineup is like a good Italian meal; it begins with a light crisp chilled white blend that whets your appetite, a few velvety rich reds fill your mouth, and a sweet bold port tops it off. You leave feeling well fed and relaxed.