Plan a trip to Sonoma wine country

Of all California’s wine regions, Sonoma may be the easiest to fall in love with. Visit this laid-back land of vineyard-rich valleys, from Sonoma to Dry Creek to Alexander, with the Russian River thrown in

Savor Healdsburg's simple pleasures

Where to go and what to do on a lazy summer day in California's Wine Country

Healdsburg's simple Wine Country charm

Picnicking at Medlock Ames Winery

Jenny Pfeiffer

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Info: Healdsburg is about 65 miles north of San Francisco. Contact the Healdsburg visitor bureau (707/433-6935) for more details.

It's true: Healdsburg has gone upscale on us. There's Cyrus, the restaurant that's giving the French Laundry a run for its money, and Les Mars Hôtel, which feels more like Louis XIV's Loire Valley than today's Sonoma County.

But despite its elegant new trappings, Healdsburg is still, at heart, a simple country town.

Visit on a warm July day, when the mood is lazy, summer produce is ripe, and fall-crush madness hasn't yet begun. You'll remember why you first fell in love with this place.


 What: Local celebrity chefs buy their produce here. When: 4-6:30 Tue through Oct (between Healdsburg Ave. and Center, Matheson, and Plaza Streets); 9-noon Sat through Nov (North and Vine Streets).


 What: Ames Morison takes guests on tours of the oak- and madrone-covered hills around his 188-acre property, followed by tastings in the underground barrel room. When: By appointment only. How much: Call for details. Where: 13414 Chalk Hill Rd.; 707/431-8845.


 What: Lovely picnic grounds and baskets of warm bread made by Lou Preston are two reasons to visit this winery. Ask about the refillable jug wine, served most Sundays. How much: Tasting $5. Where: 9282 W. Dry Creek Rd.; 707/433-3372.


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