POSTED ON January 23, 2016 | IN Russian River Wine Country - Sonoma Cty., Tasting Rooms, Wine News | BY Joe Becerra

We were in Healdsburg last Tuesday and Wednesday while El Niño gave us a break between storms. The sun began to play hide-and-seek, starting around noon on Tuesday. With the threat of showers in the forecast, we decided to spend the afternoon on a wine walk in Healdsburg. Our first stop was the Healdsburg Bar & Grill for lunch. It’s always a decent lunch, very casual and warm. The grill has a nice selection of wines by the glass. Janelle had the Buehler Chardonnay for $8, and I had the Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel for $10.

While on our wine walk, we took a look inside two new restaurants: Kinsmoke, in the location of the old Center Street Deli, gives an added alternative to food options in Healdsburg. Kinsmoke is all about barbecue. Food is available by the pound. The salads are centered around smoke and barbecue flavors. There is counter service so that wine country buffs can order food and head to the wineries for a picnic lunch. Folks we talked to said the food is fantastic.

healdsburg wine walk

Cool mural on the Healdsburg wine walk

The Persimmons Restaurant opened last week and is in the location of the closed Charcuterie restaurant. It also adds a new touch to the Healdsburg restaurant scene, Asian fusion food. Danny Ma is the chef, and he has partnered with the two Diaz Brothers who have other successful restaurant businesses in Healdsburg.  We will wait for our next trip to Healdsburg to try these charming restaurants, but we gave the new Ralph’s Martini House a try that night. 

On the wine walk in Healdsburg

Williamson tasting room

Williamson on Matheson Street

Williamson Winery

This is quite a wine tasting room! It is a favorite spot on even a quiet winter day in Healdsburg. There were at least four staff members working the tasting room. The cool thing about the Williamson tasting room is the complimentary tasting for the first four wines. Plus, each wine is paired with cheese dabbed with various spices, jellies, and nuts, depending on the wine. The food provides a useful learning tool with a before-and-after taste with the wine. All the food pairings work! For $10, you can try two of the very expensive red wines. They do a nice sell job in the tasting room, and now Williamson has over 4000 club members. With that number of wine club members, no distribution of their wines is needed. The 15,000 cases of wine produced are all sold out of the tasting room or their online wine shop. Janelle and I thought the wines were very good, but unfortunately a little on the pricey side. The Sauvignon Blanc, more in the style of a White Bordeaux or Sancerre, was $28. That’s just too steep for me to enjoy when I can find a good French version for $15 in a wine shop. However, the complimentary tasting is a definite draw. I do not believe any other tasting room on the Healdsburg wine walk* has complimentary tasting. The Williamson tasting room is open daily from 11am to 7 pm and is located at 134 Matheson Street.

Banshee tasting room

Banshee tasting room on 325 Center Street

Banshee Wines

Banshee is one of the few winery successes of the now-defunct Crushpad (make your own wine) in San Francisco. Three friends started Banshee back in 2007 at the Crushpad, and today they are wildly successful producing 40,000 cases of wine per year.  We loved the casual atmosphere of the Banshee tasting room. Lounging chairs and a sofa provide a relaxing and laid back environment. Our server, Brandon,  was low key, cordial, and very knowledgable. “No rush, no fuss,” could be the mantra at the Banshee tasting room. Tasting is $20 for six wines. The Banshee wines were more reasonably priced than at Williamson, plus there were more Pinot Noir wines to taste. One other nice extra at Banshee is the availability of wines by the glass or by the bottle. The Banshee tasting room is open daily from 11am to 7 pm.

Additional important Healdsburg Info