Wine By Appointment Goes Square (Healdsburg Square)
The following blog was written before the Kincaid fire started on October 23, 2019. As of this writing, the fire is no longer raging. Most wineries sustained no damage. The best thing the public can do to support this magical place is to visit their wineries and buy their wine (and write about it)!
Early in October, Wine By Appointment had the opportunity to visit several wineries in the Healdsburg, California area. Healdsburg is a charming community. The downtown area features a square (literally) with a park and a gazebo in the center ringed with excellent restaurants, bookstores made for browsing, and yes, wonderful wineries!!.
Let me insert a note before we go further. Healdsburg and its environs are known for stellar Pinot Noir…while wineries in the area obviously make other types of wine, Pinot Noir wines are particularly prized. Wine Spectator has identified six California top Pinot Noir regions, four of which are in the Sonoma/Healdsburg area, so rest assured you’re in for a special treat when visiting any of these wineries.
The first winery on our list was Banshee Wines (www.bansheewines.com) 325 Center Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 395-0915. Best to call for reservations, particularly parties of 6 people or more.
Banshee Wines was born in a bar in the San Francisco Dogpatch area; its inaugural wines were made from Pinot Noir grapes from Sonoma Valley. The winery moved several years later to its current location in Healdsburg. Sourcing grapes from Sonoma Valley, Anderson Valley, and Russian River vineyards, the winery delivers on its promise to craft distinctive wines. This winery is worth a stop. A funky, urban den with comfy sofas beckons to visitors to stop and sample their impressive wines, again, particularly Pinot Noir. Definitely recommend making a reservation and stopping in.
Next on our list was Cartograph Winery, 340 Center St, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433-8270.
Cartograph Winery is the creation of Alan Baker and Serena Lourie. Founded in 2008, the winery has both a compelling story and name. The word cartograph means a map or chart, specifically an illustrated map. Cartograph Wines has chosen to illustrate the journey of their winery creation in their wine labels, and this depiction also graces the walls of their tasting salon.
Cartograph has become one of my new favorites. Like a number of winery finds I’ve discovered over the years, this one was recommended by another Pinot Noir winery. After sampling Cartograph’s wines, it is evident why they felt confident in their recommendations. Cartograph has terrific wines. Their Pinot Noir wines are memorable, and their Starscape Vineyard Gerẅurtraminer is definitely worth tasting (hey, I like white wines too). Featuring an uber-modern tasting room, Cartograph is worth a stop just to sip some of their great wines and to look at their famed cartograph.
Davis Family Vineyards
Davis Family Vineyards (52 Front Street, Healdsburg, CA 94558, (707) 569-0171) is like visiting an old family friend. In fact, the quote from their website, “We’re not just out to make great wines…We’re out to make great friends!” sums up their philosophy. Decidedly unpretentious, visitors are invited to sample the winery’s wares in a rustic salon or relax in their outside beautiful garden. Davis Family Vineyards makes consistently excellent wines, particularly their Pinot Noirs. Wining years of accolades from such publications as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast as well as Pinofile and Robert Parker, this winery is on my to-stop-in list every time I visit Healdsburg.
La Follette Wines
La Follette Wines (409A Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 473-8244). Steps from the Healdsburg Square, La Follette Winery is housed in a modern, elegant salon. Sourcing grapes from noted area Pinot Noir vineyards, La Follette is all about the terroir. The winery prides itself on producing single-vineyard wines that capture the very best of each vineyard. Elegant and refined wines will greet visitors who will be glad they stopped in.
These are just snippets about the wineries that will be part of the new Pinot Noir in Healdsburg guide, out soon, so stay tuned.
A special shoutout to my closest friend and great photographer, Laurie Pedersen, who kindly accompanied me on this outing and supplied the photos.