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The Diablo Guide: Wine Country's Best New things

Just when you thought you could stay home for the weekend, we tracked down 25 new reasons why you have got to go to Wine Country. These resturants, shops, and hotels- from Carneros to Calistoga to Geyserville- made their way into our pages not only because they're new, but also because they're too delicious, too divine and too decadent to miss.


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Boon Fly Café, Napa Going to the Boon Fly Café at the Carneros Inn feels like visiting the rural Midwest, with one important distinction: The food’s good. Make that extremely good. Part country farmhouse, the restaurant has a tractor logo and curtains made of white-and-blue-striped pillow ticking. Lots of light and clean lines, including exposed metal beams, save it from kitschiness.The food—the executive chef is Kimball Jones, formerly of Wente—couldn’t be livelier. A salad of greens with “soft herbs,” including just-picked dill, mint, and chive, is served still kicking. People who think that salad should be alive will find they’ve come to the right place.Flavors in the flatiron steak with salsa verde, parmesan fries, and lightly dressed watercress are also outstanding. The irresistible, crisp fries—with skin intact—are flecked with fresh parsley and bits of grated parmesan. Not surprisingly, the restaurant offers a killer selection of California wines. Boon Fly Café, 4048 Sonoma Hwy., Napa, (707) 299-4900, www.thecarnerosinn.com. Breakfast, lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily, brunch Sat.–Sun. Entrées: $10–$19.

Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Provisions, Napa You can spit and swear while you’re at the Old West–style Bounty Hunter, which you wouldn’t expect at a place with a huge, standout wine list and simple food so good that you’ll have trouble packing in everything you want to eat. Like the beer-can chicken. The bird is covered with Cajun spices, placed atop an open can of Tecate, and roasted golden and moist. The cheese and charcuterie plates have got zee French flair, but in an easy-going way. With good food and wine served on tables built atop wine barrels—and a couple of Western saddles available for anyone in your party who wants a pretend pony ride—the Bounty Hunter is about having a good time eating and drinking, and maybe listening to a little early Bonnie Raitt playing in the background. And by the way, this place has the nicest servers ever, anywhere. Are they part-owners? On ecstasy? Or just plain thrilled to have found a groove in downtown Napa? Bounty Hunter, 975 First St., Napa, (707) 255-0622, www.bountyhunterwine.com. Sun.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat.11 a.m.–1 a.m. Entrées: $10–$18.

Budo, Napa What your server brings to your table at Budo can look more like an artist’s palette than a plate of food. A swirl of mango puree, mere dots of basil oil, and a rectangular imprint of fresh beet juice give your taste buds, if not your jaws, a workout at this spare, Asian-inspired restaurant, which opened earlier this year.
The portions may be small, but they’re lusciously satisfying. The butter-poached lobster, fried panko-crusted Malpeque oyster, or squab with foie gras will make your fat sensors squeal delightedly. While the menu seems inspired by the likes of Thomas Keller and Michael Mina, Budo is also breaking new ground with seasonal sensations like pineapple sorbet with Thai basil.
If any of this is sounding too serious, we should describe our server, a mischievous type, who giggled as he hurried to and from our table bringing us more and more tiny treats. He personified the playfulness of a restaurant where ingredients are like kindergarten art supplies in the hands of the chef.
Budo, 1650 Soscol Ave., Napa, (707) 224-2330, www.restaurantbudo.com. Dinner daily. Entrées: $26–$45.

Wine Garden, Yountville The Nords, a Napa grape-growing family, didn’t go too upscale when they ventured into the restaurant business: They revived a funky old frame building that long had housed the Diner, a beloved Yountville breakfast institution. Nonetheless, they’ve designed a beautiful, 77-seat space with some hip touches, like zinc-topped tables and dark hardwood floors. The atmosphere is casual and friendly, and so is the food: small plates right out of America’s melting pot. Salmon skewers are grilled with roasted garlic in an herb-caper marinade. Prosciutto “cigars” consist of prosciutto wrapped around crunchy green beans, watercress, and peanuts. Carnitas tortas, of pulled Niman Ranch pork with salsa on sesame seed buns, will have you on the phone to your addiction counselor. The wine list features bottles from wineries that use Nord grapes, and it includes 10 wine flights. For dessert, the menu pays tribute to the Diner: buttermilk milkshakes flavored with whatever fruit is in season. On warm days, get out to the garden, where picnic tables nestle among flowers, fruit trees, and redwoods.
Wine Garden, 6476 Washington St., Yountville, (707) 945-1002, Ext. 1, www.napawinegarden.com. Sun.–Thurs.11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Small plates: $4.95–$18.

The di Rosa Preserve, Napa You might think having fun in Wine Country mostly involves pondering what’s poured into a glass in front of you, not what’s hung on the walls of an art gallery. And mostly you’d be right. But the di Rosa Preserve, with its collection of contemporary works by Northern California artists, is all about color and joy and fun and feeling a genuine connection to the art. A peaceful lake seen through giant windows is one of the pastoral backdrops against which the quirky, whimsical display comes alive.
The di Rosa Preserve isn’t new, of course, but you no longer need an appointment to visit Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The combination of the gorgeous landscape, docents who are obviously avid students of the art, and the somewhat crazy collection make this place well worth getting to on a Friday.
The di Rosa Preserve, 5200 Carneros Hwy., Napa, (707) 226-5991, www.dirosapreserve.org. Tues.–Fri. 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m. or by appointment. Admission to Gatehouse Gallery: $3. Call for reservations for a guided tour of the Gatehouse Gallery, Main Gallery, and former di Rosa residence ($12–$15).

26, Napa Downtown Napa has never really seen the likes of 26, an ultrahip clothing boutique on Main Street near the river. The tall-ceilinged expanse is tastefully and sparingly adorned with women’s, men’s, and children’s fashions by Nanette Lepore, Juicy Couture, Ben Sherman, and Ella Moss, to name a few. Looking for some Paul Frank shorty pajamas? This is the place. The Napa rendition of 26 might save you a trip to the shopper’s mini-paradise known as St. Helena, home of the first 26 store.
26, 1144 Main St., Napa, (707) 253-2626, www.click26.com . Sun.–Thurs., 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m.

Vineyard Dog, Napa Dog is man’s best friend, so it’s only right that you buy your pooch a powder-pink cashmere sweater with chocolate brown piping and a zippered turtleneck ($110). Napa’s newest doggy boutique is so hard to resist that you might find yourself picking up a dog bed made out of an oak wine barrel ($225), which comes complete “with French plaque.” (We’re not sure why that’s desirable. Ask your dog.) Or a Chihuahua harness, which looks much like a sports bra for Barbie, in Day-Glo green. Luckily, Vineyard Dog is also a bakery, so in case Fifi doesn’t really appreciate the cashmere wrap, you can bring home five assorted dog cookies in a bakery box.
Vineyard Dog, 1136 Main St., Napa, (707) 226-5300, www.vineyarddog.com. Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. 12–5 p.m.

The Poetry Inn, Napa Sure, waking up to an above-it-all view of Napa Valley is sweet, especially when you’re swaddled in silky-soft bed linens in a designer’s dream of a suite. And the beauty and privacy of a bathed-in-light suite isn’t hard to take either. But it was hearing birdsong at dawn, the natural accompaniment to lodging at the Poetry Inn, in the hills above the Stags Leap wine district, that soothed us right to the edge of oblivion.

Owner Cliff Lede is going to have a hard time finding any poets who can afford the nightly rate, but luckily he’s open to sharing the “poetry lifestyle” with anyone with deep enough pockets, regardless of their literary or spiritual aspirations. That lifestyle includes 950 to 1,450 feet of living space in each of the inn’s suites (the Emily Dickinson, the Robert Frost, and the Robert Louis Stevenson); a secluded outdoor shower that allows you to commune with nature in your own personal birdbath; an indoor bathtub big enough for the two of you; an oversized hammock on the balcony; and a three-course breakfast that’s full of fresh, surprising flavors—we had baked eggs with spinach, chicken apple sausage, and roasted red pepper for the main course, served with a chili-flecked fruit salsa.
Ask about the inn’s Blend Your Own Barrel program. For $15,000 per couple, you’ll experience two days of vineyard tours and blending trials as you select wine from Cliff Lede Vineyards to produce 120 bottles’ worth of your own estate wine.
The Poetry Inn, 6380 Silverado Trail, Napa, (707) 944-0646, www.poetryinn.com. Suites: $475-$1,250.

Café 29 Bistro, St. Helena Café 29 Bistro is a good roadside stop for don’t-be-shy portions of burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, and pork chops. It’s also popular among locals for omelets, German pancakes, and other breakfast classics. But casual at Café Bistro doesn’t mean pedestrian. Sit out on the covered deck overlooking a vineyard, sip a glass of wine, and enjoy that burger, laid out on a pillowy ciabatta roll, or a quesadilla that comes with salsa made with grapes and melons. The adjacent A Dozen Vintners tasting room pours wine produced by some of the valley’s boutique hillside producers, such as von Strasser Winery and Howell Mountain Vineyards. Care for some $70-a-bottle Cab to wash down that burger?
Café 29 Bistro, 3000 Hwy. 29 N., St. Helena, (707) 963-9919, www.cafe29.com . Breakfast and lunch Tues.–Sun., dinner Thurs.–Sat. (4–8:30 p.m.). Entrées: $11–$18.

Cook, St. Helena Once the sun goes down, this tiny restaurant in downtown St. Helena offers a cozy spot for romance or a special dinner with family or friends. Try the eggplant parmigiana appetizer, the salad with homemade mozzarella and sautéed peppers and tomatoes, a hearty dish of pasta, or a plate of roasted, buttery poussin served over a mound of artichokes, olives, and tomato confit. The creation of Jude Wilmoth—a veteran cook of Tra Vigne and Père Jeanty—and his brother, Michael, Cook has won a huge local following for its good, solid food, friendly interior, and unpretentious service. Families with small kids will be as comfortable hanging out here as are food snobs.
Cook, 1310 Main St., St. Helena, (707) 963-7088. Tues.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Entrées: $18–$21.

Press, St. Helena A dark-wood bar anchors one end of Press and a massive, rustic, wood fireplace the other. In between, the new warehouse-size space is awash in light and white. Towering windows surrounding diners on three sides offer a sweep of sky.
The food, likewise, is both ethereal and earthbound. The menu offers some of the same hearty choices you’d find at a steak house: grilled or roasted beef, poultry, seafood, and lamb. The cuts are generous; some may call them supersized. But many of the preparations have a light touch, employing fresh, seasonal produce and other ingredients from some of the best local and national purveyors around, including Dean & Deluca next door and Brentwood’s Frog Hollow Farm.

Desserts also manage to keep things light. A wildflower honey sabayon adds delicacy to a bowl of fresh strawberries, and even a meltingly warm chocolate soufflé won’t weigh you down.

Despite its cavernous setting, Press is somehow not noisy, adding to the illusion that you’ve entered a little corner of heaven.
Press, 587 St. Helena Hwy. S., St. Helena, (707) 967-0550, www.presssthelena.com . Dinner daily. Entrées: $18–$49.

Revana Family Vineyard, St. Helena If powerhouse Cabs are your thing, a visit to the new Revana Family Vineyard is a must. The vineyard manager is the highly sought-after Jim Barbour. The winemaker is cult queen Heidi Peterson Barrett, who oversaw the construction of the winery and now makes her own label, La Sirena, here as well. In other words, what goes on at this wine haven is magic, at least if you agree with Wine Spectator magazine, which gave Revana’s 2001 Cabernet, its first release, 91 points out of 100.
Revana, 2930 St. Helena Hwy. N., St. Helena, (707) 967-8814, www.revanawine.com. Call for an appointment.

Main Element, Calistoga Art you can wear. Art you can sit on, put your socks in, and, of course, gaze at lovingly—that’s what you’ll find at the Main Element, a sleek little shop on Calistoga’s main drag that opened in 2004. The Main Element features beautifully crafted, one-of-a-kind furniture, lamps, jewelry, clothing, paintings, and glass sculpture, nearly all created by Wine Country artists. Most of the furniture has a modern, functional edge, but doesn’t sacrifice a sense of richness or comfort. Check out, for instance, a gently curving rocking chair carved out of eucalyptus ($3,400) or a copper-and-steel floor lamp with a mica shade depicting a golden pastoral scene ($449).
Main Element, 1333 A Lincoln Ave., Calistoga, (707) 942-6347, www.mainelementart.com. Sun.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga Calistoga Ranch has gotten national press as the “sexy new Wine Country resort.” OK, it’s sexy, but really its version of allure is very much its own, very Northern California: outdoorsy and New Age serene. The ranch sits on 157 acres of ancient oaks and evergreens, reached by winding up a private canyon off the Silverado Trail.

The rooms aren’t really rooms, but rather, stand-alone cedar-sided lodges. They don’t merely blend with the golden landscape, they invite it in. Built a few feet off the ground with plenty of windows, the lodges make you feel like you’re sojourning in a tree house—although not one Tarzan would recognize. Each has a redwood deck that offers an ideal perch for morning coffee or nighttime stargazing. A smaller deck off the spacious bath suite comes with an outdoor shower and a chaise for private sunbathing.

If you pull yourself away from your downy king-sized bed, you can get in a treadmill session in the outdoor fitness area, then float lazily in the pool overlooking grapes used for the resort’s own wine. Or head up the canyon to the Bathhouse spa for a buttermilk bath and outdoor massage. Afterward, enjoy a meal at the lakefront Lakehouse, where peaks of the Mayacamas Mountains rise in the background. Soft jazz drifts over the tables, but the real music is the low, rumbling croak of bullfrogs echoing down the valley.
Calistoga Ranch, 580 Lommel Rd., Calistoga, (707) 254-2800, www.calistogaranch.com. Rooms start at $550 per night.

El Dorado Kitchen, Sonoma On a warm summer evening, the poolside dining area at El Dorado Kitchen offers an especially good way to enjoy what executive chef Ryan Fancher (a former sous chef at the French Laundry) calls the “food of the sun”—that is, food showcasing fresh, seasonal produce. It would be easy to fill up on the fritto misto starter: a heaping plate of sunchokes, green beans, and slices of fennel bulbs ever-so-lightly deep-fried in a corn-and-buttermilk batter. But save room for the other best-of-the-season dishes. In early June, English peas starred in an airy white truffle–foam risotto, and poached apricots added a delicious sweetness when laid atop silky, savory scallops. The food is both earthy and sophisticated, a combination that’s echoed in the minimalist décor, both indoors and out.
El Dorado Kitchen, 405 First St. W., Sonoma, (707) 996-3030, www.eldoradosonoma.com. Lunch and dinner daily. Entrées: $17–$26.

La Salette, Sonoma Wander off a main square in Lisbon and you’re bound to come across a restaurant like La Salette, a spot prized for good food and a convivial atmosphere. At lunch one weekday, three local B&B owners bumped into one another and decided to share a table, as well as a bottle of wine, some gossip, and hearty plates of Portuguese cheeses, mussels, and clams. For day-trippers, a good lunchtime choice is the $12 soup and salad combination, which might include a buttery fennel soup and a crisp Caesar salad topped with chicken grilled in spicy Portuguese piri piri sauce. The soup and salad are accompanied by a warm corn roll, spiced with cinnamon and cumin, made from chef Manuel Azevedo’s mother’s secret recipe. At dinner, try the porco a Alentejana, a classic pork stew, or bacalhau, a salt cod casserole. For dessert, there’s sweet, dense fig cake surrounding hazelnut ice cream, which redefines the ice cream sandwich.
La Salette, 452 First St. E., Ste. H, Sonoma, (707) 938-1927, www.lasalette-restaurant.com. Tues.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., crepes served Wed.–Sun. 8:30–11:30 a.m.

Sonoma Plaza Tasting Rooms, Sonoma It used to be that when you wanted to taste wine at Castle Vineyards & Winery, you’d go check a sign in the driveway. If it said the winery was open, you could go hunker down in a nondescript building and taste some stunning Sirah, Pinot, or even Viognier. Now Castle Vineyards has opened a tasting room in a sweet little 1922 bungalow on Sonoma Plaza that once belonged to the famous winemaking Sebastianis. Here, you can sip wine in the shady front garden.

The tasting room for Charles Creek Vineyards is located in an 1890s storefront, and a life-size statue of a cow made of wine corks reflects founders Bill and Gerry Brinton’s down-home approach to winemaking. Their traditional midwestern values shine through in their wines, which by most accounts could be sold for $30 to $75, but are offered in the $20 to $30 price range. Tasting room manager Alan Wastell will pour you a rich and spicy 2002 Miradero Merlot, and make a good case for why Merlot should be hip again, Sideways notwithstanding.
Enjoy a two-for-one experience in the tasting room for the Mayo Family Winery, housed in a historic storefront on the plaza’s southwest corner. The tasting room shares a space with the Corner Store, a purveyor of colorful crockery, linens, and other items for your home. Let your eyes wander over the latest kitchen table tchotchkes while you nibble on a Spanish cheese and taste Mayo’s oaky 2002 Chardonnay or the “party in a glass” 2003 Libertine, an interesting red blend.

Castle Vineyards & Winery, 122 W. Spain St., (707) 996-1966, www.castlevineyards.com; daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Charles Creek Vineyards, 483 First St. W., (707) 935-3848, www.charlescreek.com; daily 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Mayo Family Winery, 498 First St. E., (707) 996-9911, www.mayofamilywinery.com; Mon.–Sat. 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Sun. 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Artefact, Sonoma If you’re a scavenger at heart, especially one with high-end taste, Artefact Design and Salvage is a good place to stop on your way in to or out of Sonoma. It’s one of the home and garden shops housed in the Cornerstone Festival of Gardens, a nine-acre outdoor museum displaying cutting-edge landscape design. Shop for unusual antiques, architectural elements, and design pieces to jazz up your home or backyard. You’ll find such goodies as early 20th-century urns, a pair of 1907 street lamps, 19th-century wrought-iron gates, and gothic-looking pediments rescued from old Manhattan buildings. A 10-foot–diameter cast-iron turn-of-the-20th-century clock face found in a Pennsylvania town (which goes for a mere $15,400) could serve as an unusual wall hanging in a grand entryway or as a detail embedded into a floor or table. Artefact also sells new home accessories made by local artists.
Artefact Design & Salvage, Cornerstone Festival of Gardens, 23570 Hwy. 121, Sonoma, (707) 933-0660, www.artefactdesignsalvage.com. Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma Think of a boutique, Wine Country version of SFMOMA. The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is an oasis of Mario Botta-esque modernism just south of the town’s historic plaza. In this space since 1999, the museum exhibits the works—both classic and contemporary—of local, national, and international artists. Past exhibits have featured sculpture studies by Auguste Rodin, paintings by Diego Rivera, and a recent show investigating the design of the chair from ancient Egypt through the 20th century, including works on loan from the de Young and Legion of Honor museums. Starting this month, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art presents a collection of Southwest Native American pottery, jewelry, and baskets on loan from the California Academy of Sciences. On a summer day, after you’ve toured the mission or browsed in shops on the plaza, the museum offers a cool sanctuary full of art and design.
The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, 551 Broadway, Sonoma, (707) 939 7862, www.svma.org. Wed.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission: $5 per person, $8 per family.

Gaige House Inn, Glen Ellen The new spa suites at the Gaige House Inn are creek-side retreats—cool and woodsy in summer—with serene Asian décor and patios out back. Come through the door, and your first impulse is to take off your shoes and follow the cool stone floor: Pass the bathroom, where the stone tub looks like half a dinosaur egg, then pause to breathe in the calm of the courtyard, and finally emerge into the cedar-perfumed bedroom of dark wood and crisp white fabrics. Every bit of the experience says “aaaah.”

Breakfast at Gaige House Inn is its own form of renewal. When we went, the experience began with strawberries, blueberries, and orange slices fanned out in a semi-hollowed orange rind. Then came a sort of amuse-bouche consisting of a teeny-tiny potato blini with roasted eggplant and red pepper. You could eat a whole plate of them, but that first taste was the whole point. The main event was a smoked salmon, goat cheese, and scrambled egg crepe, served in a sweet leek and green garlic broth, with delicate curls of bacon.
Nestled up against a Sonoma Mountain ridge, the Gaige House Inn allows some serious lounging and reflecting. Beyond the swimming pool, on a shady deck above a burbling creek, are a hammock and chaises that call out for a long stretch of staring at the tree canopy against a brilliant blue sky.
Gaige House Inn, 13540 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen, (707) 935-0237, www.gaige.com . Spa suites: $450 to $550.

Santi, Geyserville When you first see its simple storefront entrance in the strip of old-timey businesses that is downtown Geyserville, you may wonder why you’ve bothered to drive the seven miles from Healdsburg to eat at Santi. But like many restaurants in Italy’s wine country, Santi is dusty farm on the outside and la bella vita once you step in the door.
Contemporary Italian art adds fascinating shapes and color to a beautiful space built in 1902, which now features fresh buttery walls and handsome olive-green fabric billowing from the ceiling. The mix of new and old feels authentic, as does the mix of local and Italian foods and wine.

Speaking of food, the subtle melding of vivid flavors you encounter at Santi, whether in a spinach salad suffused with the woodsy roastedness of pine nuts, arugula, and prosciutto, or in a delicately crisped fillet of halibut with cannellini beans prepared with homemade pancetta and sublime olive oil, will make you feel like you’re in the old country.
Santi, 21047 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville, (707) 857-1790, www.tavernasanti.com. Lunch Thurs.–Mon., dinner daily, brunch Sun. Entrées: $14.75–$29.75.

Barndiva, Healdsburg Barndiva is, in fact, a barn, but it’s like no other barn you’ve ever seen. The sight of an enormous and dramatic flower arrangement strikes you as you enter. The walls are stark and bright, and huge windows flood the room with light. The furniture is an interesting mix of rustic and sleek. A set of shapely, high-design pitchforks hangs on the wall. Obscure contemporary music plays in the background.

The food is just as stylish and appealing as the surroundings. One lunch special, a flank steak and avocado sandwich on grilled artisanal bread, is served with an aioli made with roasted chipotle chilies to give it a little heat. Juicy and flavorful, it was brought to us by one of the many beautiful, multilingual Barndiva servers. A salad of greens with pear, fennel, pine nuts, and Asiago cheese with a fig-walnut vinaigrette is worthy of the supermodels who serve it.
Barndiva, 231 Center St., Healdsburg, (707) 431-0100, www.barndiva.com. Wed.–Thurs. noon–11 p.m., Fri.–Sat. noon–midnight, Sun. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Entrées: $18–$23.

Cyrus, Healdsburg The show begins as soon as you arrive at Cyrus. A hostess picks up a special phone to alert the kitchen that you are headed to your table. This allows the staff to swoop over with the caviar and champagne cart faster than a team of paramedics.
This kind of attention can be a good thing—if you’re celebrating a special occasion and want a dramatic evening of eating and having people dance attendance upon you. Fortunately, the people doing the dancing are irreverent, so things don’t get overly serious.
The food is ultra-dramatic. Well-credentialed chef Douglas Keane—who worked at Gary Danko and Jardinière—has distilled much of his job down to combining essences. Order something called a pea ragout, and you will be knocked over by a wave—no a tsunami—of green pea flavor. Once you’ve righted yourself, a bite of seared foie gras with lentils will send you head over heels once again. The black bass is crisp on the outside, and, again, the concentration of flavor in the dried scallop broth is a knockout. One of our dream team of servers hit it on the head when she asked, “How are you enjoying your flavors?”

Speaking of flavors, check out the wine list, by genius sommelier Jason Alexander.
Cyrus, 29 North St., Healdsburg, (707) 433-3311, www.cyrusrestaurant.com. Dinner daily. Three to five courses: $58-$80.

New Sonoma Wineries, Healdsburg The Mauritson Family Winery is smack in the middle of an expanse of valley on Dry Creek Road so inviting it’ll have you reading the Sonoma real estate listings. Even if you don’t move in, Mauritson is the place to go for Zins. Be sure to check out the chocolaty 2001 Dry Creek Zinfandel.

Another new gem is Dutcher Crossing, whose elegant, high-ceilinged tasting room looks out on stunning valley views. We liked the whites, especially a nicely balanced, round Sauvignon Blanc with flavors of springtime and spice.

Mauritson Family Winery, 2859 Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, (707) 431-0804,www.mauritsonwines.com, daily 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. Dutcher Crossing, 8533 Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, (707) 433-8277, www.dutchercrossingwinery.com, daily 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Honor Mansion, Healdsburg This elegant resort inn has broken new ground—in its backyard. Just past the koi pond, outdoor massage chambers, and croquet and bocce courts are four new secluded suites, nestled next to a Zinfandel vineyard planted earlier this year.

Vineyard Suite 4—the Conforto suite—is beyond comfortable, and blissfully private. The four-poster king-sized bed, wet bar, and leather-and-wood décor are pervasively luxurious. Add in the private patio with Jacuzzi and the see-through fireplace, which adds a sexy ambience simultaneously to the bedroom and the massive tub in the bathroom, and you have a romantic getaway spot in which you’ll want to wear only the room’s fluffy, soft robe all weekend long. Just remember to get over to the mansion’s gourmet dessert-for-breakfast spectacular in the morning.
The Honor Mansion, 14891 Grove St., Healdsburg, (800) 554-4667, www.honormansion.com. Vineyard Suites: $475–$550.

Les Mars, Healdsburg Staying at Les Mars, in downtown Healdsburg, is like spending the night in 19th-century France, except with much more comfortable beds. And a bathtub with a row of tiny jets inside it that make you feel like you’re soaking in Perrier.
The 18th- and 19th-century European antiques, including a Belgian wall hanging reminis­cent of the Unicorn Tapestries, are enjoyable on their own; combined with painstakingly selected toiles and brocades, the effect is deluxe.

Les Mars feels like the place to spend an anniversary weekend, or anytime you want surroundings that are pretty and romantic—even dramatic and formal. If, while you’re at it, you want to pretend you’re Josephine and your husband is Napoleon, that’s your business.
Les Mars, 27 North St., Healdsburg, (707) 433-4211 or (877) 431-1700, www.lesmarshotel.com. Rooms: $495-$995.

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