Wine Nirvana

I just returned from an incredible weekend in Healdsburg with a group of girlfriends - a couple of which I've known since high school or an unmentionable number of years, all coming together to celebrate a birthday and celebrate we did.

This particular area of the wine country is arguably one of my favorite places on earth, so I'm a bit biased. But when I stumbled upon this place, I found a new reason to celebrate and I definitely agree with this headline in Food & Wine Magazine -  Medlock Ames Winery IS nirvana in Sonoma.

Everything about it is über hip but with a small-town vibe firmly intact. A virtual feast for the wine/food/design lover that I am. We had the pleasure of a private tasting in the "speakeasy" portion of the tasting room, the original location of the century-old Alexander Valley General Store, and by the time it was over I was ready to move in.

A low production winery, fewer than 5000 cases per year, deep-seated in organic and sustainable practices with style and good taste at every turn. A few of the highlights include: they pair their tastings with Bellwether Farms cheeses and homemade chutneys, they churn out 50+ hand-crafted pizzas from their wood-burning oven every Saturday, they make good use of the fresh ingredients from the breathtaking grounds and gardens in artisan cocktails, oils and preserves and the wine is good, very good.

I'm a new fan of their 2009 Chardonnay - "Balanced by minerality, this is a wine of great structure and poise."

Here are a few more reasons to love this place. You have not lived until you've tried the hot Chicken Gruyere sandwich at Oakville Grocery - grilled chicken, prosciutto, hot and gooey cheese, caramelized onions and Dijonnaise on a toasted, sourdough baguette. If you're out wine tasting at lunchtime, swing by Jimtown and try one of their hot signature sandwiches with prosciutto, blue cheese and this fig & olive spread.

I blogged about this place last year and it's still hopping - especially our very capable and cheery waiter Joe. He introduced me to this wine - my second new favorite chardonnay.

The shopping just gets better and better - unique jewelry, clothing and housewares shops line the square. Studio Barndiva was open for browsing rather than closed for a private event - love that gallery and the restaurant too.

And luckily the treatments at the Spa at Hotel Healdsburg have a way of getting better. I discovered some yummy new products on this visit that "extend the spa experience" - the Meyer lemon and sage shampoo and lavender, jasmine and blood orange conditioner are to die for.

Ahhhh...nirvana indeed.