Living in Healdsburg
Thousands of years ago, this beautiful, lush area we call Healdsburg was home to the Pomo Indians. These early residents built their villages in the open, fertile valleys along the Russian River. They hunted the elk, bears, and mountain lions that roamed the dense oak and madrone forests along the meandering River. Occasional visits of European sailing vessels on the California Coast from the 1500's to early 1800's had little impact on our area.
The Gold Rush Years
The mid-1800's, however, brought new settlers. The Russians built Fort Ross on the coast, and the Mexican government established the vast 48,800-acre Rancho Sotoyome here. This enormous land grant was awarded to sea captain Henry Delano Fitch in 1841. Fitch promptly hired trapper Cyrus Alexander to manage his bountiful rancho; the magnificent Alexander Valley is named for this early tenant. The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought itinerants, squatters, and failed miners to the more generous farming land here. Over the year, these squatters settled on the verdant land owned by the Fitch family. In 1857 a fight named the "Westside Road Wars" commenced among the squatters. One of the winners of this colorful "conflict" was Harmon Heald, an Ohio entrepreneur.
Harmon constructed a store and post office in what is now downtown Healdsburg. He then carefully laid out a town grid and sold lots for the heady price of $15 each. Harmon saw a grand plan for the village that would be his namesake, and plotted a town complete with a central Spanish-style Plaza. Our thriving, hospitable Plaza remains one of the few examples of early California town planning in existence today.
City Comes To Life
Officially incorporated in 1867, young Healdsburg prospered. Residents quickly constructed all the necessities of city life, a City Hall, landscaped Plaza, water mains, bridges, offices - even a Public Library. The long-awaited arrival of the Northwestern Pacific Railway in 1871 brought increased commerce and success.
Today, our Plaza plays host to Summer concerts, lively events and picnics. The Museum features fine examples of Pomo basketry, and the Public Library is home to the county's Wine Library. In the River called "Ashokawna" by the Pomos, the current residents and visitors fish, canoe, swim and play.
We think you'll find Healdsburg as desirable and pleasing a place to live as our early residents did.
What is the best time of year to visit Healdsburg?
The ‘best’ time to visit is usually a personal preference. Our most popular time of year to visit is June through October, and especially during the grape harvest in September/October.
What is the weather like in the Healdsburg area?
Healdsburg sits in the middle of 3 valleys. Each valley's weather varies slightly, creating the perfect temperatures and settings for different varietals. Temperatures can drop just below freezing during the rainy winter months; in the summertime, coastal fog and breezes bring cool evenings even after very warm days. In other parts of the area the numbers can vary: in Guerneville, for example, breezes off the Pacific Ocean keep temperatures as much as 10 to 15 degrees cooler than in Healdsburg.
Below are the high and low temperatures and rainfall for the city of Healdsburg in 2009.
- January – High 73.9 °F, Low 27.0 °F, Rainfall 0.58”
- February – High 74.2 °F, Low 29.3 °F, Rainfall 11.17”
- March – High 84.5 °F, Low 28.4°F, Rainfall 3.75”
- April – High 98.5 °F, Low 31.8 °F, Rainfall 0.61”
- May – High 100.2 °F, Low 40.6 °F, Rainfall 1.77”
- June – High 104.6 °F, Low 49.2 °F, Rainfall 0.00”
- July – High 104.6 °F, Low 42.6°F, Rainfall 0.00”
- August – High 106.0 °F, Low 44.5 °F, Rainfall 0.00”
- September – High 105.4 °F, Low 44.5 °F, Rainfall 0.16”
- October – High 87.2 °F, Low 37.6 °F, Rainfall 3.69”
- November – High 84.7 °F, Low 30.3 °F, Rainfall 0.91”
- December – High 68.8 °F, Low 19.2 °F, Rainfall 3.05”
Are there any restaurants at wineries?
Wineries in the Healdsburg area typically do not have restaurants on site. There are a number of wineries that have pre-made picnic and/or deli items available. Many wineries are happy to have visitors use their picnic facilities.
How late are wineries open for tasting?
Wineries and tasting rooms are generally open between 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM and close between 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM. Many wineries stop pouring wine one half hour before the tasting room closes.
Are Wineries open on holidays?
It depends on the winery or tasting room, but most wineries are open year round with the exception of major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Years Day, and Easter Sunday. Wineries may have limited hours the day before a major holiday or on nationally recognized holidays such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. Some may also have shorter hours in the winter season.
What are the nearest Airports? Drive time is approximate.
- Sonoma County Airport (STS) - 10 mi - 15 mins
- San Francisco International (SFO) - 83 mi - 1 hour 45 mins
- Oakland International (OAK) - 83 mi - 1 hour 30 mins
- Sacramento International (SMF) - 123 mi - 2 hours 15 mins
Are there any lodging properties that don’t require a two-night minimum?
Most properties require a two-night minimum on weekends and during our busy season (April – October). Properties may require a 3-night minimum stay on holiday weekends.
When is the grape harvest?
The grape harvest generally begins in August with the light-skinned grapes such as Chardonnay and ends in late September or October with the dark-skinned grapes such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvest is dependant on summer weather patterns and the sugar content (called a Brix count) of the grapes themselves.
What is ‘Crush’?
Crush is the term used to describe the process of wine grapes being crushed to release their juice. The term is also used to describe the harvest season.
Distances to other destinations - (drive time is approximate)
- Geyserville - 8 mi – 10 mins
- Cloverdale - 18 mi – 20 mins
- Guerneville - 18 mi – 30 mins
- Napa - 49.2 mi – 1 hour 10 mins
- San Francisco - 70 mi – 1 hour 30 mins
- Oakland - 73 mi – 1 hour 30 mins
- Sacramento - 120 mi – 2 hour 15 mins
- Eureka - 203 mi – 3 hours 45 mins
- South Lake Tahoe - 211 mi – 4 hours 30 mins
- Yosemite National Park - 250 mi – 5 hours 30 mins
- Los Angeles - 442 mi – 7 hours 30 mins
- Las Vegas, NV - 624 mi – 10 hours 30 mins
More than twenty fine art galleries are scattered throughout the town and feature local artists. Intricate glassware, singular pieces of jewelry, paintings and photographs all reflecting the California and Sonoma County lifestyle. Year-round shows and special events keep the creative juices flowing.
Performing Arts Groups
The historic 500-seat Raven Theater hosts musical artists, comedy troupes, performance artists, and a myriad of other performers ranging from internationally renowned artists to community groups. The theater is home to the Raven Players acting troupe.
Healdsburg Center for the Arts
Healdsburg Center for the Arts is a non-profit, community gallery and arts center dedicated to enriching the artistic life of the community through art classes for youth and adults, gallery shows and social events, and support of local school art programs. Not only do they showcase local artists (nearly 100 artists exhibited in the past year), but also provide financial, facilities and volunteer support to the area schools. Healdsburg Center for the Arts is much more than a gallery. Their support extends to music, drama and literary arts as well as to visual arts education programs. They now have four well-established annual fundraising events, each of which provides direct financial support to the local schools. Apart from their financial goals, they seek to present unique events to enhance the artistic life of the community. A great example is Opera in the Garden. They are proud to have been able to attract professional opera singers this far north of the city. In addition to having established a strong financial base, they are proud of having developed an all-volunteer organization with nearly 60 dedicated volunteers. The Board feels a strong sense of responsibility to their supporters for effective financial stewardship. For this reason, they publish an annual financial report, which is available to all who would like a copy. firstname.lastname@example.org
Our historic downtown Plaza has always been enjoyed and used as an event and performance site. Families pack a picnic and attend the Tuesdays in the Plaza, 6-8pm throughout the balmy summer. There's something for every musical taste: Latin, Jazz, Big Band sounds, Rhythm and Blues, and Cajun. Art exhibits through the summer and the annual Soroptomist Beer Fest in October also make use of the Plaza.
Founded in 1976, The Healdsburg Museum is housed in the refurbished former Healdsburg Carnegie Library building. This beloved local landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Just a short walk from the Plaza, the Museum houses an impressive range of artifacts and documents related to northern Sonoma County history. Some outstanding examples include Pomo Indian basketry, nineteenth century weapons, tools, textiles and crafts. An extensive archival library includes 8000 original photographs. Special exhibits change about three times a year. The ever-popular annual toy and doll exhibit during the Christmas season is designed to delight children and the young-at-heart.
Healdsburg Jazz Festival
The Healdsburg Jazz Festival is a celebration of the indigenous American art form known as Jazz. Over the past decade-plus, the Healdsburg Jazz Festival has become a favorite local tradition with a growing national reputation. This 10-day festival of public performances by world-renowned musicians in diverse settings, including the historic Raven Theater, the glamorous Hotel Healdsburg, and several boutique restaurants and wineries, has grown into one of the North Bay’s most celebrated annual musical events.
Healdsburg is home to professional and established ballet, ethnic and jazz-tap dance troupes, such as Healdsburg Ballet, and Aire Flamenco.