Healdsburg Tastemaker Weekend

If I catch wind that anyone has traveled to Italy or Thailand I ALWAYS ask eagerly...

Did you take a cooking class?

Did a grandma teach you her secret recipes!?!?!?!?

Photo Cred:

If the answer is yes...I start begging!

PLEASE invite me over! Teach ME everything you learned!

I want to live vicariously through them.

The idea of an expert passing on secret tips sounds right up my ally.


I no longer have to travel across the world to get this type of experience.

I had the pleasure of attending Healdsburg's Tastemaker Weekend right in my backyard!!!

An event hosted by Healdsburg's Tourism Improvement District.

Their mission is to:

Share the story of Healdsburg.

Celebrate small businesses.

Welcome all guests to experience the magic of Healdsburg.

Side Note:

I highly recommend following Stay Healdsburg on both Insta and FB!

Keep in the loop of upcoming Healdsburg events.

Trust me, if a Tastemaker Weekend is offered again grab tickets pronto.

Tastemaker Weekend was a nice change of pace for me.

I'm typically the Sonoma County local tour guide and now I get to switch roles.

Yay for being a weekend tourist!

A weekend with Healdsburg's top TASTEMAKERS.

Tastemaker: Chefs, Winemakers, Restauranteurs, Artists, Entrepreneurs, Creatives

Experiencing tastemakers in their natural habitat.

A glimpse into their creative minds.

Learning tips and tricks to WOW my friends.

I also stayed at one of Healdsburg's top hotels:

Hotel Les Mars

A staycation.

I attended three unique experiences during my weekend.

Each day I came back to my hotel room and felt completely pampered.

Here are some of my treasured memories from this fabulous weekend.

Couples At Work

I keenly observed Todd (Head Chef at Jordan) and wife Nitsa (Director of hospitality at Jordan) during my first experience of the weekend:

High Tea at Jordan Winery

You could sense this Jordan Winery power couple was a bit nervous.

Their first official High Tea service at Jordan.

Chef Todd had a bit of sweat on his brow.

Minutes before the event he suddenly remembered where he could track down a patch of chamomile. Off he went like a flash to forage this essential tea ingredient.

I also spotted him slam-dunking a handful of foraged herbs into a loose leaf tea press.

He lifted his hand up high in a 'swoosh' worthy stance.

My fiancé is NOT a tea drinker and ended up having two full cups! I was shocked.

Total slam dunk!

All the guests swooned over the caviar adorning our tea bites.

Chef Todd divulged how he used to source caviar and NOW he harvests his own.

Nitsa added her own creative touches to compliment those of her husband.

She wrapped rosemary and mint leaves in a little bundle at each of our place settings.

Back at home, she encouraged us to dip our herb bundles into hot water for a tea treat.

Nitsa inspired me to grow my own herb garden.

I too can experiment with foraged tea creations.

Then there was Krystle and Jason Jorgensen, owners of Alley 6 Craft Distillery.

Another Healdsburg power couple.

My second experience of the weekend was a mixology class at their Alley 6 Distillery.

Before we mixed up drinks, Jason divulged some behind the scene info on how Alley 6 came into existence. My favorite story was the garage sale find.

Jason spotted an antique distiller with a $200 price tag.

He begged Krystle to indulge him and buy it!

Always supporting her husband's dreams, she said yes and they ran home to get cash! Hence, a purchase that would forever change their lives.

A catalyst to kickstart their distillery business.

Krystal and Jason are a dream team.

While Jason crafts the spirits, Krystal sets the ambiance.

An interior decorator by trade.

Krystal transformed a cold Healdsburg warehouse in to a cozy pub one might see in Scotland.

Adults At Play

I observed such joy this weekend.

Adults letting loose and having blast.

At the Jordan High Tea, I sat with mother and daughter duo.

Mother in town visiting and daughter surprising her with tickets to the tea.

The two of them comparing notes on which macaroon was their favorite.

Strawberry was the clear winner.

They also discussed Nitsa's honey infused fennel.

How could they infuse their own honey at home?

There was a volunteer firefighter from Santa Cruz at Alley 6.

He escapes to Healdsburg as often as he can.

His girlfriend doesn't like the smell of whiskey.

No problem for him...he participated in the experience solo and had a blast.

I could tell he was particularly impressed by the Italian imported cherries we skewered to adorn our finished cocktail creations. Nothing he'd ever tasted. Not like the maraschino cherries from the grocery store. These cherries were special.

Also, at the Alley 6 experience I watched a table of 15 guests shake cocktail shakers like

Tom Cruise in the movie 'Cocktail'.

Men in their 50's shaking cocktails with more hip action than Shakira.

Beaming with pride as they poured their concoctions into a glass.

Leaning in to tell their wives...when we get home I'll make this for you.

Everyone was DELIGHTED to learn new cocktail tricks.

Like how to flame an orange peel!

A showstopper trick my fiancé will wow guests with at our next party.

I cracked up during my Dragon Fly Floral experience.

A group of us gals learning how to make floral arrangements.

Two middle school aged girls attended with their Grandma and mom.

They decided to turn the experience into a little competition.

Mom and Grandma vs the two of them. Who could make the best floral arrangement?

One of the girls remarked to her sister... "They are using too much color. Ours is just the right amount.' So CUTE and SO competitive!!!

Everyone's bouquet arrangements sat on a lazy-susan.

We spun our bouquets around to see where we needed to add more floral oomph.

Everyone spun their lazy-susans so I could film our masterpieces.

In a moment of excitement and pride, one gal spun her lazy-susan with a little too much gusto. We thought her floral arrangement would fly right off the table. Big laughter ensued.

Attention To Detail

Hotel Les Mars left chocolates on my pillow during turn down service.

Aromatherapy bath salts were waiting by the tub.

I indulged in a lavender bath.

Everyone needs to splurge a little extra on a weekend getaway.

Little touches like this make all the difference.

Who doesn't want to feel like a Queen for a brief moment in time?

The attention to detail at Alley 6 was off the charts.

Jason makes a Peach Liquor. My personal favorite.

He sources loads of peaches from a Dry Creek Peach Farm.

Pitting them all by hand. A labor of love.

He also forages the Sonoma Coast for Candy Cap mushrooms.

A mushroom he discovered has the aromatic essence of maple syrup.

The perfect ingredient for his bitters.

After my floral arrangement class with Pam, my neighborhood walks feel different.

I notice tree branches and foliage that would be perfect for a flower arrangement.

I see nature in color combos, textures, and offering a myriad creative possibilities.

A medium that is no longer intimidating.

Humble Beginnings

As we toured the Dragon Fly floral shop, we were introduced to an unassuming lady holding a broom. We met Bonnie, founder and owner of Dragon Fly.

The heart and soul of a very special place.

Thirty plus years ago she was a pioneer of the farm to table partnership with Healdsburg restaurants. Before farmer's market and farm-to-table popularity, Bonnie was the trendsetter of this movement.

She snuck into our floral arranging class.

Pam, our instructor, wasn't too sure if the leafy celery we were using in our arrangement was indeed edible. Bonnie knows.

A master gardener and devoted entrepreneur cares deeply about sustainability, community, and service. Bonnie walked in and confirmed that yes it was! In fact it is perfect in soups!


The overwhelming consensus was that everyone LOVED Tastemakers Weekend.

Jordan Winery admitted they weren't sure if they'd offer the tea experience again. Not because it wasn't fabulous but because they essentially stumbled upon the idea. As soon as the staff said this the room erupted. YOU MUST DO THIS AGAIN!!!!!! Someone even said... You could charge even more, I'd still come!!!

I chatted with a San Francisco magazine writer. She hadn't really explored much of Sonoma County. Her publication often sent her to Napa. I watched her tone suddenly become serious, "We need to write more about Sonoma County! I can't believe how much there is to do in Healdsburg. I wish I had one more experience left to go to today!"

Plus, a side note, my Instagram direct messages have been blowing up!

My friend Serena, "When can I come play with you in Healdsburg?"

Another follower, "Sign me up! When is this happening again?"

And another...."This would make SUCH a great birthday weekend with my girls!"

We all want an experience that takes us out of the stress, hustle, drama, and sometimes even negativity happening in the world arounds us.

An experience that allows us to escape.

We are yearning to be inspired and motivated by people following their creative dreams.

This weekend reinvigorated me.

In all seriousness...

I was in a creative rut with my Sonoma Wine Life social media.



© 2020 Sheila Jane Co.