It’s that time of year again when around 2,000 winos and foodies pay thousands of dollars each to flock to our little town for the four-day Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience — a procession of fancy meals, tastings, parties and hangouts, starting next Thursday, May 16, and running through Sunday, May 19. The event is now in its third year. And in the words of Forbes magazine: “The first time is a point, the second time is a line, and by the third time it’s a pattern.” The event is now “a must-visit for any serious food and wine aficionado,” Forbes writes. It has also become a boon for the local orgs that get some of the outside money pouring in — including Healdsburg’s FFA chapter, the local Farm to Pantry food-justice nonprofit and the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation. Unique to the festival’s schedule this year are events like a “Bollywood culinary dance celebration” at La Crema Winery and a “wine-down pool party” on Sunday at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. A bunch of the events are sold out already, but for any locals looking to dabble, there are still $175 tickets left for the pool party at Coppola, along with the following events: a $125 happy hour at Lo & Behold on Friday, where all the “best bartenders” from Healdsburg’s bar and restaurant scene will show off their skills; a couple of $150 seminars at the Bacchus Landing wine-tasting collective on Friday, where some big-name wine experts and journalists will pass around their favorite wines and champagnes; an $85 concert by Mississippi blues legend Kingfish at Rodney Strong on Friday night; a “trade seminar” for wine-industry insiders at Marine Layer’s plaza tasting room on Saturday morning; a $125 tequila tasting at Lo & Behold, also on Saturday morning (for the bold pre-noon drinkers among us!); Guy Fieri’s annual “magnum party” and Maui fundraiser at The Matheson on Saturday night; and a Sunday lunch at J Vineyards called “Shifting the Lens,” where James Beard nominee and reality TV star Chef Tu David Phu will showcase his personal take on Vietnamese cuisine. Oh and of course there’s the main event, the “crown jewel” of the festival, all Saturday afternoon: the “Vintners Plaza Grand Tasting,” which isn’t actually held in the plaza anymore but in the West Plaza parking lot, where the farmers market usually runs on Saturdays. (So the market will get to use the actual plaza next Saturday.) Tickets are available on the festival’s website. (Source: Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience & Healdsburg Tribune & Forbes & Press Democrat & Haute Living San Francisco)

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Simone Wilson was born and raised in Healdsburg, CA, where she was the editor of the Healdsburg High School Hound's Bark. She has since worked as a local journalist for publications in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City and the Middle East. Simone is now a senior product manager and staff writer for the Healdsburg Tribune.


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