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Walnut Creek Magazine

Wine Country Bliss at Healdsburg's Madrona Manor

Jul 05, 2018 05:19PM ● By Fran Miller

BY FRAN ENDICOTT MILLER

Visitors to Healdsburg have many choices for an overnight stay, from luxurious boutique inns, to sleek and modern hotels, to charming B&Bs. Dining choices also abound: Healdsburg Plaza-adjacent pizzerias, farm-to-table-centric bistros, and celebrity-chef chophouses suit all palates. But there’s one spot in this idyllic Sonoma County town where sumptuous wine country lodging and a Michelin-starred restaurant reside under one roof. It’s Madrona Manor, and it’s fabulous.

Located just beyond the central part of town on Westside Road at the entrance to Dry Creek Valley, Madrona Manor is Healdsburg’s grand dame hotel. Rich in history, the rooms in the main building and cottages, the varied dining rooms, and the gardens pay proper homage to the property’s former heritage while incorporating sought-after modern amenities. Beds with ornately carved period headboards feature fine Italian linens. Foyers feature Nespresso coffee makers. The gracious, garden-adjacent pool is heated to 80 degrees and is surrounded by luxe loungers. An ancient on-site citrus grove yields the oranges that are squeezed fresh each morning at breakfast.

Originally built as a private home in 1880, Madrona Manor has been owned by Healdsburg residents Bill and Trudi Konrad since 1999. The two have painstakingly renovated the entire property while maintaining its original Victorian elegance. Several large furniture pieces are original to the home’s initial owners, the Paxton family, and Trudi constantly keeps an eye out for authentic decorative pieces.

22 rooms, each styled in period detail, are scattered throughout the main building, the carriage house, and three other small buildings. Each offers valley or garden views. Rooms 203 and 202, for instance, located in the Historic Mansion, are spacious and elegant, with furnished terraces that overlook Dry Creek Valley and the mountains beyond. Jewel-toned antique settees and chairs, gas-lit fireplaces, and historic fruit and botanical prints line the walls. Free-standing claw footed bathtubs are punctuated with fluffy white towels and plush robes.

Madrona Manor is a favored wedding location, and a walk through the garden reveals why. Rivers of impatiens surround a large green lawn, near which a fountain trickles with the refreshing sound of flowing water. A variety of succulents savor the sun, as does the nearly 1-acre hillside vegetable and herb garden that supplies the Restaurant at Madrona Manor. Executive Chef Jesse Mallgren can often be found there gathering ingredients for menu items that he’ll create based on the day’s harvest – squash blossoms, for instance, which will be stuffed with goat cheese and placed over a small stack of freshly picked green beans. Or pea shoots which will accompany a tasty and tender slice of Japanese Wagyu.

Diners at the Restaurant are seated in one of two peach-colored dining rooms with crystal chandeliers overhead. Soft music – Latin guitar – further sets a mood of relaxed elegance. On balmy nights, the large Palm Terrace (above) that overlooks the gardens is utilized for al-fresco dining. Whether selecting from the a la carte or five-course tasting menu, Mallgren treats every guest to his signature smoked egg, presented in a glass vitrine under which a smoky haze swirls. It’s as visually mesmerizing as it is delicious. 

         Bulgarian Osetra caviar

For a wide variety of flavors, the tasting menu is the way to go. (This choice requires the entire dining party’s participation, for the purpose of kitchen pacing.) Each course offers a choice – Hokkaido Scallop Crudo, for instance, or the Bulgarian Osetra Caviar? King Salmon, or Ricotta Gnocchi. Make sure you and your dining partners order differing items – and share - in order to get the full flavor of Mallgren’s genius. You’ll quickly understand how and why he’s earned the Restaurant at Madrona Manor its tenth consecutive Michelin star. Splurge and add wine pairings to further elevate your meal. MV Flaunt Brut enhances your caviar, and Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon pairs perfectly with your Wagyu. 

In the morning, the food fest continues with a bountiful European buffet breakfast – included with your stay. Enjoy lox and bagels, scrambled eggs, assorted meats and cheeses, or make your own waffle. The choices provide just the right amount of nourishment to kick-start your day. Will you stroll the boutiques flanking the Plaza? Hit some of the renowned Dry Creek wineries for a day of tasting? Or simply relax at Madrona Manor’s lovely pool? Madrona Manor makes the perfect home base for all of the above.