The well-heeled Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, with its winning combination of rural charm and world-class food and wine, has long been a go-to getaway for those seeking laid-back sophistication with a stunning vineyard backdrop. On May 20–22, renowned chefs, winemakers, and other artisans will converge on Northern California wine country’s buzziest destination for the Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience—California’s newest international festival.
The three-day event will feature 30 celebrated chefs—from Crista Luedtke of boon eat + drink in Guerneville to Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish in Los Angeles—showcasing their talents at multiple venues through intimate tastings, seminars, cooking demonstrations, and farm-to-table lunches. Renowned winemakers will pour more than 100 wines from top growing regions, including Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Washington State, Italy, Spain, and Australia.
The event is already generating plenty of excitement in foodie circles and attendance is limited for some events. Packages range from $65 for “à la carte” experiences to $3,700 for the Ultra VIP Package. Healdsburg residents get a $50 discount on the Grand Tasting, reducing the ticket price to $150.
“Healdsburg has always been one of my favorite places in wine country,” says festival founder and CEO Steve Dveris, who has also worked with the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and Pebble Beach Food & Wine. “Oddly, an international food and wine event like this has never happened before in California wine country.”
Participating chef Dustin Valette, owner of The Matheson and Valette restaurants in Healdsburg, says he is thrilled to see an event of this caliber taking place in his own backyard. “I grew up here in Healdsburg and have always felt this area is truly the best place on earth,” he says. “The community, the amazing wine that is produced here, and now to be acknowledged for our culinary pedigree is astonishing.”
In keeping with Healdsburg’s relaxed-yet-refined vibe, the festival will include a mix of high-end and down-to-earth experiences. Rather than limiting the spotlight to famous chefs and winemakers, the event will also showcase farmers, grape growers, and vineyard managers.
“The theme of our event is agriculture and farming,” Dveris says, “so we want to honor what we call the makers behind the magic—the ones who literally produce great food and wine from the ground.”
Giving back to the community is also an important element of the festival. A portion of sponsorship and ticket proceeds will go to the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation, which helps farmers and farm workers in times of crisis, as well as the Future Farmers of America’s Healdsburg chapter.
Here is a preview of some key events for the inaugural Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience.
Vintners Plaza Grand Tasting: The weekend’s main event showcases incredible food crafted by 12 acclaimed chefs, plus more than 100 wines from Sonoma, Napa, and beyond. Tickets include the Sips-N-Sliders event at Healdsburg Bar & Grill with Top Chef Masters winner Douglas Keane and award-winning chef Viet Pham.
VIP Celebrity Chef Culinary Demonstrations: Throughout the day, The Matheson hosts cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs including Food Network star Maneet Chauhan; Top Chef fan favorite Nyesha Arrington; Stephanie Izard, chef/owner of Girl & the Goat in Los Angeles, and more. Top sommeliers will guide guests in choosing perfect wine pairings for the featured dishes.
Climate Change & Sustainability Seminar: Experts from the wine, food, and travel industries join Massican winemaker Dan Petroski to discuss the earth-friendly practices they’re using in their businesses to promote sustainability and combat climate change. Panelists also share tips for making mindful choices at home to support the health of the planet.
VIP Vineyard Truck Tours + Dutton Ranch BBQ: Hop into a pickup truck with a local vineyard owner or grape grower for a curated down-to-earth adventure. Walk the host’s vineyards, touch the soil, and learn about the wines’ journey from grape to glass. Afterward, participants from the day’s tours gather at Dutton Ranch for a down-home barbecue lunch featuring Tim Love, the “Texas Cowboy Chef.”
Live Fire BBQ with Matt Horn: Matt Horn, pitmaster for Oakland’s Horn Barbecue, is going whole-hog for this casual `cue-and-wine feast at The Matheson. A fundraiser for the Healdsburg High School Future Farmers of America (FFA), the meal features a whole pig raised by an FFA student.