Weekend in Healdsburg: Madrona Manor and Valette Restaurant

My husband and I both love travel whether it’s a local getaway or to faraway places. So when celebrating an anniversary or a birthday, we always choose to travel as our gift to each other. Bill’s birthday this summer was no exception. We decided we would stay in Wine Country but wanted try somewhere we haven’t yet experienced – somewhere quiet, with a great location and a beautiful pool. Madrona Manor in Healdsburg seemed like the ideal place!

Many years ago when I first moved to Sonoma County, Bill took me for a drive around Dry Creek Valley, a wine region very close to the town of Healdsburg. We stopped off at Madrona Manor and walked the grounds. It is stunningly beautiful and peaceful and we both agreed someday we’d return and stay a couple nights. Well it took over 17 years but we finally did it!

Madrona Manor

Madrona Manor was built in 1881 by John Alexander Paxton, a businessman and politician. The three-story Victorian Mansion sits on 8-acres of flower and culinary gardens, mature trees, manicured lawns and vineyards.

The mansion is where 17 of the property’s 22 guest rooms can be found. It’s also where guests enjoy breakfast, which is served daily to guests of the inn. In the evening, their award-winning restaurant and lounge opens to both guests of the inn and the public.

Madrona Manor’s mansion has a spacious veranda, a rosewood piano, stately fireplace and plenty of places to sit and read a book, chat with your companion or other guests or just take in all the beautiful surroundings.

I love the sweeping vineyard and hill views of Dry Creek Valley from the mansion. You truly feel like you are away from it all when you stay at Madrona Manor.

The estate’s pool is nestled between the backside of the mansion and the culinary garden on the hill. We had a lovely time lounging by the pool and swimming, Bill’s favorite way to unwind.

School House Suite East

We stayed in one of the two School House Suites. These suites are side-by-side and were once the estate’s schoolhouse back in the 1920’s. They were remodeled to accommodate guests in 2000.

Our suite had its own private entry, a wonderful Jacuzzi tub for two, a king bed and a private deck with two lounge chairs.

In the front of the suite there is a cozy sitting room with a couch, two chairs and a coffee table, along with several antique pieces and vintage decor. A chilled bottle of local sparkling wine and a birthday card were waiting for Bill. The staff does a stellar job of making guests feel welcome and comfortable.

There is another sitting area in the bedroom in front of a fireplace. Our suite was so quiet and secluded. We just loved the peacefulness.

Here I am, heading off to Bill’s birthday dinner in downtown Healdsburg. We were experiencing hot weather during our stay at Madrona Manor, which made me so grateful for all the mature trees and air conditioning in our suite.

I stayed cool by wearing mostly shorts and bathing suit coverups while hanging around the property and at the pool. I changed into flowy summery dresses, like this floral one, when we went out.

Valette Restaurant

Valette Restaurant is the result of the lifelong dream of two brothers – Dustin Valette and Aaron Garzini – coming to fruition. Dustin and Aaron set out to create a dining experience in their hometown of Healdsburg that would showcase local farmers, producers, and winemakers.

Chef Dustin Valette has a background that includes some of the most well-known restaurants in the west such as Dry Creek Kitchen, Aqua in San Francisco, and Bouchon in Napa Valley.

Aaron Garzini, a sommelier, restaurant manager and the current general manager of Valette has a resumé that includes Rustic at Coppola and John Ash & Co.

The brothers opened Valette in downtown Healdsburg in 2015 with 47 combined years of restaurant experience and a longtime passion for Sonoma County: its food, its wine and community of farmers, artisans and purveyors.

Bill and I were excited to have his birthday dinner at Valette, especially after experiencing Chef Dustin’s phenomenal creations at a special dinner at Timber Cove Resort earlier this year.

Looking at the menu, we had a hard time deciding what to order; everything sounded so delicious and interesting! Thankfully, Valette has the “trust me” option, which is a tasting menu your server selects for you based on your likes and dislikes. We decided we’d be adventurous and let our server pick for us. We selected a lovely bottle of Pinot Noir and waited for our Valette adventure to begin!

We love the ambiance of Valette. It’s lively but relaxing, modern with a rustic touch and hip without trying too hard. Our server John was friendly, helpful and gave us just the right amount of attention.

Some of the wonderful dishes we experienced:

  • Hawaiian Ahi Poke Style with Wakame Salad, Soy Kombu Emulsion and Crispy Avocado
  • Niçoise Olive Crusted Alaskan Halibut with Early Bird Radishes, Roasted Garlic Hummus, Cherry Tomato Relish and a Parsley Emulsion
  • Day Boat Scallops en Croûte with Hidden Pond Farms Shaved Fennel, American Caviar and Champagne Beurre Blanc
  • House Made Semolina Pasta with Candied Sweet Peppers, Fava Tip Pesto and Feta Cheese
  • Crispy Skin Local Black Cod with Piquillo Pepper Gastrique, Frilled Octopus and Saffron Relish
  • Grilled Prime Rib New York Steak with Beef Fat Poached Potato Cake, Leek Salsa Verde and Green Peppercorn Butter

For dessert, I had “Bread, Butter and Jam” which consisted of a Toasted Brioche with homemade jam and Salted Brown Butter Ice Cream. And Bill, the chocolate lover, had “ItsNotA ‘Snickers Bar’” with Cocoa Nib Tuile, Peanut Powder and Locally Produced Volo Dark Chocolate.

What a feast!!

dessert at Valette Healdsburg

Bill's birthday dinner

What a relaxing, fun and delicious birthday getaway!

Madrona Manor is located at 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg. Visit their website for more information or to book your stay. Or call (707) 433-4231.

Valette Restaurant is located at 344 Center Street, Healdsburg. Visit their website for more information or to make a reservation. Or call (707) 473-0946.

Disclosure: The dinner for two at Valette Restaurant was in exchange for my review and included all food. Our stay at Madrona Manor was at our expense. All opinions expressed here are my own, as always.  


  1. Chrissy
    August 15, 2017 / 9:15 pm

    So lovely!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      August 17, 2017 / 12:06 pm

      It’s so beautiful – we had a great time!

  2. Christina
    August 17, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    I got engaged in the Madrona Manor gardens, after a lovely dinner. Such a special place.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      August 17, 2017 / 12:07 pm

      How wonderful! That is the perfect place for a proposal!

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