Following a devastating wildfire nearby, two R&C properties are back.
Northern Sonoma County is looking like a scene from a fairy tale these days. The last days of the harvest are unfolding, with fermenting grapes creating a sweet smell in the air surrounding local wineries. At restaurants in Healdsburg and Geyserville, chefs are preparing dishes with fresh chard and squash, creating mouth-watering masterpieces on the plate. After sundown, crystal-clear skies serve as the backdrop for billions of twinkling stars; look long enough and you’re almost guaranteed to see a meteor streaking by.
Yes, this is the same region that was threatened by the raging Kincade Fire last month. And, yes, that same fire destroyed more than 140 homes and most of an historic winery as it churned through nearly 78,000 acres of a largely unpopulated area in the northeast corner of the county.
Today, however, this part of California Wine Country is back to being as beautiful and vibrant as always.
At the two Relais & Chateaux properties in the area—the award-winning Single Thread Farms, Restaurant & Inn and Hotel Les Mars—, this means that now is a wonderful time to visit and indulge.
Kyle Connaughton, Co-Owner and Executive Chef at Single Thread, which was awarded three Michelin stars earlier this year, says he and his team are welcoming guests with “open arms,” both to their property and the county overall.
“We’re back to practicing the kind of hospitality we’ve become known for,” he says, referencing the restaurant’s 11-course dinner and the five-room inn’s extraordinary lineup of amenities from local artisans and foragers. “We’ve always seen ourselves as a representation of everything Sonoma County has to offer, and that’s never been more of a reality than it is today.”
Brian Sommer, General Manager at the 16-room Les Mars, agrees.
“Everything here is as it’s always been: safe, comfortable, and incredibly luxurious,” he says. “We’ve always been a home away from home for our guests and that’s no different now.”
At Les Mars, the experience has gotten arguably even more intimate; the property recently converted its wood-paneled library into more of a sitting room, and occasionally guests can enjoy wine tastings in the new space.
The entire community of North Sonoma County has grown closer as a result of the fire and each of the Relais & Chateaux properties has assumed a leadership role. Both Sommer and Connaughton have become active participants in a group of local Healdsburg business leaders collaborating to spread the word that their town has reestablished the “normal” vibe of fabulousness.
What’s more, Bill Foley, Owner of Hotel Les Mars (as well as popular local wineries, including Chalk Hill Winery, Lancaster Estate, and Banshee Wines), donated $500,000 to three different charities dedicated to helping fire victims and the region’s recovery.
As the holidays approach, both properties will continue to play prominent roles in attracting visitors to Sonoma County.
“Wine Country is not fire country,” Connaughton said. “Life is as good as ever here. And life goes on.”