Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience 2023

The 2nd annual festival highlights the best of Sonoma County, California 


Sequels are rarely better than the original, but we found an exception with the second annual Healdsburg Food & Wine Experience (HWFE). Co-founded by Steve Dveris and Karissa Kruse, the pre-Memorial Day festival showcased local and international chefs, sommeliers, and winemakers for three days of celebration in the heart of Sonoma County, California. 

“We have long believed beautiful Sonoma County should be the location of a world class food and wine festival, and we believe it has arrived.” 
 Steve Dveris, CEO & Co-founder, Healdsburg Wine & Food

The multi-day festivities are more than just a Bacchanalia, as it has a philanthropic initiative of agricultural education and empowerment. More than 2000 attendees, 200 wineries, 40 chefs, and dozens of sponsors/partners helped raise $100,000 for the Healdsburg chapter of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), Farm to Pantry, and Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation

Violinist Rose Crelli by©️ 2023 Galdones Photography


Opening Night: Sunset in Sonoma County

The weekend officially kicked off Thursday, May 18, with a VIP welcome reception at Montage Healdsburg, where patrons were greeted to caviar bumps in one hand and a glass filled with champagne in the other. Violinist Rose Crelli’s musical aperitif during the golden hour helped set the tone for an evening of fine wine provided by Jackson Family Wines and culinary delights from famed local chefs Tracey Shepos, Crista Luedtke, Duskie Estes, and Domenica Catelli. 

Day 2: Friday Is About the Cuisine

Chef Matt Horn

Locals and visitors were ready to begin their HWFE “Fri-yay” with cuisine from award-winning chefs from around the world. Day two started at Dutton Ranch with Food & Wine’s Best New Chef winner, Matt Horn, serving up what he calls “West Coast BBQ,” which is a fusion of Texan and Black Southern techniques. Many found it difficult not to overindulge in fare from Horn Barbecue, so it was fortunate that a private vineyard tour of Dutton was scheduled after lunch. Learning more about the property while walking through the vineyard with wine in hand is a great way to spend an afternoon. Not to mention the calories burned!

“Cooking at Healdsburg Wine & Food is nothing short of a culinary adventure, providing an invaluable opportunity to not only present my own creations, but also learn from some of the most talented wine makers and culinary innovators in the industry. The festival is a stunning mélange of flavors, ideas, and inspirations, and being a part of it is both humbling and exhilarating.” 

 Matt Horn, Owner of Horn Barbeque, Oakland, CA

Other Friday highlights included:

Day 3: Saturday in the Park

Over 100 wineries from Sonoma County, Napa Valley, and other famous international wine regions converged in downtown Healdsburg for the Vintners Plaza Grand Tasting Experience. Connoisseurs wove through multiple tents in West Plaza Park, planning out a wine line-up for the 4-hour main event. Some started with sparkling wine or champagne, others went right for the reds, while many started with a classic Chardonnay. Regardless of how they started, wine lovers paired their wines with smiles by the end. 

During the grand tasting, attendees had the option to head over to The Matheson for several celebrity chef demonstrations. The owner of The Matheson, Dustin Valette, and host Liam Mayclem engaged spectators as chefs Joe Sasto, Viet Pham, Stephanie Izard, and Maneet Chauhan prepared dishes and answered questions from the audience. 

Other Weekend Highlights included: 


  • Saturday Night concert with live music from award-winning country duo, Maddie & Tae, hosted by Rodney Strong
  • Magnum party at Bacchus Landing featuring large format wines from the world’s top producers, paired with the sounds of deejay Jason Lede of Cliff Lede Vineyards. 
  • Zinfandel Live Wine Experience at Villa Chanticleer. 
  • Brunch at The Madrona, featuring chef Stephanie Izard.
  • Chalkboard Community Brunch sponsored by the Foley Family Charitable Foundation.


“It’s wonderful to have the team from Food & Wine bring their first festival to Sonoma Wine Country! We have been involved from the first year, and this was even better. Everyone seems to be excited to enjoy world class wine and food in the most exciting place in California wine country–Healdsburg!”

Jesse Katz, Founder and Winemaker, Aperture Cellars


About Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience (HWFE)

A central part of the Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience’s mission is to support the rich local agricultural culture of Sonoma County, including celebrating the farmers and farmworkers—those who sustain the region’s deep legacy of viticulture and culinary excellence. Through their care and passionate diligence in growing high-quality ingredients, great food and wines are made possible. Through the lens of community, sustainability, and culinary diversity, HWFE is committed to making an impact here and beyond.

HWFE returns for May 16 -19, 2024. Visit https://www.healdsburgwineandfood.com/ to learn more. 

Noël Burgess

Noël Burgess is an East Coaster living in Northern California wine country. His goal is to promote diversity and inclusion in wine, food, and travel with a focus on the places, the products, and most importantly, the people! Noels work can be found in VinePair, Wine Enthusiast, Travel & Leisure, Thrillist, San Francisco Magasine, and many other media platforms. Follow him on Instagram @mrnoelburgess and at noelburgess.com.