At New Healdsburg Wine Bar, Sip Excellent Wines Until the Early Hours

Sake, Champagne and a chance to taste a 40-plus-year-old wine at Maison Healdsburg, recently opened by a trio of SingleThread alums.

Co-owners from left, Ryan Knowles, Jade Hufford, and Evan Hufford, toast together inside Maison Wine Bar in Healdsburg, Friday, June 23, 2023. (Darryl Bush / For The Press Democrat)

Given Healdsburg’s status as the epicenter of Sonoma County’s swankiest food and drink, Evan and Jade Hufford were surprised the town didn’t have a wine bar.

There were plenty of wine tasting rooms, innovative cocktail bars, a live music-fueled pub and multiple beer gardens. But a wine bar? Not since Bergamot Alley closed in 2018.

“Guests would frequently ask us if there was a wine bar in town, somewhere they could go for a late-night glass of Champagne,” said Evan Hufford, the former wine director at SingleThread, a three-Michelin starred restaurant in Healdsburg. “For a long time, the answer was ‘no.’ To be honest, we wanted a wine bar, too, a place we could go to enjoy a glass after work. So we decided to open one ourselves.”

This month, the Huffords, in partnership with friend and SingleThread alum Ryan Knowles, opened Maison Healdsburg, a wine bar and bottle shop two minutes from the square.

For the trio who left SingleThread in 2020 to bring Maison to life, the wine bar’s opening has been a long time coming, one rife with pandemic and permitting delays that lasted through 2022.

“We passed the final inspection in early June and opened the doors the very next day,” Evan said. “We had planned to let people know, turn on some lights and get more wine in the building. But there was no soft opening or waiting around. We said, let’s go!”

A passion for the coast

Maison’s founders share a passion for the elegant, nuanced wines of coastal California, which will populate a significant part of the wine list.

“We’re all fans of the wines produced along the coast, so we really want to give them a platform,” Evan said. “We absolutely love the chardonnays, pinot noirs and light, pretty syrahs that come from the Sonoma Coast, as well as the wines of Santa Barbara and Anderson Valley. They’ll be a big part of what we offer.”

Aside from California wines, the international selection will be oriented to the Champagne and Burgundy regions of France, plus Germany and Austria to create what Evan hopes will be a curated selection of some of the best wines from around the world.

“Right now, our bottle list is still in building mode as we largely focus on our by-the-glass program,” Evan said. “But eventually, we want Maison to be the kind of place where someone could come in and say, ‘Hey, I’ve never tried a South African chenin blanc,’ and we could offer them what we think is one of the best.”

With a “huge love for Old World wines,” Evan said Champagne will take up significant real estate on the wine list. Currently, Maison offers about a dozen bottles, about three to five of them available by the glass, but Hufford said he expects to carry dozens more in a variety of styles.

“Jade, Ryan and I have visited the region numerous times and developed personal relationships with some really cool Champagne producers,” Evan said. “We’ll be featuring some of their wines, as well as some special bottles we purchased early on when we thought Maison would open much sooner. The sky’s the limit in terms of how many we’ll offer.”

Old and mighty

While Maison promises to cater to a broad range of wine drinkers, the true oenophile will find much to gush over on the wine list, especially its selection of rare, old-vintage California wines.

Sourced from private wine collectors, wine brokers and auctions, the old-vintage wines are sold by the ounce, with prices starting at $10 per 1-ounce pour. Recent offerings have included a 1979 Kenwood zinfandel and a 1980 Charles Krug cabernet sauvignon.

“Prior to the 1990s, many California winemakers were trying to mimic the French style, so a lot of the wines were a little bit lighter and higher in acid,” Evan said. “Back then, many people believed California wines couldn’t age, but they aged beautifully. By offering these wines by the ounce, we give more people the opportunity to taste and enjoy the wine. That makes a lot of sense to us.”

(You can follow Maison on Instagram, @maisonhealdsburg, to keep up with which old-vintage wines are available.)

Other offerings

Playing to the owners’ shared love of sake, Maison will offer a comprehensive selection of the Japanese rice wine, both by the bottle and at the bar, where there are currently eight by-the-glass options. Some will even be paired with cheese — an unlikely, yet surprisingly delicious accompaniment to sake.

Speaking of cheese, expect a good selection at Maison thanks to Knowles’ work experience with Doralice Handal, former owner of the (now-closed) Cheese Shop of Healdsburg. Handal is back in the cheese game and now sourcing cheese for Maison.

Other food options will include caviar served with potato crisps and crème fraîche, imported tinned fish like heather honey and chamomile-smoked sardines, smoked oysters, prosciutto and other savory treats. Soon, Maison’s owners hope to offer a more substantial food selection in partnership with local chefs and restaurants.

In the meantime, there are plenty of snacks to keep visitors satisfied into the wee hours of the morning, when Maison closes at 2 a.m.

Hufford acknowledged it will take a little time to fill Maison’s large wine cellar with the 800 to 1,000 wines they hope to carry. For now, the bar’s owners are simply happy to finally welcome guests through the door, especially those in the hospitality industry looking for a post-shift glass of wine.

“There are some great bars in town, but none have the wine-forward vibe we were looking for,” Evan said. “We’re excited for Maison to fill that niche.”

Maison Healdsburg, 210 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg;, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday to Tuesday.

You can reach Staff Writer Sarah Doyle at 707-521-5478 or On Twitter @whiskymuse.