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I last reported on California’s wine country in May 2013, but recent research uncovered some potential new properties in the north of the state, sufficient to convince me that a return visit would be worthwhile. I didn’t need to consider this at great length. With its coastal vistas, historic sites, charming towns, stands of redwoods and the unspoiled Anderson Valley wine area, I find the region hard to resist.
From San Francisco we headed north to Healdsburg, a place I have visited regularly for more than 30 years. In that time, I have seen it grow from a quiet agricultural town into a lively and cultivated place with restaurants, shops, wine-tasting rooms and galleries. (How many towns of 12,000 nowadays support two fine independent bookstores?)
Healdsburg Plaza has earned deserved accolades as one of the most beautiful town squares in the country, with a copper-roofed gazebo, fountains and more than 15 varieties of trees, including Canary Island date palms planted in 1897. Just a block away from the plaza’s northeast corner, on North Street, we found SingleThread Farms, a restaurant and five-room inn (with a nearby five-acre farm).
SingleThread is the fulfillment of a dream for Kyle and Katina Connaughton. Kyle spent years cooking on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, at Michel Bras TOYA Japon. (Bras is a three-star chef best known for his restaurant Le Suquet, near Laguiole, in southern France.) There Kyle met British chef Heston Blumenthal, who offered him a position at his three-star restaurant, The Fat Duck, near London. The Connaughtons made the move to England, where Kyle developed recipes and Katina worked on a farm. In 2011 they decided to open a place of their own and settled on Healdsburg. SingleThread Farms debuted in December 2016.
Occupying a former post office, the building is easy to miss. On arrival, you first see the kitchen, with its gleaming cookware and shelves stocked with donabe, the classic Japanese ceramic cooking pots (on which Kyle published a splendid book in 2015). We had opted to take the inn’s only suite. There we found a wall of windows running the entire length of the room. With high beamed ceilings, white brick walls and wooden floors, the 700-square-foot contemporary space comprised a lounge with a gas fireplace, a semi-separate sleeping area with a long balcony and a large bath with heated floors, double vanities, a soaking tub and a walk-in shower.