Healdsburg, a town renowned for its eclectic offering of all the finest things in life… food, wine, friends and fun. Healdsburg is the belle of the trendy wine country ball who prefers to be out in the vineyards sampling zinfandel on the vine.
Take a stroll around Healdsburg and discover the treasures and treats of small town individuality that make it so special. Healdsburg is surrounded by several of Northern California's finest regional wine appellations, including Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley. Centrally located to over 100 world class wineries and tasting rooms, Healdsburg is the ideal place to discover all the best that Sonoma County wine country has to offer.
Explore beyond the central downtown Plaza and you’ll find incredible hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, redwoods, rowboats and hot air balloons for aerial views of it all.
- Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce
The house at 68 Front St. was built by Adna Phelps, who moved to San Francisco shortly after completing it in 1875. The second resident was a young ambitious French winemaker named Georges de Latour, who never quite found his place in Sonoma county. Instead, he soon moved to Napa to found Beaulieu in 1900, which still brands their premium cabernet with his name.
Giuseppe Simi bought the house in 1897. By 1904, when the Simi brothers died, they were among the most successful wine makers in California, producing over half a million gallons of wine from their 400 Healdsburg acres. Four years later, when Isabelle Simi Haigh and her husband took it over, they continued to successfully manage it until Prohibition came in 1920.
While other winemakers were intimidated into pouring their finished wine into the streets, the Simi’s held onto their bottled wines for 14 years -- some say they continued making wine -- believing that someday the market would return and their holdings would prove valuable.
Simi’s success continued for decades, their tasting room a well-known tourist stop on what became Highway 101 and the wines continued to lead the way in the post-Prohibition resurgence. She became an even-more colorful and outspoken woman, wearing a signature vest decorated with political and other buttons, speaking her mind and sharing the stories of a lifetime in wine. She continued to live in the house at 68 Front St. until she passed, in 1981.
In 2011, Thomas Phillip Bangs, an architect/builder from the Sierra Foothills was searching for a property along the Russian River when he came upon the “faded painted lady”. He was so enchanted at the history and the possibility of the project; he immediately began the process of acquiring the land with the home and developing The River Belle Inn. Keeping Isabelle's memory and historical footprint was very important to him. He wanted to honor the legacy of such a strong woman and important member of the community and wine industry.
Cited: Kallen, Christian. "A Grand Old House with a Story to Tell". Healdsburg Patch. 2011. Online.
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