T+L scoured California's wine country to find one-of-a-kind boutiques and charming small-town stores. From Calistoga to Healdsburg, these eight spots are worth a visit.
The Shop Nearly everything at Ca'Toga Galleria D'Arte (1206 Cedar St.; 707/942-3900) is hand-painted by the prominent trompe l'oeil artist Carlo Marchiori: the folding screens, the ceramic plates—even the barrel-vaulted ceiling, done Michelangelo-style with a celestial mural. T+L Tip Marchiori lives up the road, in a Palladian villa whose seven rooms are covered in frescoes. The shop can arrange a visit ($25 per person; May-October).
The Shop The region's best source for small-scale artisanal wines, Enoteca Wine Shop (1348-B Lincoln Ave.; 707/942-1117), also carries hard-to-find producers that the proprietress, Margaux Singleton, calls unobtainia. Be sure to check out the glass cases in the back, dedicated to rare 100-point wines, so rated by industry experts like Robert Parker. T+L Tip Singleton is an expert on the area and she's happy to plot you out a customized tasting tour, gratis.
The Shop Interior designer Erin Martin spotlights an eclectic collection of furniture and objets d'art from around the globe in the loftlike Martin (1350 Main St.; 707/967-8787). A recent visit turned up Moroccan stools made of recycled tires, and vintage leather wrestling mats from Russia ("perfect headboards," she says). T+L Tip Add your name to Martin's mailing list for coveted invitations to her private warehouse sales (usually in May and October), where pieces are sold at or below cost.
Related: Insider’s Guide to Napa Valley
The Shop With white-gloved shopgirls standing behind the counter and a glittering chandelier dangling from the ceiling, Woodhouse Chocolate (1367 Main St.; 800/966-3468) resembles a fine jewelry shop—and for good reason. Master chocolatier Tracy Anderson's handmade confections, in exotic flavors like Passion Fruit and Thai Ginger, are edible gems. T+L Tip Ask for a peek at the kitchen, where Belgian machinery whirrs and delicate truffles float down conveyor belts.
The Shop Owner Jan Niemi designed more than 200 variations of the ballet slipper for her tiny boutique Flats (1232 Spring St.; 707/967-0480). An avid traveler who splits her time between California and Italy, Niemi has her shoes handmade in Tuscany ("Chanel-quality," the shop manager notes). T+L Tip Call to find out when Niemi will return from one of her many scouting trips; her souvenirs (Italian jewelry, Indian printed fabrics) are often for sale at the store.
The Shop Lisa Palmer, wife of star chef Charlie Palmer, opened Lime Stone (315 Healdsburg Ave.; 707/433-3080) next to her husband's Dry Creek Kitchen restaurant in early 2006. In addition to avant-garde pieces (chandeliers made from wine barrels, buffalo-horn bowls), you'll find basics such as the custom steak knives and table linens used in Palmer's 10 restaurants. T+L Tip Stock up on shatterproof German titanium-crystal wineglasses—they're as good as Reidel, at a fraction of the price.
The Shop Marty Murphy has lived all over the world, and her international sensibility informs the aesthetic of M Clothing (381 Healdsburg Ave.; 707/431-8738), which specializes in ethnic-inspired pieces by West Coast designers such as Rozae Nichols and Turk + Taylor. T+L Tip Call ahead and tell Murphy what you're looking for. She'll prepare a fitting room full of selections.
The Shop In a restored 1880's bungalow off Sonoma's main drag, Être Sonoma (156 E. Napa St.; 707/939-2700) stocks a sophisticated mix of cult items, from wallets by Comme des Garçons to Anichini 450-thread-count hotel linens. Around the corner, sister store Être Beauté (408 First St. E.; 707/939-7010), a small apothecary, has perfumes by Serge Lutens and Parfums Delrae. T+L Tip Être Sonoma displays a limited selection of European antiques. For more, ask to see a catalogue of the complete collection.