For a wonderful weekend getaway visit Dry Creek Valley, one of Sonoma’s premier wine regions. There are over 70 wineries and they come in all shapes and sizes, some open to the public daily, while others are by appointment. Most large tour bus companies don’t go to Dry Creek Valley which means your tasting experience is more personal with one-on-one interactions with the staff. You might even discover that the person pouring your wine is the winemaker or owner.
Driving the country roads around Healdsburg will take you past vineyards, rivers, and beautiful landscapes which may remind you of Europe. Dry Creek has warm sunny days and cool evenings, best known for Zinfandel but 40 other varietals are to be found. A weekend is not enough time to explore all of Dry Creek Valley.
Healdsburg is the heart of Dry Creek Valley, with a central plaza surrounded by restaurants, shops and bars, all in close proximity. The town has gained its’ share of notoriety with several uber gourmet restaurants including Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen and Michelin-starred Cyrus. Dine where the locals do at Bear Republic Brewing Company for artisan crafted beer and tasty snacks and Baci Café & Wine Bar, serving Mediterranean and Italian fare. There are a handful of fresh and delicious Mexican restaurants too.
There are even luxury accommodations in the heart of downtown for those who like to travel in style: Hotel Healdsburg and H2 Hotel. Both have pools, spas and restaurants on the premises. H2 provides bikes to make it easier to get around town.
For those who want luxury at an affordable price, Dry Creek Inn is the solution. The Tuscan inspired hotel offers Mediterranean courtyards with fountains, pools, sauna, Jacuzzi and steam rooms, as well as beautifully appointed rooms with balconies or patios. Enjoy a glass of wine on your patio while listening to the fountains below and watching the sunset. A complimentary breakfast is served each morning. The helpful front desk staff are happy to provide directions or free wine tasting passes to make your visit truly memorable.
The wine country is a short drive from downtown Healdsburg where you will find the greatest number of restaurants. Once you leave downtown there aren’t many places to eat near the wineries. You may want to eat a hearty breakfast or stop by Dry Creek General Store to purchase a picnic to enjoy during your day of wine tasting. Here are some of my favorite wineries:
Quivira Estate Vineyard: has a beautiful tasting room with views of the valley and beautiful grounds to explore. After sampling their wines, take a stroll through their estate and organic garden to learn about biodynamic farming. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days.
Lambert Bridge Winery: a small family owned winery is nestled between vineyards and hills in an idyllic setting. They offer a variety of tasting experiences ranging from four of their wines served in Riedel stemware to food and wine pairings. Open daily 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., groups of 8 or more require a reservation.
Mauritson Family Winery: has been growing grapes for 140 years but only recently began making their own wines. Sample their bold wines in their tasting room or purchase a bottle to savor at their inviting picnic tables. Their Sauvignon Blanc is a warm weather favorite and you should also try the Charlie Clay Pinot Noir, a collaboration with restaurant owner Charlie Palmer. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Seghesio Family Vineyards: is a third-generation grape-growing family. Sample Zinfandels and other Italian varietals in their stone tasting room. You can also have a picnic in their shaded picnic grove or try your skill at bocce ball. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Limerick Lane Cellars: experience old vine Zinfandels from estate grown grapes (from 1910) at this small production winery. Their wines consistently receive awards and once you taste them you will understand why. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Exploring the River: While you will likely have a busy schedule visiting wineries and seeking out shops and restaurants you might want to enjoy a kayak or canoe adventure on the Russian River that runs through Healdsburg. River’s Edge Kayak & Canoe Adventures can help you experience the beauty of the Russian River.
SOAR Russian River Adventures also has river trips in inflatable canoes and rafts. This is a great way to enjoy a leisurely day floating down the river.
There are several wine events during the year, the best known is Passport held in April. They allow limited numbers of visitors into the Valley and tickets go on sale February 1. It is well worth it, as wineries partner with restaurants and caterers to provide delicious food and wine pairings along with music or other entertainment.
Getting there: Dry Creek Valley is a ninety minute drive from San Francisco.
See my Slideshow: Discover Dry Creek Valley Wine Country
©Karla Erovick 2011 article
©AG Workman photos
Follow me on Twitter.
Looking for a romantic travel destination? Get inspired from over 200 articles from my travel column covering food, wine and interesting travel getaways.
Enjoy this article? Be the first to receive email alerts for new articles by this author by clicking Subscribe above. You will not be spammed and can unsubscribe at any time.