When summer dishes out another cold, foggy day in the city, the best thing to do is head north. Add in wine and you’ve got a winning combination in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. Here's our recommended itinerary:
Dry Creek Valley is known for Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc, but you’ll find plenty other varieties including, but not limited to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Barbera and Viognier.
Dutcher Crossing Winery
Quivira Vineyards and Winery
If you’re trying to hit a handful of wineries during your day in the Dry Creek Valley, be forewarned Quivira Vineyards and Winery is an itinerary breaker. Budget extra time here, you’ll want it. This organic and Biodynamic winery is bursting through its vineyards with all sorts of unexpected extras. Proceeds from the community garden are donated to charity, there are buzzing beehives, 50-plus chickens, Ruby the resident pig, and an ongoing project to restore Wine Creek and revitalize the Coho salmon population. Quivira’s Estate Experience tour runs April through October, weather permitting. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve learned in 90 minutes, when you sit down for the included tasting. $20, reservations can be made online. You’ll be traipsing through a working farm, so wear good shoes that are ok to get dirty.
If you just can’t spare time for the full tour, wander a little on your own then head into the tasting room. $10.
Ruby and some adopted youngsters who found their way to Quivira Vineyards
Taste what six generations of farming can do at Mauritson. The family was growing 4,000 acres in the early 1960s when all but 700 acres were taken by the Army Corps of Engineers to develop Lake Sonoma. Many of the vineyards shown in family photos are now under water, but the grassy area outside the tasting room is a great place to sip wine on a sunny day. A tasting flight is $10.
Dutcher Crossing Winery
There’s a relaxed feeling to Dutcher Crossing Winery. Visitors are encouraged to walk through the vineyards and bring a picnic lunch. If you run into Dutchess, a loving Golden Lab adopted from Taiwan, winery owner Debra Mathy isn’t far behind. Tasting flights are $10 on weekends, $5 on weekdays.
Underground at Fritz Winery
Fritz Underground Winery
Built into the side of a hill, Fritz Underground Winery uses its unique subterranean design to its full energy saving advantage. Along with naturally cool temperatures, the three level design allows gravity to do a great deal of work. The only time pumps are used with the wine is to get it into bottles. Underground Cave Tours are offered on Saturday and Sunday by appointment. Call at 707.894.3389 to book. Tasting flights $10-$15.
Dry Creek Valley is about 70 miles north of San Francisco in northern Sonoma County. About 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean, typical summer days include temperatures in the mid-80s allowing grapes to fully ripen. Evenings can cool dramatically thanks to coastal cold air and fog which also means the grapes mature slowly.
If You’re Debating
Still undecided about where to go? Head to the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley Interactive Winery Map. With the click of a mouse it will search and map wineries by all sorts of amenities like pet friendliness and bocce ball. You can also search by wine variety.
Dana can be found on Twitter @drebmann
Dana’s visit was organized by the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.