Choice Winetasting Wineries in Sonoma County at Healdsburg, California
Which Wineries Should You Visit?
Getting in your car and visiting wineries and their tasting rooms gets a bit repetitive. So wineries try hard to make the visual experience an “experience” as in suddenly being transported to France or elsewhere, because the bottom line is that you drive to one, get out, go in the tasting room, they do a suave sales pitch, you sip and savor, and like a tennis game, the salesperson and you trade vollies. When done, either you have bought a bottle or have not. Then, you get into the car, travel to the next one and repeat the procedure.
Of course, in between are the sights of Sonoma County, which can be eye candy in the spring and summer. After an hour or two of wine sipping, someone is probably tipsy and someone should be the Designated Driver or you will have a visitor on your car’s rear end with colorful lights and sound effects!
The truth is that there are not many wineries in Healdsburg proper, within a mile or two of the Plaza. Most require a car and are 15 minutes away in Alexander Valley or Dry Creek Valley. You can literally visit all of the tasting rooms around the Plaza area within a few hours. Visiting the actual winery is the real trip. The wineries that are within walking distance are:
Rosenblum Cellars on Center Street and Artiste Winery at 439 Healdsburg Ave. The rest are really small to large tasting rooms. The real attraction in going winetasting is the setting the winery is in, the architecture of the buildings, the gardens that surround it, the endless fields of vineyards rolling and caressing hills. So, the town of Healdsburg is really the hub from which to explore. It is not the final reason why you traveled from afar and spent zillions to get there, unless, you also want summer activities on the Russian River, Lake Sonoma, even Clearlake in Lake County ( 1hr north).
The really best wineries should include the following:
1. Ferrar-Carano-almost at the end of Dry Creek Rd and just before Lake Sonoma. This is so hard to beat. While in the area, Lake Sonoma is must see. A great place to spend your summer day.
2. Alderbrook Vineyards, 2306 Magnolia. Located in the Dry Creek Valley, it is another place that must not be missed. This 65 acre estate produces some of the best quality wines but also doubles as a perfect Healdsburg picnic spot. Very pretty with decks overlooking the grapevines.The tasting room is pretty, airy, and fairly large. There are decks overlooking the grape vines, and so this is a great place to rest and snack on crackers and cheeses.
3. Passalacqua Wineryat 3805 Lambert Bridge Rd. The Passalacqua’s were part of the early pioneers in the early 1900’s. The second and third generations are mostly attorney’s. Frank was a judge for Sonoma County Superior Court many years and feared by those who had to go before him. Currently, the Sonoma County DA is also a Passalacqua. This is among my best spots in Dry Creek. If you are going on a wine tour, be sure to save this stop for some great afternoon sun and a picnic lunch. The wines are excellent and the patio grounds are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the wonderful views.
4. Wilson Winery, 1960 Dry Creek Road. More of the usual stunning views and really good wine.
5. Simi Winery, 16275 Healdsburg Ave (this is miles from the Plaza, so drive!). Shaded by 70 yr. old redwood trees at the tasting center of Simi Winery, it creates cool picnic spaces along the creek and on their deck. Rustic and old, the main building is over 100 yrs and creates great wine. Their only problem can be poor service depending how many are doing the tasting.
6. Rodney Strong Vineyards at 11455 Old Redwood Hwy, Healdsburg, was one of the first large vineyards in the area in the 1960s. It remains a huge place, great wine, many music events are there.
7. Hanna winery, 9280 Highway 128, Healdsburg. This is in the famed Alexander Valley, north of the town itself (15 min). I like the flatness and unending rows and fields of grapes basking in the hot summer sun. I like the wine, too. It is a different vista. If you go, take your bike and cruise. Perfect for biking as you will encounter many other wineries along the same road!
8. Rochioli Vineyards & Winery, 6192 Westside Rd. More of the same, beautifully picnic areas, good wine, fantastic horizons.
9. Geyser Peak Winery, 22281 Chianti Rd, Geyserville, CA. Just 10 minutes up 101 is this 5 star infamous winery where many weddings are held. The setting for a picnic and sip wine is eye candy that you need to visit. Geyser Peak was founded in 1880, it is perched on a hillside across from Geyser Peak Mountain, this beautiful setting overlooks Geyserville, the Russian River and the northern end of Alexander Valley. As you drive on 101, you cannot miss it.
10. Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland, Ca. 13601 Old River Rd. If you really want to see some awesome country and vineyards, get in your car, drive north on 101 for 45 min, Turn right at Hopland and continue until you see signs regarding Fetzer Vineyards. Fetzer began in 1968 and is one of California’s white wine pioneers. They have great wine in such a great setting. You will also be treating yourself to some of California sights that you will remember.
11. Clearlake, Lake County. I recommend that all tourists check out Clearlake in Lake County (from Healdsburg, not more than one hour’s drive). Since you are very close (if you are at Fetzer) go to Clearlake by getting on Hwy 175, a two lane road and going east over the mountains. The road is windy so be prepared but at the top you will have awesome of views of California’s largest fresh water lake, it is like a small ocean along the extinct volcano, Mt. Konocti. Hwy 175 will merge with Hwy 29 going north. Take the Lakeport exit and stay right to the lake, or stop at the visitor center. I suggest driving around the lake along the east side. It is a great vista, gazing across this huge lake that seems to have no end. The lake is 19 miles long and 8 miles wide. The road hugs the lake along the east rim, while on the west it veers off. The lake’s age is 500,000 years. It is where many locals from the Wine Country live and play in the summer. Perfect for fishing, swimming, jet ski and water skiing. At the Mt. Konocti resort, one can rent just about anything. I recommend staying there as it offers the best accommodations for the area. They have many famous performers play concerts there also. From Lakeport, one can rent jet skis and boats. Camping is also nearby. The shoreline of the lake is 100 miles.Wineries include Guenoc and Langtry Estate Vineyards and Winery, Ployez Winery, Steele Wines, and Wildhurst Vineyards. For fishermen, there is no better place to catch Bass. In the summer, this area is hot. So expect daily temps in the 90s or more, while at night, experience the balmy 70F. It is a great escape from the much cooler temps of Healdsburg and colder nights of 50F in the summer.