The Press Staff Pick

Zinfandel Tasting Tour

Travel the trails of Dry Creek Valley and experience California's heritage grape

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Dry Creek Valley’s diverse tinkerings with Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Rhone varieties and -- most of all -- Zinfandel offer a simultaneously laid-back and  exciting, route for the Wine Country visitor. Tiny by American Viticultural Area (AVA) standards, Dry Creek Valley is longer (16 miles) than it is wide (2 miles), bisecting both the Russian River and Lake Sonoma.

Dry Creek Road, running parallel to the eponymous tributary, is the main thoroughfare connecting this area’s wineries to downtown Healdsburg. If you cross over the creek at Lambert or Yoakim bridges, you’ll find yourself on West Dry Creek Road -- where the speed limits are slower, and the turns windier. You’re more likely to encounter bicycle traffic than tour-bus traffic. Virtually all wineries are open without appointments. It’s a reminder that not all of Wine Country has been mined for tasting fees.

I’d be remiss to direct you to the area without imploring you to stop at the Dry Creek General Store: for a coffee and blueberry scone (or cinnamon bomboloni) in the morning or a sandwich at lunchtime. Overpriced Sonoma County memorabilia notwithstanding, the Store offers a palette of local colors not likely to be glimpsed in the boutiques and bistros of downtown Healdsburg. It’s classic Dry Creek. – Esther Mobley