Whether you’re a new fan of Dry Creek Valley wines or a long-time fan planning your first in-person visit, our Dry Creek 101 itinerary is a perfect place to start. Spend a couple of days visiting the five stops on this itinerary, and you’ll come away with a broad understanding of the Dry Creek Valley appellation in terms of history, microclimate, geography, and the grapes that thrive here.
The Dry Creek 101 Itinerary
Begin your immersive tour at Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs, one of Dry Creek Valley’s most famous wineries. Ridge Vineyards is not only a treasure to Dry Creek Valley, but to California’s rich winemaking history.
The brand was first formed in the 1940s by theologian William Short and several Stanford Research Institute engineers. Ridge owned vineyards that were planted in the 19th century, and they made some of the state’s first fine wines of the 20th century. In 1964, Ridge Vineyards began producing single vineyard zinfandels, to add to the cabernet sauvignon for which they were known. After sourcing grapes from the Lytton Springs Vineyard for 25 years, the brand bought this historic site in 1991 and opened their Dry Creek Valley estate property. Surrounded by amazing 115-year-old vines, Lytton Springs Winery is eco-sustainable, built from straw bales and vineyard clay. Though Ridge Vineyards began making wine in the 20th century, their winemaking approach has always been “pre-industrial,” emphasizing nature and tradition. Dry Creek Valley is regarded as a benchmark in premium zinfandel, and Ridge Vineyards produces some of our region’s finest.
- Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs – For more than 40 years, the winery has produced this flagship single-vineyard zinfandel-based field blend. Each vintage offers a fresh and honest taste of the land.
- Make sure to wander outside the winery into their vineyard for an upclose look at head-trained vines planted more than a century ago.
The Mounts family has been growing grapes in Sonoma County for more than 70 years, through three generations, though they’ve only produced their own wines since 2005. Mounts emphasis on family is evident throughout the brand. Winemaker David Mounts took his now-wife Lana to Passport to Dry Creek Valley the first week they were dating. In 2015, the winery introduced a white Rhone-style blend and a red Rhone-style blend, both called Verah, after David Mount’s grandmother. In addition to the winery’s delicious Rhone varieties, they also grow and produce a few other wines, including a deliciously bold Petite Sirah, called “Petasera.”
- Mounts Viognier – This wine is refreshing and full-bodied all at once, showcasing tropical fruit flavors and compelling minerality.
- There’s a yellow 1954 Chevy truck parked at Mounts Family Winery–Jack Mounts, the first grower in the family, bought the truck new in Healdsburg for $1,625. During harvest, the family still puts it to use in the vineyard!
Not far from Unti Vineyards, you’ll be delighted to discover Timber Crest Farms, a warehouse one-stop-shop that’s home to five WDCV member tasting rooms and wineries. Plan to spend significant time at Timber Crest Farms, because there’s a lot to taste and enjoy! Previously a dried fruit production facility, Timber Crest Farms has housed a collective of prestigious small-production wineries since 2004.
Amphora Winery, named for the clay vessels that held wine in ancient times, produces a unique range of mostly red wines from some of the county’s finest vineyards. Collier Falls makes elegant bold red wines and wine-infused chocolate sauces. Kokomo Winery produces balanced, terroir-driven wines from a broad range of grapes, including one of Dry Creek Valley’s only Muscat Blanc wines. Peterson Winery emphasizes gentle winemaking techniques and sustainable farming. Owner Fred Peterson, a volunteer firefighter in his spare time, also produces a wine to benefit the Geyserville Fire Department. Papapietro Perry makes a mouthwatering, spicy Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel you won’t want to miss.
- Finding something for everyone – Timber Crest Farms is a great destination if you’ve got an adventurous palate or if you’re traveling in a group with lots of different taste preferences. With several wineries in one spot, there’s no doubt you’ll find something that wows you.
- Collier Falls Chocolate Raspberry Zinfandel Sauce — need we say more?
To conclude your Dry Creek 101 trip, a stop at Sbragia Family Vineyards is a must. Perched atop a hill ten miles north of downtown Healdsburg, the winery serves fine wines with some of the finest views of Dry Creek Valley.
The Sbragia family has been in the area since 1904. Third generation vintner Ed Sbragia grew up in wine country and became well known as a Winemaster at Beringer Vineyards, where he began working in the 1970s. In 2001, Ed formed his own label, Sbragia Family Vineyards. Today, Ed’s son Adam Sbragia is the family winemaker, continuing the family tradition of big, rich, balanced and polished wines. Sbragia’s Dry Creek Valley wines showcase a classically Californian winemaking style and a reverence for the land. Beyond their excellent zinfandel offerings, enjoy opulent chardonnay, juicy merlot, and structured cabernet sauvignon.
- Sbragia Home Ranch Chardonnay – This is a decadent, oak-aged chardonnay with ripe tropical fruit flavors, the kind that will remind you–with pleasure–of the California wines you likely fell in love with decades ago.
- During the warmer seasons, enjoy a Tasting on the Terrace, where you can soak in the breath-taking views.
Be sure to check out our other Dry Creek Valley Itineraries here.