A Day in Dry Creek Valley: Where to Sip, Eat, & Stay
No exploration of Sonoma County wine country is complete without a stop in the region’s Zinfandel capital, Dry Creek Valley. Whether it’s just for the day or you’re spending the weekend, our area’s eclectic melange of centennial winemaking history, family-owned winery hospitality, and of course, world-class dining, lodging and shopping offerings in nearby Healdsburg, make us an unforgettable destination. We’re a place that visitors remember and love returning to again and again.
With such a variety of options to fork, cork and unwind, it’s probably a good idea to create an itinerary before you arrive based upon your own personal must-sees and dos. But since we’re experts on our amazing valley, we’ve offered up a few suggestions along three simple categories for you to get started: Sipping, Eating, and Staying.
If you’re looking for great wineries to sip Dry Creek Valley wines, there’s no better place to start than our wineries page. Featuring all of our member wineries, you can sort by varietal, amenities-offered, or just alphabetically if you prefer and it’s your handy-dandy Cliff Notes for great wine tasting out here in the region. While the vast majority of the wineries in Dry Creek Valley are family-owned, they span all sizes, large and small. A few of iconic names are Dry Creek Vineyard, Ferrari Carano Vineyards & Winery, and Ridge Vineyards along with some boutique brands such as Peterson Winery, Raymond Burr Vineyards, and Zichichi Family Vineyard. A few wineries such as A. Rafanelli Winery and Pasterick Wines – Vineyard Of Pasterick are by appointment only, so it’s always a great idea to call ahead and schedule a reservation. Many of our wineries offer breathtaking views of the valley and dining/picnicking opportunities, so if you want a day outdoors and the chance to snap some amazing photos, you want to have at least one of them on your visit list.
Afternoon picnic fare, rustic farm-to-table casual, or upscale dining — Healdsburg has it all, especially for a city of only around 11,000. To pack that picnic basket, hit the road, or lunch patio side, the Dry Creek Valley General Store offers up mouthwatering gourmet bites and signature sandwiches hot or cold, perennial faves like the Prosciutto di Parma or their grilled Reuben paninis. SHED Healdsburg keeps locals and visitors alike buzzing with locally-made Flying Goat Coffee and offers a range of house-made pastries, ready-made sandwiches and small batch house-made ice creams. They also have a “fermentation bar” that serves up kombuchas, natural sodas and hard ciders. To sample local wines with wine country cuisine, the East Coast and South America meet wine country at Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar where where you can indulge on Latin-inspired skewers and the freshest in local oysters. Bistro Ralph’s offers up seasonal Californian-twists on French cuisine — a Liberty Duck Confit Flambe that packs Eiffel Tower-sized deliciousness — to go along with a fabulous martini bar. Chalkboard’s daily-changing menu is defined by ingredients sourced from local purveyors and farms, highlighting crudos, just-picked salads, handmade pastas, roasted and grilled meats, seafood, and a selection of playful dessert offerings. For the best in upscale cuisine, Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen is a Healdsburg institution committed to fresh ingredient diversity and international sophistication with small-town personality. Make your reservations ahead of time for Scopa, where the authentic, Italian-inspired cuisine and thin-crust pizzas are bellissimo and the service is downright seductive. Madrona Manor Wine Country Inn & Restaurant is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the area that serves up portrait-perfect, palate-bending cuisine in a formal setting that dazzles with service showmanship — tableside ice cream service anyone? And if Anthony Bourdain makes it a point to stop in your restaurant, then you have just one of the many reasons Chef Louis Maldonado’s Spoonbar has become the market-menu destination on every foodie’s map.
Hotel Healdsburg puts you right in the epicenter of the Downtown Healdsburg and is an oasis of courtyards, atriums and balcony gardens overlooking Healdsburg’s historic town plaza. The rooms are spacious, minimalist and serene, with teak platform beds, oversized bathrooms made of smooth-poured concrete and most rooms have French doors and private balconies, with views of the town plaza, hotel gardens, or the surrounding countryside. Great dining, tasting rooms, shopping and art galleries are all within a walk of its front doors. For eco-friendly lodgings, h2hotel is a hamlet of sustainability that features elegant utilitarian rooms done in in bamboo floors and showcasing enormous bathrooms enhanced by heated floors and ofuros.The hotel also has solar heating, a living roof planted in sod, an underground water cistern, and sustainable and recycled materials used throughout the lobby and rooms. For privacy and luxury, The DuChamp Hotel is inspired by its namesake Marcel DuChamp and has the Euro-feel of the Southern French countryside with six luxurious cottages nestled amid a grove of fifty-year-old olive trees, accented by an oasis of private terraces, pool and gardens. Madrona Manor Wine Country Inn and Restaurant is a restored Victorian mansion that sits atop a hill of an eight acre sprawling estate surrounded by meticulously landscaped gardens, wooden grounds and houses 18 rooms/suites featuring fireplaces and luxurious amenities, Many of the rooms have decks and balconies that offer spectacular views of surrounding Dry Creek Valley wine country and its Old World feel makes it an ideal place to unwind and unplug in the spirit of eras past. For more budget-friendly lodgings without sacrificing luxuries, The Best Western Dry Creek Inn is a Tuscan-style escape with beautifully appointed rooms that evoke Mediterranean villas while also offering modern amenities such as ergonomic work spaces and complimentary high-speed Internet access and a range of convenient amenities such as free hot breakfast. Their Tuscan courtyard patio is also a great place to unwind with a nice glass of wine among the soothing fountains or the pool area where lounging is not only encouraged, but required.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our recommendations for visiting Dry Creek Valley — come see us soon!