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Best Dry Creek Valley Wineries

KarlaMei Mar 14, 2007 11:13 AM

What are your favorite wineries to visit in the Dry Creek Valley/Healdsburg area? Looking for some good Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Viognier. I also prefer small wineries that aren't touristy or anything, but great wine and/or a beautiful place to drink wine are the top priorities!

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  1. Husky RE: KarlaMei Mar 14, 2007 11:24 AM

    For Pinot Noir, try Gary Farrell.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Husky
      zin1953 RE: Husky Mar 14, 2007 05:41 PM

      Truly great Pinot. Also excellent Zin and Sauvignon Blanc. But they are not in Dry Creek.

      They're in the Russian River Valley.

      1. re: zin1953
        Husky RE: zin1953 Mar 14, 2007 05:49 PM

        My bad. Speaking of Zinfandel and Dry Creek Valley, has anyone ever had any luck extracting more than one bottle from the Zin Nazi (Rafanelli)? On both of my visits there, they have only let me buy one bottle!

        1. re: Husky
          brokergal RE: Husky Mar 15, 2007 08:29 AM

          You can buy a case through their futures program. We've done it for years - their product is consistent.

    2. p
      pws RE: KarlaMei Mar 14, 2007 11:34 AM

      Preston makes a Viognier

      1. m
        Mick Ruthven RE: KarlaMei Mar 14, 2007 12:13 PM

        There are recent threads discussing this, including in the context of the recent barrel tasting event. Lots of good info.

        1. f
          fine wino RE: KarlaMei Mar 14, 2007 04:47 PM

          Hit Moshin and Arista for Pinot...Russian River Valley but close enough and a nice drive.

          I love Wilson, Unti and Nalle for Zin. Beautiful view at Wilson. You usually need an appt for Unti. No frills "tasting room" but buy it and drink somewhere else.

          1. b
            Bryan Gros RE: KarlaMei Mar 14, 2007 04:58 PM

            I agree Unti makes great wine and is well worth a stop. Good values.

            Bella has a fabulous setting, very good zin (and syrah), but a little pricey. All the way at the top of West Dry Creek Road, past Preston. (Preston also has picnic area and great bread, but I've never found their wine worth buying).

            For Pinot, South of Healdsburg offers a clump of tasting rooms for Davis Family, Holdredge, Sapphire Hill and others. All 3 make nice RRV pinot, and all have very nice, approachable winemakers who are happy to talk wine. Sapphire Hill makes Viognier I believe, and they all make nice zins too. Not much of a setting, but there are picnic tables also. Grab some stuff from Oakville Grocery, and it's about half a mile down.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bryan Gros
              fine wino RE: Bryan Gros Mar 15, 2007 02:34 PM

              Duh! I can't believe I forgot Bella. Awesome zins and a very pretty stop. They usually do tasing in the cave as well as the regular tasting room on the weekends, which is cool.

              Thanks for the pinot recs above. I haven't been to any of those.

              1. re: fine wino
                Cheese Please RE: fine wino Mar 16, 2007 07:01 PM

                At the risk of spoiling all the good feelings, my wife and I came away with a pretty negative reaction to Bella when we visited right around crush time last September. The natural setting is lovely, but the whole experience was cheesy. They had a schmaltzy musician singing and playing an electric keyboard on their lawn. The staff relentlessly pushed the wine club and merchandise, shuttling us from station to station in conveyor-belt fashion. You know, when you walk into a wine cave, you kind of want it to be... cave-like. The Bella staff was cranking lousy music on a boom-box in the cave, and the gift shop with all manner of corny trinkets was right there at the cave entrance - ruining the whole idea of wine tasting in a cave, for us anyway. To our taste, the Bella wine was simply not as good as similarly priced and even lower priced offerings from other area producers. But maybe we're too snobby - all the other people there seemed to be enjoying themselves in a Bella-trance. You decide.

                1. re: Cheese Please
                  Mick Ruthven RE: Cheese Please Mar 16, 2007 08:37 PM

                  Three of us stopped at Bella the first Sunday of the barrel tasting event a couple of weeks ago. Yes, it was a bit hokey in the cave but it actually was fun, the food sampling from Zin was great, and all of us loved their (pretty expensive) Zins.

            2. z
              zin1953 RE: KarlaMei Mar 14, 2007 05:58 PM

              Are you asking about Dry Creek, meaning the physical location of the winery, or Dry Creek, as in wines originating from the Dry Creek Valley AVA? A number of wineries in the Dry Creek Valley make Pinot Noir, but usually -- though not always -- it's made from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley AVA. The Dry Creek Valley AVA isn't all that great for Pinot. But it's excellent for Zinfandel!

              Anyway, what appears below are only wineries located in the Dry Creek Valley. Wineries are in alphabetical order. All are recommended, with strongest recommendations in CAPITAL letters.

              Viognier: Frick, HAWLEY, Preston

              Zinfandel: Caffaro, Deux Amis, Dry Creek Vineyards, Gallo of Sonoma, Lambert Bridge, Mazzocco, Nalle, Quivira, Pezzi-King, RAFANELLI, RIDGE VINEYARDS (Lytton Springs facility), Seghesio, Teldeschi, UNTI, Wilson.

              Pinot Noir: There really aren't any great Pinot producers located in Dry Creek Valley itself (IMHO, of course; YMMV). Most, like the already mentioned GARY FARRELL and MOSHIN, are close by in the Russian River Valley. And it is *definitely* worth taking the short trip over there! Also: Copain, DEHLINGER, Davis Family, Holdridge, Joseph Swan, Kosta Brown, LA CREMA, MERRY EDWARDS, Paul Hobbs, Sapphire Hill, Williams Seylem. And in Santa Rosa are DuMol and SIDURI.

              4 Replies
              1. re: zin1953
                Melanie Wong RE: zin1953 Mar 14, 2007 07:45 PM

                Coffaro, not Caffaro. Note that a number of these are not open for general public tasting.

                1. re: Melanie Wong
                  zin1953 RE: Melanie Wong Mar 15, 2007 03:48 PM

                  But they usually are with a phone call . . .

                  As far as Dave Coffaro, I honestly don't think I've ever spelled his name correctly on the first try. Personally, I'll pass the buck and blame Joe Cafaro for it all . . .


                  1. re: zin1953
                    Melanie Wong RE: zin1953 Mar 15, 2007 05:33 PM

                    The ones I was thinking of in particular are Dehlinger, Paul Hobbs, and William Selyem who only take appointments from trade, press, and sometimes mailing list customers. And, I'm pretty sure that Copain is not open to the public either. I also thought that Merry was not open for tasting, BUT checking the website, one can make an appointment to tasting at Merry Edwards. Happy to know that.

                    And, yes, its is Joe Cafaro's fault. (g) Dave is a personal friend of mine, and he said that when he first decided to go commercial (1994 was the first release), he gave Joe a call to see how he felt about him using Coffaro as his brand name. He said Joe couldn't have been nicer, wished him well, and didn't have any issue with the slight similarity.

                    P.S. Gary Farrell's striking out on his own again.

                2. re: zin1953
                  Lori SF RE: zin1953 Mar 14, 2007 08:06 PM

                  seconds to Ridge Lytton Springs for Zinfadel

                3. wearybashful RE: KarlaMei Mar 14, 2007 08:49 PM

                  Best picnic area: Passalacqua for less than 4-5. Nice Sauvignon Blanc.

                  1. k
                    KarlaMei RE: KarlaMei Mar 15, 2007 11:30 AM

                    Thanks everyone... keep the suggestions coming. I'm open to wineries anywhere near Healdsburg as we love that area and drive around their as often as we can!

                    1. m
                      margieco RE: KarlaMei Mar 15, 2007 03:40 PM

                      I really like the cabs at Wilson. 2nd bella, ridge, quivera. Armida has some good zins and a geat place for picnic. We just wandered into Unti. Also a fan of David Coffaro. oh! and if i remember correctly got a fantastic chard. at passalacqua (barrel fermented -- was really nice). And if it's sunday when you go to preston you can get a jug -- this one is worth buying.

                      1. wearybashful RE: KarlaMei Mar 16, 2007 08:54 AM

                        Siduri's in Santa Rosa, in a warehouse. They make lots of single-vineyard pinots. You have to call for an appointment, but they encourage that:
                        For the elegant winery experience and Pinot Noir, try Lynmar.
                        These are both in the Russian River area, not Dry Creek, but if you want to taste Pinot it's only 15 or 20 minutes from Healdsburg.

                        1. s
                          Shanti RE: KarlaMei Mar 16, 2007 02:26 PM

                          Try Mauritson. They make a couple of great zins, If your lucky they have the Rock Pile available. Also Cab, Sauvignon Blanc and Chard.

                          1. s
                            sunnyside RE: KarlaMei Mar 16, 2007 04:39 PM

                            The last couple of times I was there they allowed you to purchase 2 bottles per person - I guess it depends on the time of year. So bring a couple people with you that aren't interested in purcahsing and you could get their bottles. I've always found Rafanelli to be nice enough - just low key, not outgoing, but not rude or anything.

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