Though we have been to Sonoma County a few times now, we really hadn’t explored the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, so on this trip we set out to remedy that issue. Zinfandel is king here and you can easily tell this by the rows and rows of beautiful old vines that line Dry Creek Road.
Dry Creek Vineyard — Our first stop in the valley, we had a free tasting card from our B&B and decided to stop here for wine and snacks. The tasting itself was pretty good — besides their mass market wines they also had quite a few wines that are unavailable in the east coast market. Our major complaint was the best two wines we tried were only available for wine club members. Not discounted, you really couldn’t buy the wines without joining the club. After the tasting, we purchased a glass of wine each (Old Vine Zinfandel and Foggy Oak Chardonnay) and sat in the sunshine enjoying some cheese and bread from Oakville Grocery and sweets from Moustache Bakery in Healdsburg.
Sbragia Family Winery — Continuing up Dry Creek Road we heard a few mentions of this place and decided to stop in for the views and the wine. Unfortunately, the views were much better than the wine. We thought the white wines had a strange bitterness on the finish and, unfortunately, the rose wasn’t available for tasting. My favorite red was the 2007 Monte Rosso Cab but at $80/bottle there are much better values in the valley.
Gustafson Family Winery — The following day, we continued even further up the valley and wound our way through some fantastic scenery to this out-of-the-way winery. The views were spectacular and this time the wine lived up to the views. We had a lovely tasting and our pourer even gave us a generous pour of the wine of our choice to enjoy at their picnic spot behind the tasting room. They also had a few deals going on so we took advantage of a mixed half case white deal and a six-bottle 2009 estate Heritage Zinfandel deal. We would definitely recommend this place to anyone with a few days in Sonoma.
Geyser Peak Winery — This winery is large with several of their bottles found all over the US, but much like Erath in Oregon, we were very impressed with their smaller batch stuff. We had a free tasting card from the B&B again (it pays to stay somewhere that has this perk!) and our host was happy to go off script and let us try a bunch of different bottles that were open. With good shipping prices, we are considering joining the wine club at some point to get access to some of their boutique offerings. We left with a 2012 River Ranches Sauvignon Blanc (peanut, grass, nice acidity); 2009 Knight’s Valley Malbec (fruity, rich); and 2012 Pluto’s Fury Pinot Noir (classic pinot, hints of leather and jam).
Field Stone Winery — This winery was our last stop on the second day so perhaps we were a little wined-out but we found the wines to be just okay. The tasting room itself is pretty cool (and mentioned in the recommendations we heard) as you walk into a barrel storage area built into a hill and taste the wine underground. I personally found our pourer to be a bit pushy about the wine club; I lost track of how many times he suggested it to us in our twenty minute visit. Still, they were running a special so we bought a “Staten Family Reserve” Viognier (apricot and peach) and a 2011 Merlot (sugar and fruit).