The Wine Lover’s Guide to Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley

Sbragia Family Vineyards
Zo Wines Dry Creek Valley | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a woman wearing a pink maxi dress and hold in glass of ZO wine in vineyard.

Last fall, I got the opportunity to visit the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma not once, but twice, and I can safely say that it is heaven on earth. The views, the wine, the food…I was blown away! I plan on returning this year because I’ve only scratched the surface. This region is jam-packed with some of the best food and wine in the country, and it is a haven for any foodie or wine lover.

Sonoma Dry Creek Valley is home to 60+ wineries, and a good portion of them are family-owned and operated. The region is northwest of Healdsburg, CA, which has the most charming downtown area that’s jam-packed with world-class restaurants, wine bars, and shopping. 

One of the great things about this particular wine region? It is very approachable. It’s definitely not stuffy or pretentious (like some other wine regions might appear to be!), and even if you have limited knowledge about wine, the staff at the wineries are there to assist you and help you find your perfect pairing. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced wine drinker, here’s why Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley is the ideal place to book your next wine adventure. 
 
Comstock Wines | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of Comstock Wines vineyard.

Sonoma Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley Travel Guide: Getting There & Getting Around

If you’re flying into Dry Creek Valley, you have a few options. You can fly into either the Sonoma County Airport (STS), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) or Oakland International Airport (OAK).

If you can get a flight into STS, that’s your best bet: it is the closest airport to the region. However, in my experience, finding a flight from the East Coast to STS was a bit tricky. Most of the options I had coming from DC to STS involved either 3+ flights or extremely long layovers, so we ended up flying into SFO and renting a car to drive up to Dry Creek Valley. It is about a 1.5-hour drive from SFO to Dry Creek Valley, depending on traffic.

If you’re winery hopping, I’d highly recommend either having one reliable designated driver in the group or hiring a transport service. The signal out in Dry Creek Valley is a bit spotty, and you’re not likely going to be able to call an Uber/Lyft to get you from winery to winery. When I visited Vintners Resort, we used Pure Luxury Transportation to transport us, which offers wine tours, private tours, wedding transportation, and more throughout the Bay Area. We loved the experience — our driver was very timely, professional, and the ride was incredibly smooth! There was even a console in the back of the vehicle where we could link via Bluetooth, and we got to set our playlist. How amazing is that?

If you want to explore downtown Healdsburg or Santa Rosa, I’d recommend renting a car or calling an Uber/Lyft to get around.

Zo Wines Dry Creek Valley | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of ZO wines vineyard.

Zo Wines Farmstay | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a canopy bed.
Zo Wines Bed and Breakfast Healdsburg CA | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of ZO wines bed and breakfast.

Zo Wines | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a Healdsburg coordinate pillow.

Dry Creek Valley Travel Guide: Where to Stay

If you’re looking for a resort with all of the amenities (spa, pool, restaurants on-site, etc.) — I’d highly recommend staying at Vintners Resort. You can read my full review of the property here

Are you looking to stay at a vineyard? We stayed at the Zo Wines Farmstay and loved every minute of our experience. It’s an incredibly charming, boutique property, and each stay includes a complimentary wine tasting sensory workshop.

They have three rooms to choose from: we stayed in Room #4, which is arguably one of the best rooms to book (but you really can’t go wrong with any option!) This room had an impressive view of the vineyard — wake up for sunrise, the morning view with the mountains is one of the most breathtaking sights you’ll see. Our room also had a large, luxurious tub in the bathroom that was perfect for unwinding after a long day of wine tasting.

The rest of the house was shared, and there was a spacious living area, a cozy kitchen, and a beautifully wrapped porch that you could relax on. We thought the staff was amiable, and it was the perfect base for us to explore the rest of the area. 

 

Sbragia Family Vineyards | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of  Sbragia Family Vineyards.

Comstock Wines | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of woman pouring glasses of Comstock red wine.
Comstock Wines Dry Creek Valley | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of red grapes.

Zo Wines | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of ZO wines vineyard.

Zo Wines | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of an outdoor table set with wine glasses.
Zo Wines | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of someone pouring a glass of ZO wines white wine.

Ferrari Carano | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a group of women walking outside Ferrari Carano.

Sbragia Family Vineyards | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of Sbragia Family Vineyards Chardonnay.

Dry Creek Valley Travel Guide: Best Wineries to Visit

  • Comstock Wines: Comstock Wines is a small, family-owned winery that is elevated yet approachable. If you’re going to do a food and wine pairing anywhere during your visit, this is the ideal spot: their chef thinks outside of the box and has created truly innovative wine and food pairings (ex. a Pinot Noir and grilled cheese pairing). We thought the atmosphere was lively as well, and there’s plenty of other activities to partake in: from the bocce court to the blending seminars offered, you can tell that this is a winery that likes to have fun with wine.
     
    Try their Zinfandel — it’s made from 118-year-old vines!
     
  • Sbragia Family Vineyards: Sbragia is a stunning, mid-sized winery that is perfect for tastings, events, and weddings. They had a tasty variety of wines for all kinds of wine drinkers: plenty of dry and off-dry options to satisfy anyone in your group. It is a fantastic place to catch a sunset, and one of the most stunning wineries in the region. 
     
  • Zo Wines: There were many reasons why Zo Wines stood out to us. For starters, their wine tasting sensory workshop was a very immersive education experience, and it was a very approachable way to learn more about wine. Also, their award-winning Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite wines (and I’m not even that big of a white wine drinker!) When we visited last fall, they were in the middle building a beautiful new tasting area. From what we saw, it looked incredible. If you get to experience it, you’re in for a treat.
     
  • Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery: It’s safe to say that Ferrari Carano is one of the most stunning vineyards I’ve ever visited. When I stepped on their property, I felt like I was transported to Tuscany!
     
    Their tasting room is open to the public daily, and if you wanted to drop in for a quick tasting or to grab a glass, it’s pretty laid back and would not require a reservation. They also offer winery tours and private wine tastings for groups up to 6, which I would highly recommend. All five of Ferrari-Carano’s winemakers are female, which I also thought was impressive. Their 2017 Zinfandel and 2014 PreVail West Face were my favorite wines that I sampled. 

Comstock Wines | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a plate of food and wine glasses filled with Comstock wine.

Valette Restaurant Healdsburg CA | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of food at Valette Restaurant.
Valette Restaurant Healdsburg | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a plate of food at Valette Restaurant.

Dry Creek Valley General Store | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of Dry Creek Valley General Store.

John Ash & Co. | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a plate of food at Josh Ash & Co.
Vintners Resort Dinner in the Vineyard | Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a group of women eating and drinking wine outside at Vintners Resort.

Dry Creek Valley Travel Guide: Where to Eat

  • Valette Restaurant: Valette serves a modern take on classic California cuisine, and the result is delightful. It is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the area that has innovative takes on American cuisine and is jam-packed with sharp flavors. I’d highly recommend the Day Boat Scallops en Croûte: the presentation on this dish will make your jaw drop. Reservations are recommended. 
     
  • Dry Creek General Store: If you’re looking for a quick breakfast, or want to pack a picnic for your winery adventures, Dry Creek Valley General Store is a solid bet. They have one of the best breakfast burritos I’ve ever had, and their cheese and charcuterie selection is next level. 
     
  • Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar: Craving seafood? Grab lunch or dinner at Willi’s in downtown Healdsburg. This restaurant was highly recommended to me by several locals, so you know it’s the real deal: great oysters, incredible cocktails, and very attentive service.
     
  • John Ash & Co.: John Ash & Co. was the first Sonoma restaurant to introduce the “farm to table” concept, and it is a local favorite. They have a brilliant take on contemporary American food, and only prepare their dishes with the finest, seasonal ingredients. If you’re looking for an intimate dinner, this would be a solid bet.

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Sonoma Dry Creek Valley by popular US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise: Pinterest image of Sonoma Dry Creek Valley.

Have you ever visited Sonoma Dry Creek Valley? Let me know in the comments below!

Photos by Tom McGovern. Thank you to the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley for hosting us! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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