A Great Drive in Northern Sonoma County

Cover three AVAs in one day on a scenic loop drive that begins in downtown Healdsburg. Before departing, break your fast at Flying Goat Coffee or Downtown Bakery & Creamery, then pick up everything you need for a picnic at nearby Oakville Grocery. Thus prepared, hop in the car and head south on Healdsburg Avenue.

Russian River Valley AVA

A few blocks south of Healdsburg Plaza, stay left to avoid U.S. 101. About ½ mile past the bridge over the Russian River, Healdsburg Avenue becomes Old Redwood Highway. Just past the driveway for the J and Rodney Strong wineries—by all means stop at one of them if you’re eager to start tasting—make a right onto Eastside Road and continue past Copain Wines to Wohler Road and turn right. Before long you’ll cross the rusting, highly photogenic Wohler Bridge. At Westside Road, turn north to reach Arista Winery. After tasting there head north on Westside Road about 6 miles past Arista.

Dry Creek Valley AVA

Turn northwest at the intersection of Westside and West Dry Creek Roads—Madrona Manor, worth a peek for its well-tended estate garden, borders them both—and continue on West Dry Creek for about 9 miles to Preston of Dry Creek. Sample some wines and perhaps pick up a bottle—the peppy Sauvignon Blanc is a natural pick on a hot summer day, and the Barbera is a good red—to enjoy while picnicking on the property.

From Preston, head southeast on West Dry Creek Road and east on Yoakim Bridge Road. If it's summer and the Dry Creek Peach & Produce stand is open, stop to sample the fruit; otherwise continue directly to Dry Creek Road and turn south, heading east after about ¼ mile onto Canyon Road. After 2 miles, just after you pass under U.S. 101, turn south (right) on Highway 128 east, also signed as Geyserville Avenue.

Alexander Valley AVA

Let your mood determine your stop in the Alexander Valley. Taste flights of wines from small producers at the Locals Tasting Room or, for Cab, Zin, and a Zin-based blend, continue east on Highway 128, turning left on River Road to Zialena. If Hollywood glitz is more your speed, head south on Geyserville Avenue to U.S. 101, hop on the freeway for 1 mile, and take the Independence Lane exit. Follow signs west from the exit to Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

After your Alexander Valley stop, enjoy dinner at Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria or Catelli’s in Geyserville, or head back to Healdsburg, south on Geyserville Avenue, briefly east (left) onto Lytton Springs Road, and south on Healdsburg Avenue.

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