Rockpile is an AVA (Wine Appellation) situated above the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. Have you visited any wineries that make wines from the Rockpile AVA? Read more on Rockpile and wineries that make a Rockpile wine.
We are big fans of Zinfandel wines, especially from the Dry Creek Valley in the Russian River wine region of Sonoma County. The Dry Creek Valley is one of the prettiest wine country areas in California. This AVA (wine appellation) is small by most standards, only 16 miles long by two miles wide. Yet it is packed with small family-owned wineries, all producing delicious and tasty wines, especially Zinfandel. Nearly 2400 acres in the Dry Creek Valley are planted with Zinfandel grapes.
If you like Zinfandel, you will love this two-day outing we have mapped out for you. If you don’t find Zinfandel wines to your liking here, you won’t find them anywhere else indeed!
Make your home base the wine country town of Healdsburg. It borders the Dry Creek Valley and has numerous lodging accommodations, dozens of upscale restaurants and lots of boutique shopping.
Day One – In Search of Zinfandel
First stop is Seghesio winery in the town of Healdsburg, 14730 Grove Street. The winery began in 1895 and is famous for three different Zinfandel wines. You can play Bocce here and enjoy a picnic lunch under the Redwoods. After your visit, continue north on Grove, turn left onto Dry Creek Road and head to the Mauritson Family Winery. Mauritson is about three miles away on the right where Lytton Spring Road meets Dry Creek Road. Have you heard of Rockpile Zinfandel? The Mauritson Family winery has 40 acres of vines in the rugged Rockpile region that sits above Lake Sonoma. A portion of the Rockpile AVA falls within the Dry Creek AVA. If you like big and bold Zin, Rockpile is it.
Leave Mauritson and head up Lytton Springs Road to Ridge Vineyards. Ridge is another top producer of Zinfandel wines; our favorite is Ridge’s Three Valleys Sonoma Zinfandel, with most of the grapes harvested from the Dry Creek Valley. At this point you can call it a day and continue on Lytton Spring Road to hop onto Highway 101 back to Healdsburg. There are plenty of tasting rooms in Healdsburg just in case you did not get your fill.
Day Two – In Search of Zinfandel
On day two, we head to West Dry Creek Road, perhaps the prettiest backroads in all of wine country. Watch for cyclists, joggers and walkers. This road is popular for outdoor activity because it is quiet, serene, and oh so beautiful. From Healdsburg, take Westside Road to the Madrona Manor Inn and turn right onto West Dry Creek Road. There are many good wineries along this backroad beginning with Everett Ridge. We also like the Lambert Bridge Winery. It’s one of our top spots to enjoy a picnic lunch in wine country. Another favorite spot is Quivira Vineyards, just past Lambert Bridge Road. The winery is certified biodynamic and makes many good wines including a wonderful Zinfandel. Down the road is Zichichi Winery. A former team physician for the New Orleans Saints owns Zichichi. Their Zinfandel is so good that it often sells out the day it’s released. Who knows, you may get lucky and find some of this Zin available to taste and purchase. Finally, we recommend a stop at the Bella Winery at the very end of West Dry Creek Road. It is a fun and busy winery and, best of all, Bella specializes in Zinfandel.
After your visit to Bella, we suggest you backtrack along West Dry Creek Road and cross over to Dry Creek Road at Yoakim Bridge. Head back to Healdsburg along Dry Creek Road. I’m sure you will be tempted to stop at one or more of the many intriguing wineries you will pass on your way back to Healdsburg.
On WineCountryGetaways.com you will get a complete list of the best lodging and best restaurants in the Healdsburg area. You can also find a list “Things to Do” should you need a break from your search for Zinfandel wine.
We met Clay Mauritson, owner and winemaker of Mauritson Winery, early on Saturday morning at the Mauritson winery and followed him up to his family vineyards in the Rockpile AVA. Rockpile is a small AVA that is situated high above Lake Sonoma. This is a chaparral environment, dry and rocky, with steep hillsides. By the looks of it, you would hardly expect any vineyards to grow here. Yet, at Rockpile there are roughly 148 acres of vines that are stressed to the max and produce big, full-flavored and complex wines. The Mauritson Family owns 40 plus acres of vineyards at Rockpile.
This is not a normal morning at Rockpile. The air is thick with fog and you can barely see more than 100 yards. What makes this area so special is the fact that Rockpile is 800 feet to 2000 feet in elevation. With Lake Sonoma below, an inversion layer is created so it always has sunshine while the rest of the Russian River wine region is in fog. On most days, the afternoon brings strong winds from the Pacific Ocean that stress the vines and causes them to lose water. Yet all the vines look amazingly healthy at this time of the year.