Note: Bistro Ralph has closed its restaurant.
On the spur of the moment, we decided to take a quick overnight trip to the wine country in the Russian River area. We have a couple of favorite spots in this area that we love to visit during the Fall. The colors are absolutely beautiful in the Dry Creek Valley, the Alexander Valley, and the Russian River Valley.
Besides the Fall colors another good reason to travel at this time of year, and in midweek, is that you can get a better lodging rate and things are much less crowded everywhere you go.
We found a room at the Best Western Dry Creek Inn for a measly $69. The room is in the new Tuscan center of the hotel and has a fireplace, large screen TV, and a Jacuzzi tub. We don’t really need those things but why not take them if they come with a room that normally prices well over $200? For you travelers to Healdsburg, this online midweek offer is probably going to continue to run during the winter months.
For dinner, we made a great choice by dining at Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg on the Plaza. It has been there for 19 years and we can easily understand why. They have not missed a beat since our last visit some five years ago. The food is outstanding. While the wine list may be a bit on the high side, you can bring in your own wine and feel very good about the fact that half the $20 corkage fee will go to a charity. It is a nice way to give to a charity without really giving.
Janelle had the special dinner for Tuesday night, Baby Back Ribs. The ribs literally fell off the bones, so juicy and tender. I had the Chanterelle Rigatoni with red garnet yams and black pig bacon. The dish was superb and one I will try duplicating at home.
We very much enjoyed driving in the late afternoon along the very quiet West Dry Creek Road. Near the Lambert Bridge Winery is a beautiful row of liquid amber trees, all changing color but at different rates. With the sun shining on the trees, it is nature at its best. What a lovely sight to behold.
There are many wineries to visit in this area. We stopped in at Montemaggiore, a small family-run winery that makes about 1500 cases of wine per year. They concentrate on Rhone wines, particularly Syrah. Over at Mauritson on the other side of Dry Creek Road, we found some delicious and heavy-duty Rockpile wines. These are wines that come from 800-foot elevation vineyards above Lake Sonoma. These vines are stressed to the hilt with high winds during the summer. The concentration in the berries is what makes these wine so intense.
For more information on this area, visit our Healdsburg section on WineCountryGetaways to find wineries, where to lodge, dine, and enjoy a picnic lunch. We also have a great short video to help you plan a wonderful trip to this stunning area in the Russian River.