POSTED ON September 24, 2009 | IN Dry Creek Valley | BY Joe Becerra
Gustafson Family Winery & Vineyards

Wow, what an amazing winery in so many ways. You must plan a day trip to visit this new winery that sits high atop the mountains of Dry Creek Valley. Although the winery is officially in Dry Creek, it is far from any of the wineries on Dry Creek Road that you might have visited in the past. It is remote, beautiful, and breathtaking. Put it on your list of wineries as a “must visit.”

Dan Gustafson and his family have developed this remarkable winery on 260 acres of beautiful oak woodland forest. 20 acres have been planted with vineyards, all organically farmed. The winery building and the home of the Gustafsons are spectacular to say the least. The view from the front of the house extends all the way to Mountain St. Helena, 26 miles away. Within view is the Dry Creek Valley, the Sonoma Valley, and the Napa Valley. Up on the hill on the opposite side is the picnic area that sits under beautiful Madrone trees. Here visitors are treated to another spectcular view to the north and Lake Sonoma. The vineyards are at 1800 feet, making them the highest vineyards in Sonoma County.

Dan Gustafson standing in front of 300 year old Madrone

Dan Gustafson standing in front of 300 year old Madrone

Dan and his winemaker, Emmett Reed, are the only two full-time employees. Wine production is at 2800 cases annually, and there are five varietals produced. We sampled all the wines with food and were quite impressed with the quality of the wines. The Rosé of Syrah is perhaps one of the better dry Rosé wines we have tasted in recent times. The reds we tasted were elegant and all will pair beautifully with food. The first vintage was 2006 so things are really just getting started at Gustafson. I’m sure these wines will be in high demand as the word gets out.

Gustafson officially opened its tasting room in April of this year. The tasting room is open on Saturdays to the public and by appointment Monday to Friday. To get to the winery from Healdsburg, drive all the way to the end of Dry Creek Road and past the recreation area. Take Skaggs Springs Road for about five miles. It is about 20 miles from Healdsburg and will take about 30 to 40 minutes of driving time.

If you visit and the weather is anything but terrible, you must bring a picnic lunch and sit at the picnic area and enjoy the view and serenity of the area.

One more thing, near the entrance to the winery is a massive Madrone tree that is 300 years old and possibly the oldest Madrone in California. Take a look at this tree, it is truly one of nature’s great gifts.


  1. Jim & Rumi says

    We visited Gustafson Family Vineyards this past weekend. The wines were incredible, the staff extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the wine production, and of course the views were amazing from this location. Definitely worth the drive and will be ordering more wine. Thank you!

    • Joe says

      Thanks for the great feedback. I have not been to Gustafson in 2 years. It is time to make a trip there. The view as you say is fantastic.


  2. Tim Madderom says

    What an incredible experience. My wife and I had a private appointment, a great tasting experience, and a picnic lunch afterward. As soon as we got to the picnic spot, we realized that the rest of the day’s plans were irrelevant. We were going to be spending it with a bottle of Gustafson wine, an unbelievable view, the warm sun, and the Wineries friendly dog close by.

    • Joe says

      Janelle and I need to get back to Gustafson soon. Thanks for reminding us how great this place is.

  3. Jo Diaz says


    I can see why you might interpret Dan Gustafson that way, but it’s a misinterpretation. I say that because I know the man. First of all, he’s a landscape architect… he works with land to make environments more lovely. Next, he’s soft spoken… That quietness about him is what you might misinterpret the most, thinking that he needs to just be more outgoing and get on with it… pal around with you and give you great wine jokes. You won’t get that from Dan… he’s more conservative that way, and polished.

    Polished is not pretentious.

    Let’s talk about the “host” part. If you go to most any other wineries, is the actual owner going to be your host, or is it going to be someone from the tasting room, or maybe the PR department? The fact that Dan could be anywhere else, besides meeting and greeting consumers says… He’s not pretentious.

    Calling someone a “narcissistic moron” – Hum… Being a bully only makes one look silly at best, from afar… possibly dangerous up close. If you were one of my children, I tell you that that’s not very nice, and that’s not what the gods had planned for you when they sent you into the world.

    Wine is a civilizing beverage… please have a few more glasses. You’ll have nicer things to contribute to the world, okay?

  4. john croft says

    One of the most pretentious and over rated hosts ive ever met!!
    id rather drink Boonsfarm!! not because the wines bad, but because
    MR Gustafson is a narcissistic moron who knows nothing about wine or people! Mr reed however has made a great selection, under awful conditions!!

    • Joe says

      Yes, in some ways the whole scene is a little over the top. I love the area and that Madrone tree.