There are many backroads in Russian River wine country and each one is interesting and different. We have explored every small country road in the area beginning in the south in Sebastopol to Cloverdale at the north end. West Dry Creek Road near Healdsburg has our vote for the best wine country backroad in the Russian River area, and perhaps the best damn wine country backroad in all of California.
West Dry Creek Road begins at Westside Road near the famous Madrona Manor Bed & Breakfast spot. It winds through beautiful vineyards and oak woodlands until it dead-ends at the Bella winery about ten miles away. It is a lazy narrow road, where cars should not go more than 20 to 25 miles per hour and less on the turns. This road is also a favorite route among cyclists, joggers and walkers. Be very careful when driving.
There are several small family-owned wineries on Dry Creek Road, all a little different from one another and all worth exploring. There are too many wineries to visit on one wine getaway, but these should be at the top of the list.
Starting from the Madrona Manor on Westside Road, the first winery is Lambert Bridge. This is our favorite picnic spot. This is by far the most serene and peaceful place to enjoy a lunch. We usually do not wine taste here because the tasting fee is $10 and that is just too high. The wines are good but also expensive. We usually head to the tasting room and purchase a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, borrow glasses and enjoy a long hour to relax and enjoy the solitude.
Down the road on Lambert Bridge Road is Passalacqua Winery. They also have a very beautiful picnic spot and an excellent choice of wines.
If you continue on, take a left turn on Wine Creek Road. Michel Schlumberger is up about one mile and they make terrific wines. If you decide to visit this winery, call a couple of days before to schedule a tour and tasting because they are open by appointment only.
Continuing on West Dry Creek Road, Quivera Vineyards is interesting because it has a very new biodynamic garden and demonstration center. Their Biodynamically produced wines are good too.
The next winery is easy to miss but try not to because it is one of these secret gems. There is just a small sign on the left pointing up the hill to Hawley Vineyards and Winery. John Hawley and his family work this winery and make 5000 cases of wine annually. This is a down-to-earth winery with no frills, just very good wines. Don’t miss the barrel fermented Viognier.
Almost at the end of West Dry Creek Road is the turnoff for Preston Vineyards, one of the first wineries to practice organic farming. In addition to producing wine, Preston’s makes olive oil and bakes fresh bread. Preston’s also is a good choice for a picnic lunch.
Last, at the very end of the road is Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves. They make some very excellent Zinfandels and the caves are worth a visit.