Some of the worlds best Zinfandels are grown and produced just west of Healdsburg in the Dry Creek Valley. The area began attracting settlers around the time of the California Gold Rush in 1849 and is now home to more than 60 wineries and 150 grape growers. Measuring only two miles wide, ridge to ridge, and sixteen miles long, the Valley is one of the smallest enclosed viticultural areas in the United States. Its well drained soil and diverse terroir make it ideal for growing many types of grapes, most notably, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. With the help of coastal fog and its proximity to the San Francisco Bay, the Valley has a climate similar to the Bordeaux region of France and produces deliciously bold and fruity Zinfandels.
Dry Creek Road begins at Healdsburg Avenue and works its way west into the Valley. A welcoming sign designates the gateway to the area with dozens of arrows pointing to wineries in so many different directions it reminds me of the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Itâ€™s now late October and vineyards covering the rolling hills are showing the lateness of the season with their red, gold, and orange colors. Harvest is coming to a close.