With the throes of winter behind us and summer just around the corner, March is a great time to hit up white wine country* for a crisp, clean vintages that pair well with salads, seafood and other warmer weather meals. It's also a convenient time to travel up the 101 around Healdsburg as the mustard flowers are still in bloom, the grasses are still green and Wine Road's second Barrel Tasting weekend starts on Friday (though you must buy tickets to participate). Or you can avoid the crowds and sample these whites on weekdays and/or off-weekends with locals and tourists more dedicated to the sauvignon and fume blancs, oaked and unoaked chardonnays and pinot gris.
And as an added bonus, with these varietals, no one will ever know if you spill a drink on your new white shirt… not that that's happened to us. Nope. Not once. Especially not while researching a piece on vineyards in the area. Sigh.
*Yeah, yeah. There's no such thing as white wine country… but Dry Creek and Anderson Valley come pretty darn close.
9280 Highway 128
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Hanna WineryWith two tasting rooms (one in the Russian River Valley and one in Alexander Valley) and more than 600 acres, the Hanna Winery has come a long way from its humble family farm beginnings and homemade vintages. The 25-year-old label boasts a large variety of wines, one of which is a highly esteemed Savignon Blanc. The Alexander Valley tasting room offers private tastings and lessons on food pairing, which is hardly a surprise to anyone who has seen vineyard president Christine Hanna's wine-centered cookbook. Hanna also encourages visitors to bring their meals and enjoy a picnic on their lovely grounds.
Dry Creek Vineyards
3770 Lambert Bridge Road
Dry Creek VineyardsObviously you can't discuss the white wines of northern Sonoma County without mentioning Dry Creek Vineyard, as it remains a pioneer in the field – 38 years after they first created vintages in the tradition of France's Loire Valley. Dry Creek's Fumé Blanc remains their signature wine, though their latest sauvignon and chenin blancs are nothing to sniff at (unless you're sniffing, swirling and sipping). When visiting the tasting room, be sure to ask about food pairings and recipes created for various varietals.
4900 W Dry Creek Rd
Healdsburg, CA 95448
QuiviraThe organic, biodynamic Quivera Vineyard and Winery has created a self-sustainable environment – complete with bees for plant pollination, solar panels, lush gardens, a reclaimed creek for salmon and trout spawning, chicken condos and Ruby the pig. Wait, what? Confused as to how a pig relates wine? Don't worry, Quivera is more than happy to explain biodynamic farming and how healthy soil creates incredible wines.
1401 Westside Rd
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Mill Creek WineryMill Creek doesn't have a functioning mill and the creek is probably landscaped. But when you're sipping a delicious sauvignon blanc from their upper picnic area that looks out over mountain ranges and Dry Creek Valley, it really won't matter.
12707 Old Redwood Highway
Foppiano VineyardsFoppiano Vineyards, established in 1896, helped establish the area for American viticulture. Still family owned and operated, this stop just south of Healdsburg offers a gorgeous self-guided vineyard tour that lets you view grape varietals up close. And though Foppiano is best known for their petite sirah, their sauvignon blanc and chardonnay are both worthy of a white wine tour.
125 Matheson Street
Topel WineryLike many in this area, Topel Winery is best known for full-bodied reds. However, when visiting Healdsburg, it's worth popping in just to sample the selection of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and white table wines.
Rodney Strong Vineyards
11455 Old Redwood Highway
Rodney StrongRodney Strong boasts five different white wines – four chardonnays and one sauvignon blanc. A signature winery of Sonoma County, Rodney Strong also plays host to a number of impressive events including summer concerts and a "Wine and Chocolate Fantasy."
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