When is the last time you visited your favorite local Dry Creek winery? Living in wine country is absolutely amazing and we are so very fortunate to be able to experience so much here. Hiking the redwoods, camping under the stars, summiting mountains, walking along the beach, delicious food, and oh the wine…
Sonoma County has over 425 wineries and 18 AVAs! Whoa! There are so many to choose from and right now we are all hunkered down in Sonoma County so we are back to exploring the various creative wine tasting experiences, safely. This past month we have visited two small family-owned wineries in Dry Creek, Gustafson Family Vineyards and Zo Wines.
Gustafson Family Vineyards
At 1,800 feet above sea level, Gustafson Family Vineyards has stunning views of Lake Sonoma and land perfect for growing grapes above the fog.
Drive through Dry Creek Valley toward Lake Sonoma and follow Stewarts Point – Skaggs Springs Road as it winds its way up. There are a couple of turnouts with great views of the lake and are worth stopping at! Lake Sonoma also has great hiking trails that are great to do in the cooler months if you are up for a hike and then wine tasting!
All of wine country is by appointment only right now to follow Covid protocols. This also helps with knowing you will have a spot and the winery can manage the number of people on the property. We were lucky to have made reservations on a Sunday and were the only people tasting for our first 30 minutes. They have all the reservations staggered so people aren’t starting at running into each other at the same time. Already felt safer knowing this!
We ordered two different self-guided tasting flights, the Summit Flight and the Above the Fog Flight. This allowed us to taste as many wines as possible on our first visit here. A tasting includes 4 wines in your flight, a picnic table under the oak trees, or a bench overlooking the lake and vineyards reserved for up to 2 hours. You can bring your own picnic to enjoy along with your wine!
Even though this is a self-guided wine tasting, our tasting host was nearby and checked on us to see if we had any questions. They were very knowledgeable about their wines and the property. We had a ton of questions and they were so patient with us!
Gustafson Family Vineyards sits on 247 acres with only 20 acres planted with grapes. The family wants to preserve the land and is one of the many Sonoma County vineyards that are sustainably farmed. There is a vacation rental on the property that also hosts their wine club parties. The winemaker lives on the property as well and the staff is small but mighty. They are a fairly young winery for Sonoma County starting with 5 acres in 2004 and adding 15 more acres and several awards for their wines!
If you haven’t been, we highly recommend checking them out and make a reservation! We can’t wait to go back with friends to share the amazing wines and views as soon as this lockdown is over!
ZO Wines is a small boutique family-owned winery in Dry Creek Valley with an adorable guest house you can rent rooms in and truly immerse yourself in wine country! Not only do they have delicious wines but they also have a short vineyard walk down to Dry Creek!
Our self-guided wine tasting was truly self-guided! Owner and winemaker David Eckert greeted us on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the back behind the craftsman guesthouse with two paper bags, two glasses, and a bottle of water. Each bag contained 5 samples of wine in adorable sample bottles (wineries use these to send off wine samples to be tested but he repurposed them for visitors to taste!), a reusable picnic cup, and a small snack. The tasting menu included a QR code for the tasting video and a map of our walk. So perfect! David explained everything to us and then stepped back into the house to let us enjoy the experience. We had the tasting area all to ourselves!
David was on the video guiding us through each of the wines and telling the story of the young winery. He bought the winery/vineyards in 2012 and has won several awards for his wine since! His passion for growing sustainably, the community, and making well-balanced wines shows when talking with him.
After sampling the extra pour of rosé, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay we headed out on our short walk through the vineyards. It’s a beautiful property on the valley floor and backs up to Dry Creek. They have recently planted new varietals and we are excited to go back and try more in a few years, if not sooner!
The walk was great in the shade with a breeze but Dry Creek Valley can definitely be warm in the summer!
Back at our picnic table, we opened up our cheese and crackers to nibble on while tasting through the pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and zinfandel. All were delicious! We went home with a few bottles that will only be opened on a special occasion, maybe a Friday. 🙂
Check out their 10.7 acres of vineyards with 16 varietals next time you are in Dry Creek Valley! They are by appointment only and are building this amazing pagoda-style pavillion to host larger tasting groups once we can safely gather again.
We are trying to add more wine to our Hike Then Wine, leave a winery suggestion below!
Have you checked out our other wine adventures?
- Kunde Winery’s hike with wine tasting – Sonoma Valley
- Bartholomew Park Estate’s hike and tasting after – Sonoma Valley
- Benziger’s tour and tasting – Sonoma Valley
Things We Love
While we haven’t been able to get out picnicking in the park this year like we normally do, we have been able to use this HulaFish collapsible, insulated picnic basket to take with us wine tasting! It keeps snacks cool for our drive to the winery and since it is collapsible it stores nicely in our tiny condo!