Bike and Sip: Wine Tasting in Healdsburg

by Katie Cook

Sonoma residents affectionately refer to San Franciscans as lizards. We slither out from the San Francisco fog to bask in Sonoma’s sunshine. The life of a lizard is pretty grand- especially when cycling through vineyards in search of the perfect glass of wine. Cycling past rows of grape vines, colorful barns and sheds, majestic oak trees, and fragrant rose bushes encourages even the novice biker to slow down and enjoy the ride. The majority of this easy 15-mile self-guided bicycle ride takes place on narrow roads with gently rolling hills and little traffic.

Our ride begins at Wine Country Bikes in Healdsburg.  Located at 61 Front Street (at Hudson Street), Wine Country Bikes is close to downtown Healdsburg and only 6 miles from the first winery on our list. Wine Country Bikes offers a variety of bicycles for rent at reasonable prices and they have plenty of insider information regarding the wineries in the area. The bikes come with an insulated storage bag that’s perfect for carrying a small picnic lunch and a bottle of wine.

On your shiny new wheels, ride down Hudson Street towards Mason Street. Make a left onto Haydon Street, a right onto East Street, followed by a left onto Mill Street. Stay on Mill Street. After you pass Highway 101 Mill Street turns into Westside Road. Make a right onto West Dry Creek Road. The scenery on West Creek Road is absolutely stunning. Ride along West Creek Road for five miles until you see Lambert Bridge Winery on your left.

One of the furry ambassadors at Lambert Bridge Winery.

Founded in 1975 Lambert Bridge Winery is named after the single-lane bridge that crosses over Dry Creek. The large tasting room has dark, wood paneling, smooth cement floors, and several large four-legged ambassadors including a yellow lab, a St. Bernard, and a Great Pyrenees. The two sets of clear glass doors lead to the Barrel Room that can be reserved for private events or large group tastings. Outside, Lambert has beautiful gardens and a large picnic area complete with patio umbrellas and a shaded gazebo. Lambert offers two tasting options. The Classic Tasting features five wines (two whites and three reds) and costs $15. The Signature Tasting, held in the Barrel Room, costs $25 and includes a tasting of five of their limited production wines.

When you’re ready to head to the second winery, hop on your bike, exit through Lambert Bridge’s main gates and make a left onto West Dry Creek Road.  Make your first right onto Lambert Bridge Road and bike over the single-lane bridge. Passalacqua Winery is located just over the bridge at 3805 Lambert Bridge Road.

Passalacqua Winery is a small family-owned winery that was founded prior to 1900. Originally located in downtown Healdsburg (at the current location of Healdsburg Junior High School), Passalacqua is one of the oldest wineries in Healdsburg. The winery was originally run by a “spit-fire” of a lady who kept the winery alive through prohibition and rough economic times. The winery is still run by the same family and the Estate Zinfandel helps keep the family tradition alive. Passalacqua offers free tastings of their Sauvignon Blanc or your can purchase a tasting of four reds and a white for $15.

Tony, at Passalacqua Winery, is a knowledgeable storyteller.

Soak up all that wine with a bit of lunch at the Dry Creek General Store. As you leave Passalacqua make a left onto Bridge Road. Less than a quarter mile away you’ll come to the intersection of Bridge Road and Dry Creek Road.  The Dry Creek General Store is just on the other side of Dry Creek Road, at 3495 Dry Creek Road.

The Dry Creek General Store is open from 6:30am to 5:30pm Monday through Saturday, and from 7am to 5:30pm on Sundays. The Store has a fantastic deli featuring hot and cold sandwiches and a variety of pre-made salads and side dishes. Outside there are plenty of long picnic tables in the sun or the shade. The Dry Creek General Store is very popular and the deli lines can get quite long.

Leave the Dry Creek General Store and head to your last winery for the day. Proceed with caution as you make a left onto the heavily traveled Dry Creek Road. Ride along Dry Creek Road for about a half-mile and then make a left onto Lytton Springs Road. Lytton Springs Road is a hilly, quiet road.  Some of the uphill climbs are long- guaranteed to burn off any lunchtime indulgence. Continue on Lytton Springs Road, pass the airport, and look for Chiquita Road. Ridge Winery is located at 650 Lytton Springs Road (at Chiquita).

Ridge Winery prides itself on its sustainable practices. The winery is set on a hill overlooking rows of vineyards. The winery building was constructed from straw bales and vineyard clay and is run on solar power. Enjoy your wine tasting on their shaded vineyard terrace. Ridge offers three tasting options. Their Single Vineyard tasting is $5, the Estate Single Vineyard tasting is $10, and their Estate Single Vineyard with Monte Bello is $20. You can also reserve ahead of time to participate in their tour and tasting. For $30 per person this small group tour (10-person limit) allows you access to their vineyard and winemaking facilities, and concludes with the Estate Single Vineyard with Monte Bello tasting.

It’s now time to head home. To get back to Wine Country Bikes exit Ridge Winery and make a left onto Chiquita. Enjoy the mostly downhill ride and make a right at onto Grove Street. Stay on Grove Street for a while until you come to North Point. Make a left onto North Point and then a right onto Healdsburg Avenue. This takes you through downtown Healdsburg and past the main plaza. Make a left onto Matheson and a right onto First Street. First Street turns into Front Street and Wine Country Bikes is on your right.

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