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Lancaster Estate Winery
15001 Chalk Hill Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.8178
Tucked away amongst the rolling hills of the Alexander Valley, Lancaster Estate is ideal for a luxurious wine country experience. This Alexander Valley winery produces top notch Bordeaux style wines. The founder and wine maker of Lancaster Estate have tailored their 53 acre hillside property to ensure proper growth and maximize the terroir. Limited edition luxury wines are found at Lancaster Estate in Alexander Valley.

Armida Winery
2201 Westside Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.2222
Too often, a winery will have a slightly monotonous tone that rings through all the wines. Not here. The 2003 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc ($16) is tart and a bit flinty with lemony overtones. What Armida has always done especially well are busty Zins, like the Tre Torrente Vineyard '03 Zin. Open daily, 11am to 4pm. Regular tasting list is free; $2 for additional reserve tastings.

Bella Vineyards
9711 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.473.9420
Well off the beaten path, Bella is a wonderful find at the farthest end of West Dry Creek Road, just past its more well-known neighbor, Preston Winery. Bella Vineyards specializes in old-vine Zinfandels and the occasional Syrah. Open daily, 10am-5pm.

Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery
8761 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.6700
Through the years, Ferrari-Carano wines have found their place among some of the most highly respected wines in Sonoma... and California. Not bad for founders Don and Rhonda Carano. The Villa reflects the Caranos' Italian heritage and desire for peace and tranquility. Grand gardens and lush vegetation surround the majestic hospitality center/tasting room. Just watch out for the drooling pig. Tasting room open 10am to 5pm.

Field Stone Winery
10075 Hwy. 128, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.7266
Field Stone winery is actually built into the hill, carved out in the late 1970s as one of the first modern underground wineries. After years of experimentation with different varietals, reds have come to rule at Field Stone. Open daily, 10am to 5pm. No tasting fee.

Foppiano Vineyards
12707 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.7272
A 100-(plus)-year-old winery nestled in the heart of the Russian River Valley, Foppiano has weathered more than a century of winemaking and come up with a recipe for some simple, yet incredibly nice, reds that don't need a million dollar marketing machine to sell. Open daily, 10 am to 4:30pm. No tasting fee.

Gallo of Sonoma Winery
320 Center St., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.2458
Best known for the convenience-store staples Thunderbird, Boones Farm, Hearty Burgundy and Ripple, Gallo has, since the mid-'80s, worked to create a premium line of wines worthy of something more than a screw top and change from a $5 bill. Open Sunday-Wednesday, 11am-5pm; Thursday through Saturday, 11am-7pm. Tasting fees vary.

Hop Kiln Winery
6050 West Side Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.6491
This former brewery has some of the best grounds around, including a small garden, pond and plenty of critters for the young-uns to chase around. With plenty of snacks and goodies to sample along the way--as well as hot bread for your picnic--all you need is wine, which comes prechilled for the asking. Open daily, 10am to 5pm. Regular tastings are free.

J Winery
11447 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.431.3646
J Winery in Healdsburg seems to come up on a lot of favorite tasting room lists, along with much of the rest of the Russian River Valley. Just off of Highway 101, J is a great place to start out a day of winetasting through the valley. Open daily, 11am-5pm. Bubble room open Friday-Sunday, 11am-4:30pm. Food and winetasting fee, $10 (buy it!).

Michel-Schlumberger Winery
4155 Wine Creek Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.7427
The simple, Spanish-style, stucco-and-tile building has a large, open-air courtyard and rectangular wading pond at its center, with French doors all around leading into a cozy tasting room. By appointment only.

Passalacqua Winery
3805 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.5575
Like so many of the Dry Creek Valley wineries, Passalacqua is charming and quaint with a local, family-run-winery-thing going on, yet it is very serious about making some really nice wines. Passalacqua focuses on red wines but has a surprisingly good Chardonnay. Open daily, 10am-5pm.

Preston Vineyards
9282 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.3372
This Dry Creek Valley winery sits far north on West Dry Creek Road, with a sign at the entrance detailing the rules of the winery. No outside wine, limited picnic facilities, no beer and, oh, feel free to hug the cats. It's a lovely place, with organic vegetables for sale near the door and some of Preston's homemade bread almost always for sale. Open daily, 11am to 4:30pm. Tasting fee, $3.

Quivira Vineyards
4900 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 1.800.292.8339
The tasting room features plenty of handcrafted Zins, Quivira's hallmark, though the winery is at the forefront of the fast-moving Rhone bandwagon with several Syrahs and a soon-to-be released vintage blend with Grenache, Mourvedre Syrah and Zinfandel (2002 Steelhead Red). Open daily, 11am to 5pm. Tastings free; picnicking available.

Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs
650 Lytton Springs Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.7721
The tasting room is a great example of environmentally conscious construction, using hay bales as both building material and insulation, and outer walls constructed from vineyard clay, sand and straw. Open daily, 11am to 4pm. Regular tastings are free; $15 for Monte Bello Tastings (so worth it!).

Rodney Strong Winery
11455 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 1.800.678.4763
The staff at Rodney Strong are remarkably friendly and helpful, giving no customer pressure to leave with a couple of cases of wine. Most wines are in the $18 to $28 range, making them approachable dinner and entertaining wines. Open daily, 10am-5pm. Free tasting for many wines; $3 each for some special reserve wines.

Rosenblum Cellars
250 Center St., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.431.1169
Rosenblum ain't about the hype. Though the winery is housed in some of the highest-rent property in the already high-rent town of Healdsburg, the snob factor just doesn't register here. Like so many other big Zin producers, Rosenblum likes things a little offbeat. Open from 10am to 5pm daily. No tasting fee.

Roshambo Winery
3000 Westside Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.431.2051 or 1.888.525.VINE
Located at the southern end of the Russian River Valley, Roshambo is carving a niche in spicy, saucy Zins, most notably with the 2000 and 2001 Dry Creek and Olson Vineyards releases. Owner Naomi Johnson loved playing the rock-paper-scissors game Roshambo as a child growing up in Japan (where it is called jan ken pon), and as a tribute to her mixed Californian-Japanese heritage and her skill at the shake, the winery's name just stuck. Open daily, 10:30am-4:30pm. Tastings free; picnicking available.

Sausal Winery
7370 Hwy. 128, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.5136
Sausal Winery is the kind of quintessential family-run operation that's been in the business for generations, creating simple, everyday wine for simple, everyday folks. Open daily, 10am-4pm. Regular tastings are free.

Seghesio Family Winery
14730 Grove St., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.3579
Zinfandel accounts for the bulk of Seghesio's production and has been heralded as some of the best in the state. The tasting room itself, located just outside of Healdsburg, is remarkable only in its view of the large barrel rooms just behind the counter. So much wine, so little time. Open daily, 10am-5pm. No tasting fee.

Simi Winery
16275 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.473.3213
Simi is one of the most popular destination wineries in Dry Creek. Simi is renowned for its Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, all of which are pretty darned tasty--and worth the seemingly endless wait. The tasting room is open from 10am to 5pm daily. $5 tasting fee.

Thumbprint Cellars
36 North St., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.2393
Calling its output "micro-wines," Thumbprint Cellars has a lock on Pinot Noirs, garnering a Best Pinot Noir accolade for its 2001 Russian River Pinot ($32) from readers of the North Bay Bohemian newspaper and a gold medal at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair for its 2002 Russian River Pinot ($36). No tasting fee. Open daily, 11am to 6pm.

Toad Hollow Vineyards
409-A Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.431.8667
Founded by Todd Williams (Robin Williams' half-brother) and Rodney Strong, the Toad Hollow winery has always been about having a good time and selling some nice $10-$14 wines. The tasting room sits off Healdsburg's main square and is a cozy affair with lots of cute frog kitsch. Open daily, 10:30am to 5:30(ish)pm.

Unti Vineyards
4202 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 707.433.5590
Unti's Italian-style wines are best drunk young. With little pretension and an eye toward big fruit, easy oaks and everyday drinking, you'd be foolish to hide these wines away for long, though they do benefit from breathing a bit after opening. By appointment only. No tasting fee.

Windsor Vineyards
308-B Center St., Healdsburg (Sonoma County), California; Tel. 800.204.9463
Windsor was started in 1959 by local legend Rodney Strong, who had the idea to create the customized labels for his wine-buying clients. The company now claims to have some 1 million customers worldwide. That's a lot of labels.

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