Vines and oaks in Dry Creek Valley

 

Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and the Jimtown Store

-- click on thumbnails for larger image --

I'm on the right route ... entering Dry Creek Valley Rustic fence ... ... a contrast with the white plastic ones found further south
Long rows of vines Signpost directing you to the right vineyard ... and topped with the logo of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers

This ride follows the third of those shown in Santa Rosa Bike Club's list of ten favourite rides in Sonoma County.

It starts from the small town of Healdsburg and follows West Dry Creek Road north before turning into Geyserville and returning along the Alexander Valley.

A house on a knowle

Leaving Healdsburg on Westside Road you duck under Highway 101 and immediately find yourself in wine country.

Valley filled with vines

Fields of vines spread into the distance on both sides of the road.

These first vineyards were in the territory of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers. Their colourful logo was prominently displayed at the entrance to each yard.

Old barn ... coloured to match the foliage

At each junction a signpost directs you to nearby vineyards ... some posts held over 20 signs.

Yellows and browns

After a short distance I turned onto West Dry Creek Road to follow the valley northward.

Dry Creek Road undulates gently along the western side of the valley.

Dry Creek Road disappearing under an arch of trees

The Creek is dammed to the north-west to form the present day Lake Sonoma.

Need a transpersonal psychologist? ... you've come to the right place!

Autumn was well underway and the leaves were every shade of yellow and brown.

No welcome here Fallen leaves Must have satellite TV
Some flowers alongside the vines Moving onto Dry Creek territory One of the residences between the vineyards
Lines of vines disappearing into the distance Golden brown leaves

The vineyards along this road belong to the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley consortium.

Their logo consists of a bottle of wine being opened by a corkscrew fashioned from a vine branch.

Another private house

Each vineyard displays the Dry Creek Valley logo on their sign.

Backyard filled with leaves
Old Dry Creek Road undulating past autumn colours Old Dry Creek Road undulating past autumn colours No point turning up Chamise Road ...
... sounds dangerous ... Sign for 24 vineyards at Lambert Bridge Road Stopping by the turn-off for Lambert Bridge
A few grapes left on the vine Hills emerging from the mist in the distance More hills faintly visible in the distance
View across Dry Creek Valley Vines trained over supporting wires

The day had started cool and overcast with a mist hanging over the valley ... this was a pleasant change after days of warm sunshine further south.

Looks like this tractor is still used ...

Slowly small patches of blue sky appeared and some of the surrounding hills emerged from the mist.

Biodynamic?

West Dry Creek road loops around a small creek and then passes the turn-off for Lambert Bridge.

... doesn't look like this wagon is used

At Lambert Bridge Road a sign points the way to some twenty four nearby vineyards.

One more bend

As promised ... I then passed a cluster of vineyards abutting the road.

One farm had a range of interesting old rusty machinery strewn by the road ... trucks, ploughs and an old circular saw.

An old rake ... and an old shed A decidedly autumnal view Chicane
Williamson Vineyard Yet more Autumn colour An old truck
Deep red leaves on the trees More blue in the sky Faloni Ranch
I make it 49,141 Cloud lifting quickly

After Lambert Bridge the route continues to wind its way north along West Dry Creek Road.

Pillsbury Vineyards

As the sun rose higher the low cloud lifted in rolls ...

Close up of vines

... revealing more of the hills in the distance.

At the next junction I turned to join Yoakim Bridge Road and crossed the (dry) creek.

Another twelve vineyards No outlet ... better avoid it than Yoakim Bridge Road / West Dry Creek Junction
Surrounding hills becoming clearer as the mist melts away Raymond Burr Vineyards

This took me onto Dry Creek Road and ... after a short distance ... I turned onto Canyon Road to begin the first (and only) real climb of the day.

This would take me over from Dry Creek Valley into Alexander Valley to the east.

The canyon was home to many more vineyards ... who all were displaying their allegiance to the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley.

Zichichi Vineyards Not far to Geyserville Dry Creek / Canyon Road Junction
Fortunately it was neither wet nor icy Sandhu Vineyards Pedroncelli Bonded Store
The gates of Olive Hill Cemetery Starting the descent into Alexander Valley

Canyon Road climbs steadily for some 60 metres before topping out alongside the elegant gates of Olive Hill Cemetery.

There seems to be something rather appropriate about having a cemetery at the top of a hill.

Joining Highway 128

From the cemetery I freewheeled down the other side ... passed under Highway 101 for a second time ... and stopped at the junction with Highway 128.

Old lumber truck

Signs on an old red barn opposite advertised Geyserville's Fall Colors Festival and Street Fair.

Get your hand off my knee!

It was just a short flat ride into Geyserville.

Old cemetery truck!?

By the time I arrived the fair was in full swing ... and the streets and verges were packed with people ... bringing traffic to a crawl.

As well as stalls ... the main street in this small town were lined with vintage and classic cars and trucks.

Shiny engine on display Another shiny engine Yet another
Shiny grill on display Another shiny grill Yet another
Geyserville

Thousands of hours of effort must have gone into building and preparing these vehicles ... my dusty bike looked exceedingly shabby in comparison.

Crossing Russian River

Still it was a chance to have a quick drink before tackling the final part of the ride.

Fishing in the Russian River

Highway 128 leaves Geyserville and crosses the Russian River to reach the eastern side of Alexander Valley.

Welcome to Alexander Valley

The river had plenty of water in it from the recent downpours ... and a fisherman was wading below the bridge ... trying his luck.

Blue skies at last Wasson Vineyards Casino traffic not welcome here
More Wasson Vineyards Murphy-Goode Vineyards

Fortunately Highway 128 is relatively quiet ... so I was able to take in the expanding views.

I passed a fairly discrete casino ... and numerous vineyards ... which belong to the Alexander Valley Winegrowers association.

Turn off to the Geysers

At the next junction the sign indicated that the Geysers were 16 miles ahead.

Leaves on the turn

Unfortunately I didn't have time to visit them ... and missed the opportunity to see a geyser that erupts 60' into the air every 30 seconds ... oh ... and the opportunity to climb up to 2,250'

Turn off to the Geysers Blue skies continue ... Junction for Geysers Road
Well trained vines Underground wine storage

I turned off Geysers Road onto Red Winery Road.

A winery along here had a massive underground storage area built into the hillside.

Must be some profits to be made in wine A straight bit of Red Winery Road Robert Young Vineyards
They've got to install the clock Even more blue skies Fall Creek Vineyard
Flowers make a change from vines Red Winery Road Blue skies again
Cyclists returning from Pine Flat Road

Red Winery Road ends at a T junction with Pine Flat Road.

Cyclists disappearing into the distance

This road climbs steeply to 3,124' and provides excellent views back over the valley.

Unfortunately it is a no through road so you have to return the way you went ... ... but local cyclists still regard it as one of the best rides in the valley.

Healdsburg / Clistoga Junction

As I arrived at the junction four cyclists returned down Pine Flat Road.

Jimtown Store

They suggested that this foreign cyclist stop at the Jimtown Store.

The store was only a few hundred metres further on ... and over 20 bikes were piled outside.

Jimtown Store Healsburg / Geyserville Junction Alexander Valley Store ... and Bar
Re-crossing Russian River West Soda Rock Lane

Inside they were obviously well used to meeting cyclists needs ... with hot and cold drinks and piles of locally made cakes ... and even cycling maps.

Eating my supplies on the veranda I was quizzed as to how I'd found my way to this part of California.

I took the opportunity to ask them which were the best rides in Sonoma County ... but there were almost as many different recommendations as there were cyclists ... they all had their own favourite corners.

Halloween Scarecrow Halloween Scarecrow Halloween Scarecrow Halloween Scarecrow Halloween Scarecrow Halloween Scarecrow Halloween Scarecrow
Whipp Vandenburg Winery Crossing Highway 101 again

Eventually I had to drag myself away from the store.

Many of the local farms and houses were getting ready for halloween ... one having a display of over twenty scarecrows on display on their fence posts.

Definitely the end of the season Wilson Winery More of Wilson Winery
Dusty fields Kinley Drive

All that was left to do was to loop round the north west of Healdsburg ...

... and see whether it offered a café as welcoming as the Jimtown Store..

 

Kirby James