Dry Creek Valley Land is special. This narrow valley is only a dozen miles long, but is home to some of the best Zinfandel made in the United States. Other wine varietals perform superbly here, but Zinfandel is the grape most in demand from wine makers and consumers. The hospitable grape growing conditions also make this a fine weather area, slightly hotter than Sonoma County as a whole, and free from the fog that is a staple in the Russian River Valley.
Residential real estate in Dry Creek Valley falls into three major categories. Along Dry Creek Road in the mile or so nearest Healdsburg there are a series of modest sized homes on small acreage parcels. These homes are within earshot (and eyeshot) of Highway 101 and tend to be older, often built in the 40’s and 50’s. Farther out and on W. Dry Creek Road as well, the homes are bigger, the lots are bigger, and the prices reflect a wine country estate lifestyle. Finally, in the upper hills on both sides of the valley, the lots are larger, but wooded rather than vine-covered. These are not farming estates, but residential parcels, often with spectacular views of the valley.
Interspersed with the residential real estate on the valley floor are the vineyards that make up the agricultural lifeblood of Dry Creek Valley and the wineries that bottle the essence of the grapes. Both the vineyards and wineries are in tough battles for economic survival and growth. The vineyards are dealing with fickle demand and changing tastes in the market. People that overplanted Merlot are stuck with grapes without buyers. The wineries face a slowdown in wine consumption that has left many with excess inventories and a relcuctance to commit to big grape purchases with an uncertain market. Still, people enter the vineyard and winery business for the long haul. Quick profits are not a likely outcome when you plant vines with multi-decade productivity or invest in wine that might sit for years before reaching its top potential. The views of grapes and wineries are likely to remain dominant elements of the landscape for a long time.
This mix of residential property types with vineyards and wineries creates a beautifully scenic neighborhood. On the other hand, the reality is that faming is farming whatever the crop. Sonoma County has a strong Right to Farm Ordinance which protects agriculture from the encroachment of residents who don’t like the odor of dairy farms, the sight of agricultural sulfur being applied in the early morning, or the sound of harvest or frost protection at 3 in the morning. Dry Creek Valley is not immune to the noise, chemicals, and slow-moving tractors that share the roads, particularly at harvest time.
List of Dry Creek Valley Wineries