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Dry Creek Valley Getaway

If you're in need of a vacation but only have a long weekend, pinpoint your plans by making a two- to three-day jaunt through the Dry Creek Valley in California Wine Country near San Francisco. You'll enjoy an in-depth introduction to all that's wonderful about the wine country.

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and in about an hour, you can be in Healdsburg, a charming spot cradled between the fertile Dry Creek and Alexander valleys. With its wine-tasting rooms, progressive restaurants, tiny boutiques, art galleries and antiques shops, the Victorian town provides a chic "base-camp" for your visit. Thanks to the nearly 50 wineries within 20 minutes of the tree-lined town square, you won't have to go far to take in a variety of wine-country sips.

So, What's To Drink?

The Dry Creek Valley is known for its Zinfandels -- bold red wines brimming with full-throttle California fruit and touches of spice. Some of the vines in the area are well over 100 years old (the older the vines, the more concentrated the fruit).

White-wine lovers need not go thirsty, however, as the Valley also produces renowned Sauvignon Blancs: Dry Creek Vineyard is among the first to plant the zippy grape in the area.

For a concentrated sampling of wineries, tool along and around Dry Creek Road. Here, you'll find a cluster of easy-to-find boutique wineries where you're likely to meet the owners themselves. Dutcher Crossing is a family-run spot pouring award-winning Zinfandels, Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays in a tasting room with a welcoming fireplace.

Sample small-production red wines at Yoakim Bridge Winery, set in an idyllic spot with its 1886 Victorian farmhouse overlooking the vineyards. Also visit Passalacqua Winery Tasting Room and Gardens, with its three tasting bars, wine-country gift shop and intimate garden arbors for picnics.

Dining and Entertainment

Healdsburg brims with restaurants and entertainment options. For breakfast, pop into the Downtown Bakery and Creamery, or get your morning Cup o' Joe at the Flying Goat Café, a local favorite for famously good coffee -- it's made from freshly roasted beans from the world's premier growing regions. Sometime during your visit, a picnic at a winery is a must -- Dry Creek General Store offers totable lunches you can enjoy while tooling around the valley. In the evenings, enjoy jazz at the Hotel Healdsburg bar, or check out the live music schedule at the Bear Republic Brewery.

Visit for a lodging and activities guide. Log onto for a free winery and lodging map.

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