Only one day of my visit to see my son and family in Santa Rosa was a mostly sunny day, in contrast with rain the rest of the time. We took advantage of it to drive the southern part of Alexander Valley, one of three areas close to Healdsburg. On previous visits we had stopped at wineries in the Russian River and Dry Creek areas.
Alexander Valley is more open than the other two with beautiful rolling hills - green from all the rain - dotted with rows of vines plus oak trees. We took Chalk Hill Road to Highway 123 north for a while, then circled back to Healdsburg via Alexander Valley Road.
Our first stop was Hanna Winery. We passed on tasting but enjoyed seeing the unique tasting room and the views of the valley.
Our next stop was Soda Rock. Jim and Jenn did taste some wines and found a couple of bottles to buy, including a bottle of Malbec, one of George's favorite wines. This winery has a huge building which can accommodate wedding receptions and other events. Soda Rock is now one of the Wilson Artisan Wineries.
It was getting past lunch time for me so we turned off on Alexander Valley Road. We stopped for a quick look at the Alexander Valley RV Park and then headed to Francis Ford Coppola's winery for a look around and for lunch.
Lunch was good - Jim and I split a Caesar salad and a rack of lamb. Yum! Then we wandered around. Upstairs are many posters and items from his movies like Oscars and Don Corleone’s desk from The Godfather plus a collection of vintage olive oil cans. The ships were used in the filming of Marie Antoinette; a battle scene with them was filmed in a fountain. On the lower level is the candy apple red original Tucker car from Tucker: The Man and His Dream.
Outside are bocce courts, a pavilion for entertainment, and a pool and cabines. We were told that for $125 in season, you get the use of a dressing room with shower for up to four people, chaise lounges by the pool and a wine tasting. Apparently you can use the pool without renting a changing room but you won't be guaranteed a chaise lounge!
We did stop at two tasting rooms in Healdsburg to pick up some things. I sipped a few during the day but since I was driving, I sipped in moderation!The Alexander Valley makes a beautiful drive. With stops you might not get through the whole valley, but that wasn't our object. We enjoyed the scenery, the variety of wineries and sunshine for the first time in days. There are some other RV parks in the Healdsburg area so park the RV and take the tow or toad for a leisurely drive. Healdsburg is a cute town with lots of tasting rooms, art galleries and shops so make sure you include a stop there as well. I'm sure there are some wonderful places in town to eat at the end of the day. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak