It’s been a long time since I’ve come back from a weekend feeling refreshed and inspired. But Dry Creek Valley will do that to you. It’s beginning to be one of my favorite places to visit in Sonoma County. It has great wineries, beautiful views, and is the setting for the fairytale that is Madrona Manor.
I had the lovely opportunity to stay at the historic inn this past weekend. It’s located near Healdsburg, CA, nestled in the hills above the valley. It’s a secluded eight-acre estate that’s surrounded by beautiful flower gardens and orchards.
The landscaped lawns and old oak trees add to the dreamy atmosphere of the estate.
Built in 1881, the Victorian mansion serves as a romantic country getaway. The estate holds 22 guest rooms that are both in the mansion and in carriage houses around the property.
I got to stay in Room 204 on the second floor of the mansion.
It’s a Master Suite with its own private balcony and an amazing view. It was so nice to sit out here in the afternoon and read a book.
But what I especially loved about my room is the way that it brings you back in time. It has original antiques, a chandelier, a cozy fireplace, a King-sized bed, and a clawfoot tub. If this is how people lived in the Victorian era, I want in!
I have a deep love for porcelain tubs. They get me every time! So, of course, part of my overnight was spent taking a hot bath, reading a book, with a glass of rosé.
But even with its old Victorian charm, the room included some modern-day surprises. For example, the bathroom has a rain shower and a makeup mirror. Perfect for getting ready for dinner in the evenings.
Speaking of dinner, make reservations at the manor’s Michelin star restaurant. If it’s a warm night, you’ll be eating out on the veranda. The food is excellent. I tried the onion velouté and the hand-cut pasta. So good! As for wine, there’s a sommelier on hand to answer any questions.
Oh, and I loved how they’d pull fresh herbs and produce from the garden for meals and cocktails. How cool is that?
My goodness, and all of that doesn’t already sound dreamy enough, one of my favorite spots on the estate was the pool. It’s nestled around what I liked to call the “secret garden”. Major fairytale vibes, right?
It’s a nice little spot to cool off and beat the Dry Creek Valley summer heat.
Since I had work to do during my stay (I know, I know), I enjoyed breakfast from the balcony in my room. But I would have loved to sit out on the mansion’s beautiful wrap around porch. That’s a fabulous way to start the day, I must say.
GETTING TO THE MANSION
Do you love it as much as I do? Great! So how do you get to this beautiful place?
The drive to the country inn is delightful, but you know me, of course, I took the scenic route. Here’s my recommendation for getting to the estate if you’re coming from San Francisco:
- Take US-101 North until you get to Santa Rosa.
- Be on the lookout for the River Road exit. It’s past Santa Rosa (closer to Fulton). Take a left onto River Road.
- Take a right on Wohler Road. You’ll get to Wohler Bridge that goes over the Russian River. Psst! That’s pretty much why I wanted to go this way.
- Once you’re over the bridge, you’ll turn on Westside Road. You’ll be on this road for a bit. Enjoy it. It’s one of those curvy, tree-lined country roads that make your heart flutter.
- Before W Dry Creek Road, you’ll see the yellow archway leading into the Madrona Manor estate.
This is definitely a round-about way to get there, but it’s also quite a lovely drive. You’ll be driving through the hills of Dry Creek Valley. There will be vineyards and rustic barns that will give you all kinds of photography FOMO. At least it did for me!
A more direct route can be mapped here.
THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA:
Drive (or bike) around: Easy enough, right? The drive through Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley is quite beautiful. There are all kinds of wineries along the back roads, so you can go at a leisurely pace and soak up the views.
Visit a few wineries: Allen, the concierge at Madrona Manor, gave me some great information about the area. He has all kinds of insider tips into what wineries to check out based on what kind of wine you love. He was super friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about anything wine country. Plus, he can set you up with a few complimentary wine tastings. Thank you, Allen!
Ferrari-Carano Winery was a pleasant surprise. I had it on my list because of the gardens. Because it’s such a big winery, I had assumed it wouldn’t be the peaceful retreat but rather a lot of hustle and bustle. I was quite wrong!
The entire estate is gorgeous. The staff is friendly and it has this lovely terrace overlooking the vineyard. I went on a Sunday afternoon and it was very relaxing. I enjoyed a glass of wine (the recommended Pinot Grigio) first.
Then I went and explored the garden. You’ll get to enjoy a walk through flowers, foliage, trickling brooks, benches and more.
Jordan Winery is an Instagram dream. Located in Alexander Valley, it’s appointment-only, so make sure to book ahead of time. But even without one (yes, that was me), a quick peek at the vine-covered chateau will make your heart flutter.
I can only imagine it’s even more beautiful in the fall when the vines are changing color. You can guarantee I’ll be back in September or October.
PRO TIP from Allen: A great choice all around. But make reservations! And do the tour and library tasting if you want to splurge (about $40 per guest). The selection is supposed to be superb.
Explore the city of Healdsburg: This is another thing I didn’t have enough time for, but would love to go back and explore a bit more. I was able to drive into the city and stop at the Historic city plaza. Take a trip around the block. The plaza itself is charming, and there are all kinds of restaurants and shopping. I stopped at the Downtown Bakery and Creamery for some ice cream while I walked around.
Other places on my list that I want to check out:
SHED: It just looks beautiful, right? And you can visit for a variety of reasons: To cook, to eat, to take a class, to shop and more!
Barndiva: A rustic red barn restaurant with “modern country cuisine” and creative cocktails. The food is fresh and the decor is “elegant barn chic”.
Lake Sonoma: This is the place to go if you have access to a boat or kayak. It feels a bit like a chain of lakes, which I can only imagine is incredibly fun to explore on weekends.
I opted for a quick vista view before heading out of the area. Next time I totally want to drive over that bridge!
Dry Creek General Store: This is a MUST visit if you’re in the area. It’s a great place to grab snacks and drinks for a picnic. It has hot and cold sandwiches, soups, fruits and vegetables, ceramics, knick knacks, and even an old-fashioned bar with saddle seats.
I discovered so many wonderful things during my visit to Dry Creek Valley. That’s why, as I mentioned earlier, it’s become one of my favorite weekend getaways. So much so that I’m even planning a trip back when my bestie visits me in October. And as you can imagine, it’s an amazing place to bring a sweetie for a romantic trip into wine country.
I adore this little corner of the world and I’m so very grateful to live close to such a beautiful place.
Thank you for having me, Madrona Manor. You’ve captured my heart and I’ll visit you again one day!
Let’s go places,
All photos on this blog are mine. Feel free to share but please credit me with a link back to the blog. Much appreciated and thank you for your support!
I have collaborated with Madrona Manor for this post. All opinions are mine.
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