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Give yourself time to get into the character of the Alexander Valley.  You’ll lose out if you whiz by on Highway 101!  Get off the freeway in Geyserville and meander along highway 128, a lovely country road.  Despite repeated attempts to make Geyserville the newest wine country destination, it remains a sleepy town graced with old Victorians and a vast underground supply of hot water. This valley is a stunning corner of Sonoma County and home to more than 40 wineries, each producing distinctive wines.  20 miles long, the Alexander Valley stretches north to Cloverdale. The northernmost appellation in Sonoma, its temperatures soar the highest.

Alexander Valley Vineyards

The founders of AVV winery bought a chunk of the original homestead once owned by Cyrus Alexander, the mountain man who then worked a ranch, became a landowner, and planted the valley’s first grapes in 1846.  Historical sites dot the estate, including a schoolhouse Alexander built in 1853 and the family gravesite behind the winery.  There are tours of the huge wine caves by appt.   While you’re there, taste the flagship Bordeaux-style wine, Cyrus, which honors the early grower and the Valley’s namesake.

The Tasting Room

While you’re in Geyserville, head over to the cooperative tasting room on Geyserville Rd. and Highway 128.  They pour wine from 10 of Northern Sonoma’s boutique wineries.  These wineries create some of the best wines made from vineyards throughout California, ranging from the Central Coast to Mendocino County.  You may choose to taste wines by varietal, region, or stay within the different wine of the same winery.  It’s a great experience, and it’s all under one roof.

Taverna Santi

There are plenty of dining options in Healdsburg, some might say a lifetime’s worth.  Taverna Santi, in the heart of Geyserville, is a unique option.  Geyserville is a one-street town, but this upscale bistro has flourished since it opened.  Their Italian food is simply superb, and the restaurant and patio are friendly and relaxed.  When you dine at Taverna Santi, it’s not about the architectural design or décor, it’s about the food.  The menu is a solid combination of Italian classics mixed with imaginative Italian cuisine.  The wine list has plenty of good, Italian-style wines made by local wineries.

Jimtown Store

Pull up to the yellow and green Jimtown Store, and you’ll feel as if you just climbed inside a movie set.  The bright red vintage pickup parked outside is a great place to take a photo! Jimtown sells a little of everything, including their own wine.  Located at 128 and Alexander Valley Rd. in Healdsburg, Jimtown offers one of the best values for a terrific boxed lunch made with local foods.

River Rock Casino

Cutting a swath of land out of a rolling hillside to build a casino might not be your notion of a good idea.  On the other hand, if you like a game of chance, this is the place to go.  Built on the 85-acre Pomo Rancheria, the casino is jointly owned by a Nevada gaming company and the Pomo Indian Tribe.  If you’re traveling companion likes to gamble and you don’t, go along for the views.  The casino has a sweeping vista that takes in much of the Alexander Valley.  With 1,600 slot machines, and 16 tables, who knows? You might even get lucky!