The rolling green hills, the bicycles, the wineries…if Tuscany had an American counterpart it would be found an hour and fifteen minutes north of San Francisco in Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley. The mostly flat back-roads of the valley make exploring by bike easy, even for those with little or no road-biking experience. Bring your own iron horse or rent a bike from Wine Country Bikes in Healdsburg. John Mastrianni, a former competitive cyclist, has run this shop for three years and will properly fit you with a new Trek Pilot road bike or the more casual Trek Hybrid. Pedal along West Dry Creek Road, where picket fences, multiple wineries, and shady trees line both sides. Take a short detour across an old bridge where the Dry Creek General Store has all the deli fixings for a picnic lunch. Pack your food in the bike cooler and decide where to enjoy the feast. Quivira Vineyards' biodynamic winery (with 200 solar panels on the roof) has a large patio that looks out to Mount Saint Helena. A few more miles down the road and set on a hill are the wine caves of Bella Vineyards. Zins are Bella's flagship, and they taste especially fine with a picnic on the lawn under one of the big oak trees (pictured). Semplicemente bello.
Wine Country Bikes, 61 Front St., Healdsburg; 707-473-0610. They provide a detailed map of the wineries and routes; a rear-rack cooler is provided for any goodies acquired along the ride. Bike rentals start at $33 per day. Group bike tours are also available. If you have your own bike, park in central Healdsburg. To get there: from Highway 101, exit Central Healdsburg and make a left onto Mill St. Park at Safeway. Ride your bike west on Mill St., under Highway 101, and go a couple of miles. Veer right onto West Dry Creek Rd. and make it an out-and-back ride. Quivira is about 8 miles (one-way) from town, and Bella is about 12.5 (one-way). Taste with grace. Please be responsible about wine intake while operating your two-wheeler!