Five Best Places to Spot Wildflowers in Sonoma County
Each spring, grapevines spring back to life after winter dormancy right in step with the burst of wildflower blooms in Sonoma County. Thanks to the long, wet winter, both vineyards and flowers are showing off their spring colors a bit later than usual this year, and experts say there won’t be a super bloom. But, there are still beautiful spring flowers to behold. Plant lovers are scrambling to Sonoma County’s many regional and state parks in search of elusive lupine and ubiquitous buttercups, but if you love the original plant-based drink (aka fine wine), Healdsburg is the perfect place to sate your love of both wildflowers and wine. Here are our five best places to spot wildflowers around Healdsburg with vineyards and wineries just steps away from the blooms. This list is updated with the latest sightings, though bloom length and locations seem unpredictable after such unusual winter weather. Enjoy the hunt.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Named Pollinator Partnership’s 2022 Monarch Sustainer of the Year, Jordan Winery has left much of its 1,200 acres uncultivated for wildflowers to show off their vibrant colors each spring. The conservation-focused producer of French-inspired wines has also dedicated several acres of land to creating native plant sanctuaries for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Each spring, Jordan hosts nature hikes during Earth Week, giving visitors a scenery lover’s trifecta—mountains, vineyards and wildflower views—all paired with a lovely lunch and wine tasting at the end of the excursion. Carpets of lupine, California poppies, mustard and red clover are just a few of the spring sights along the hiking trails at Jordan Estate. With Jordan’s Estate Tour & Tasting excursion, hosted from summer to fall, guests can meander through the pollinator garden at Vista Point and admire late-season blooms along the chauffeured drive. Reservations are required for both experiences. Details can be found in the Events and Visit sections of their website.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery, 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, CA, jordanwinery.com
Red Winery Road & Highway 128 in Alexander Valley
One of the most beautiful wine roads for wildflower spotting in Sonoma County is one of the least traveled. Just past the old Jimtown Store, turn left onto Red Winery Road and enjoy a sea of chamomile along the roadside, which almost spills into Simi’s vineyard. The wild chamomile clearly loved the cold-wet winter; it’s growing in bushes—almost knee-high—along Red Winery Road’s west side. Make a left onto Geysers Road to admire Garden Creek Vineyard’s merlot vineyard filled with tall mustard before making a right on Highway 128. There, you’ll be dazzled by hillsides of purple lupine and a patchwork of both gnarly, old vines and young vineyards. Orange poppies are buttercups were spotted in early April father north on the road. Along the way, book advance reservations for tastings at Robert Young, Garden Creek and Munselle Vineyards for intimate experiences with historic Alexander Valley grapegrowing families. De Lorimier and Hawkes tasting rooms also welcome walk-ins, but reservations are recommended.
Red Winery Road to Highway 128, Geyserville, CA
Lake Sonoma 1/2 Canoe & Other Trails
Lake Sonoma and its impressive cliffs lie just on the edge of the Dry Creek Valley and Rockpile wine regions. Beyond its well-known boat launches and camping grounds, this 2,500-acre reservoir and recreation area has a vast network of hiking trails, many of which are beloved my wildflower spotters. To reach Lake Sonoma, take Dry Creek Road through its eponymous wine valley, where mustard blooms typically carpet the old-vine zinfandel rows, though little was spotted last week. Continue on the Stewarts Skaggs Point Road—admire the hillsides covered with yellow broom—as the snaking road climbs above Lake Sonoma. Cross over the bridge to reach Lone Rock trailhead and parking area, which serves as a central point for 1/2 Canoe, Liberty Glen, Lone Rock and other nice hikes. Across the road from parking is access to 1/2 Canoe, Liberty Glen and Madrone Point hikes, all of which feature meadows and vista views of the mountains. Chamomile and lupine were spotted recently at 1/2 Canoe, though not a super bloom, and the Lone Rock trail through the archery grounds and past many fallen branches reveals a few rare purple lilies sprouting from the bed of fallen leaves on the ground. After your hike, enjoy a wine tasting at Sbragia Family Vineyards, or plan ahead and pick up a bottle of local wine and picnic provisions at Dry Creek General Store to enjoy at the Lake Sonoma picnic tables—located just before the bridge on the right-hand side. (This picnic spot is one of our favorite things to do in Sonoma County.) If visiting the north side of Lake Sonoma, Yorty Creek is known for having earlier blooms than other parts of Lake Sonoma, so call the Visitors Center first and ask about wildflower sightings. Wineries within 15-25 minutes of Yorty Creek include Peay Vineyards, Fritz and Blue Rock. (Because it’s a reservoir, Lake Sonoma is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, so there’s no fancy tourism website. Sorry!) AllTrails.com also has a handy guide to Lake’s Sonoma’s best hiking trails for wildflowers.
Lake Sonoma Recreation Area, Cloverdale & Geyserville, CA, spn.usace.army.mil.com
Riverfront Regional Park in Russian River Valley
Located in the heart of Russian River Valley’s prime pinot noir and chardonnay vineyards, this regional park is a hidden gem. Before reaching the park entrance, you’ll enjoy vistas of mustard growing in the vineyard rows below the elevated, meandering road. The park is well-equipped with picnic grounds, a redwood grove, two lakes and easy hiking trails. Wildflowers can be seen throughout the meadows.
Riverfront Regional Park, 7821 Eastside Road, Healdsburg, CA, parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov
Rodney Strong’s Russian River Bridge Vineyard
Less than a mile past Jordan Winery’s entrance, one of the region’s most glorious wild mustard super blooms springs to life near the banks of the Russian River—but not yet, as of last week. If traveling from Jordan and heading east, once you cross over the bridge, you’ll see Rodney Strong Vineyard’s rows of grapevines on both sides of the road. There’s usually a sea of yellow in the open spaces between the Bud Ranch Vineyard, and the blooms carpet the floor of this sauvignon blanc vineyard. If you don’t see the sea of yellow on the left when you reach the end of the bridge, you know you’ve missed the bloom. If it’s show time, pull off to the left shoulder of the road—there’s room for a few cars—and get ready to smile for those epic Instagram photos. This is one of those wildflowers spotting locations in Sonoma County that all of the locals talk about. Though Rodney Strong’s tasting room is not nearby, both Stuhlmuller Vineyards and Medlock Ames are less than five minutes by car—as is Jordan.
Rodney Strong’s Bud’s Ranch Vineyard, Alexander Valley Road at the Russian River Bridge, Healdsburg, CA
Stay tuned for more travel recommendations for wine and nature lovers.
Add Healsburg Ridge to the list! Wonderful, moderate trails through fields, hills, trees, with loads of wildflowers!