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Garden discoveries in the wine country.

"Wineries are in show business." So says George Matson, gardener at Piper-Sonoma Cellars, in Healdsburg, California. Consequently, many wineries have attractive landscapes that help nourish good public relations, and observant visitors may blend delight with instruction by carrying home useful ideas.

Here are eight wineries in the still rural and relatively uncrowded Russian River valley. You could visit them all in a weekend. Some keep regular tasting hours, some offer tours, and some (note carefully) may be visited only by appointment.

Equip yourself with a good, detailed map of the region before negotiating Sonoma County's charming but often confusing rural roads. Numbered listings are keyed to the map; area code is 707.

1. Iron Horse Ranch and Vineyards, 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol. This road runs west from State 116 a short distance north of Guerneville Road. Ever-changing displays of flowers surround the owners' home. Dwarf fruits and meticulously trained cane berries are a backdrop for herbs and vegetables grown in raised stone beds or half-barrels.

To arrange a visit (by appointment only), call 887-2913.

2. Korbel Champagne Cellars, 13250 River Road, Guerneville; 887-2294. Look for the broad facade and banks of flowers that mark this historic winery. Garden tours take you beneath redwoods to a notable garden of antique roses. Heat- and drought-tolerant plants buttress a terrace for tasting. Spring through fall, garden tours are available between 10 and 4 daily except Mondays. Cellar tours are offered all year.

3. Hop Kiln Winery, 6050 Westside Road, Healdsburg; 433-6491. (Turn left off River Road just before the Russian River Bridge.) Tall stacks crowning the winery belong to a building once used for drying hops; hop vines still grow on trellises against the building's front. The garden displays native plants and drought-resistant perennials.

Tasting room hours are 10 to 5 daily. There's also a picnic ground.

4. Piper-Sonoma Cellars, 11477 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg. A bridge crosses a water lily pond surrounded by a garden planted for year-round flower color and water conservation. In summer, Matilija poppies and pink Mexican evening primroses will be in bloom.

Hours are 10 to 5 daily (tours and tastings are by appointment, but you can buy wine to sip or carry); 433-8843.

5. Jordan Vineyard and Winery, 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg. (Read street numbers carefully; driveway entrance is unmarked.) Here you see a landscape rather than a garden. The magnificent winery structure is set off by terraced banks covered by a hip-deep carpet of closely set, smooth-sheared Texas privet plants. Visits (for small groups only) are by appointment; call 433-6955.

6. Dry Creek Vineyard, 3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg. (From Dry Creek Road, turn left onto Lambert Bridge Road.) The informal garden here has a picnic area and changing displays of bright flowers. Railroad ties separated by piers of loose-laid brick divide lawn from flower beds a good quick edging that could become permanent.

Hours are 10:30 to 4:30 daily except major holidays; telephone is 433-1000.

7. Preston Vineyards and Winery, 9206 W. Dry Creek Road (take Lambert Bridge Road to its end, then turn right and continue past Yoakim Bridge Road to the winery driveway). Low-water-use plants are the feature here, along with herbs, an imposing rose trellis, and a boccie court. Hours are 11 to 3 weekdays, 11 to 4 weekends; telephone is 433-3372.

8. Fetzer Vineyards. Tasting room and Sundial Restaurant are at 13500 S. Highway 101, Hopland. The garden is at Valley Oaks Food and Wine Center, 314 mile east on State Highway 175.

This splendid garden shows that true organic gardening can be productive and supremely attractive at the same time. Garden beds are double-dug and improved with compost and natural mineral additives. Essentially a test garden for vegetables and fruits, the garden is also lavish with flowers. The garden is open to visitors from 9 to 4 daily. Guides conduct tours at 10 and 4 daily (also at noon and 2 on weekends).

The tasting room is open from 8:30 to 5 (to 5:30 on weekends). The Sundial serves lunch from 11:30 to 2 and dinner from 5:30 to 9:30; it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Call 744-1-328.

A Celebration of American Regional Cuisine will take place July 15, with wine and produce tastings and cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs. Cost is $50 per person. Call (415) 680-7422.
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Title Annotation:Russian River valley
Article Type:Directory
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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