Dry Creek Vineyard was a pioneering project when it was started in 1972. David Stare was working for the railroad in the late 1960s when he realized his real passion was for wine, especially the wines he’d come to love during vacations to the Loire Valley. He enrolled in the viticulture program at the University of California at Davis and in 1972 found an old orchard to buy in Dry Creek Valley. He planted Sauvignon Blanc against the advice of nearby grape growers, who said the grape wouldn’t succeed in Dry Creek Valley. Within a few years the estate was producing Fume Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Dry Creek Vineyard was the first estate in Dry Creek Valley since Prohibition and the first to use the Dry Creek Valley appellation. Today the estate has 185 acres of vineyards and is still owned and operated by the Stare family, though the president is now daughter Kim Stare Wallace. Tim Bell is winemaker. The estate is known for Fume Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and especially its Zinfandel, which is consistently complimented by reviewers. Robert M. Parker Jr. has called the estate “one of the historic wineries...Dry Creek is among the pioneers in the movement for high-quality Zinfandels.”
Sonoma County is not an AVA, but it is a commonly used informal designation for wines made outside of more specific AVAs within Sonoma, which is a large wine producing region just west of Napa Valley. Though Sonoma is often overshadowed by its glamorous neighbor Napa Valley, it has a long history of wine production. The area specialized in jug wine until the mid-20th century, when Sonoma producers took a cue from Napa and started improving quality. Unlike Napa, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king, Sonoma specialized in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, though excellent Cabs are produced too. There are at present 16 AVAs within Sonoma County, and, like much of the West Coast of the United States, new AVAs are created in Sonoma County with regularity. Some Sonoma appellations, such as the Russian River Valley, are renowned for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.