Tuesday, December 1, 2009
A Little Taste Of Dry Creek In Iowa
On the final day of WBC09 last July, we were treated to a picnic lunch at Dry Creek Vineyard, a winery in the northern Sonoma County town of Healdsburg. It seemed like a magical place and though it wouldn't be until after I arrived home that I learned of the history of this winery, I was happy to have visited and looked forward to the day when I could go back and re-visit. The short amount of time we spent there just wasn't enough to satisfy my appetite for such a beautiful place!
About a month ago, I learned that the President of Dry Creek Vineyard, Don Wallace, would be making a promotional trip here to our fair city of Des Moines. I was excited to meet him and to discuss the wines and the winery at length. So on that Thursday evening, I headed to Hy-Vee, a local grocery store, to meet the man in person. There was a tasting of Dry Creek Vineyard wines, free and open to the public.
Don was very personable and kind enough to give me the background on the winery and how it came to be. Dry Creek Vineyard had been the dream of his father-in-law, David Stare. David, who was MIT-educated and worked for the railroad in New England, had fallen in love with the wines of the Loire Valley in France. Eventually, he moved his family to Sonoma County after realizing he wanted to become a winemaker. Once in California, he started from scratch, going to school and learning the ropes of winemaking. Finally, in 1972, he broke ground for what would become his winery and his passion. The family also has a passion for sailing which is reflected in the beauiful labels that adorn their wine bottles.
The wines speak for themselves and the winery produces many of them. I got to taste quite a few, my favorites highlighted below:
2008 Dry Chenin Blanc--I consider this wine a sort of flagship for their white varietals. Chenin Blanc is a varietal best known in the Loire Valley of France. Dry Creek Vineyard are one of the only wineries that produce a dry Chenin Blanc in California. It had a crisp apple flavor, very clean, very easy on the palate. The grapes for this wine are sourced up in Clarksburg. $12.00.
2008 Sauvignon Blanc---This is one that I got to sample at the winery as well as here and I truly enjoyed every drop of it. It's classic California Sauvignon Blanc with some wonderful citrus and grassy notes. Crisp and refreshing! $16.00.
2005 Dry Creek Merlot--Juicy and rich with ripe berries, cassis, vanilla and chocolate. It drank like a Cabernet Sauvignon at a fraction of the price. $19.00.
2005 Mariner---This is a classic Bordeaux-blend, beautifully layered, solid structure, nice firm tannins. You could lay this down for awhile but why wait!
2004 Late Harvest Zinfandel--Before sampling this, I'd never tried a late harvest Zinfandel before. It was really smooth and richly sweet with ripe blackberries. Perfect little wine to go with my chocolate dessert. $30.00.
The winery produces an array of other wines including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and several Zinfandels--some of which are single vineyard. Their wines are distributed nationwide as well as being available in their winery tasting room and on their website at www.drycreekvineyard.com. Don's wife and the company vice-president, Kim Stare Wallace, has a blog called "Wilma's Wine World." Please check out her blog at the link on my blog list to the right.
I purchased a bottle of the Chenin Blanc, autographed by Don. All in all, I feel I can make a great solid choice with their wines and am very pleased. I look forward to visiting again and came away with an invitation to tour their property when I re-visit. I want to thank Don and Kim for their great hospitality and hope to see you again next year!