In 1972, when David S. Stare opened the doors to Dry Creek Vineyard, it was the first new winery to be built in the Valley since Prohibition. Dry Creek created the first Sonoma Fume Blanc, originated the Dry Creek Valley AVA, and was an early advocate for Bordeaux-style blending.
Today, Dry Creek Vineyard is committed to vineyard diversity, vinifying individual lots of fruit separately, and then blending carefully for each final cuvee. Dry Creek Vineyard is also a leader in the stewardship of pre-Prohibition Zinfandel vines and vineyards, and has isolated a clone, called the "Heritage Clone," which is bottled separately from their "Old Vines" Zinfandel (containing wine only from vines no younger than 50 years old), and which has made very promising wines.
Learn More About Petite Sirah
Petite Sirah (peh-TEET seer-AH)
Not So Small There is nothing petite about this grape. Petite Sirah, the result of a crossing between Syrah and Peloursin, is also known as Durif. Being the father, Syrah imparted some of its flavors and characteristics to its offspring, but the two grapes are decisively different. Petite Sirah is mostly found in California, where it gained popularity as a blending partner, but has come into its own as a single varietal wine.
Notable Facts A common descriptor for Petite Sirah is inky. And so it is - the dark skinned grape creates wines that are tannic, sturdy, jammy and of course, stain-your-teeth purple. As a blender, the grape helps to add structure and backbone to wines made in not-so-perfect vintages. As a sole variety, the wine typically shows off a peppery spice, with concentrated fruit flavors reminiscent of plums and prunes with notes of cherries and blackberries. The variety continues to gain respect in California for single varietal production and making some delicious and intense wines.
Summing it up Successful Sites: California, South Africa
Common Descriptors: Inky, peppery, prunes, black fruit, leather
Learn More About Sonoma County, California
Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about a half the amount of wine as her northeasterly neighbor. But Sonoma, with her size, is able to vouch for more diversity within her borders, including sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid back and down home country style. But in wines, they are keeping up with the Joneses, or Napa-ites if you will. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.