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Dec 16,

2014

Farewell 2014, Hello 2015!

We always like to spend some time in reflection on the year that was. In the case of 2014, it has certainly been eventful from start to finish.

In January, we hit the ground running with Winter WINEland, an event sponsored by the Russian River Wine Road. We’re participating again in 2015 – 23rd Annual Winter WINEland. It’s a wonderful wintertime event and helps to combat some of those post-holiday blues. In the early spring, we looked forward to one of the wine industry’s premier events, Passport to Dry Creek Valley, held the last weekend of April. Our sailing themed hideaway provided the perfect backdrop as Passport holders enjoyed our wines paired with delectable nibbles, while grooving to the memorable sounds of the Seadogs. In early May, we had a ribbon cutting ceremony with the entire DCV family, opening our new vineyard walk, sustainable garden and bocce court. For those of you who have not yet experienced this wonderful new space in front of the winery, we’d like to invite you to visit us. Take an educational tour or reserve the bocce court for yourself and up to 12 guests for an afternoon of wine and fun!

The summer season was full of activity. Our big public event in June was our signature event of the year. The centerpiece was an incredible Beatles band, the Sun Kings. More than 500 people packed our picnic area to witness a nostalgic rendition of the second side of Abbey Road. Every year, this event is a sellout and this year was no exception. Be sure to mark your calendars now – June 20, 2015!

Heading into harvest, we were all a bit worried about what was happening in the vineyard. The entire winter season was very dry – we had record low rainfall. However, the quality appears very high and it seems we have dodged the weather bullet. For now, we are praying for a rainy winter to help ease the drought concerns heading into 2015.

September brought yet another memorable sail on the San Francisco Bay with our wine club members. The day was filled with wonderful wine, food and friends. We also introduced two exciting new wines to our lineup of Zinfandels – Wallace Ranch and Vogensen Ranch. These delicious new wines express the distinct terroir from our estate (Wallace Ranch), as well as vineyards that rise more than 800 feet off the valley floor at Vogensen Ranch. Both wines are exclusive for our wine club members. Last but not least, we received some incredible and long awaited news – Dry Creek Vineyard is now a California Certified Sustainable winery. For more than 25 years, sustainability has been a priority at the winery and we are thrilled to have the official recognition from the state of California.

October kicked off with a bang when we learned about some terrific new press. The Wine Spectator gave our 2012 Heritage Vines Zinfandel a 90 point score – the second time in the past two vintages. At $20 a bottle, we think our Heritage Vines Zinfandel is one of the best values going in California!

Looking ahead to 2015, the sky’s the limit. Our amazing hospitality team continues to deliver world class service. As the #1 rated winery on Trip Advisor in Healdsburg, we stand ready to take incredible care of our guests. We offer private tastings and tours, blending seminars and other customized experiences for our guests to enjoy. For a complete list, please visit our website.

From our family to yours, we wish you a joyous holiday season and we hope to see you in the New Year!

 

Nov 07,

2014

An Update from the Cellar

With harvest now over but with plenty left to do, we caught up with Winemaker, Tim Bell in the cellar. Tim gave us his thoughts on the 2014 harvest. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation.

“Overall, I am very pleased with the quality of 2014 wines so far. The weather cooperated nicely for the most part. Harvest kicked off on August 12, making this one of the earliest starts in quite some time. I would say we are 7-10 days ahead of where we usually are, and reached a steady flow of fruit into the winery much earlier than normal. In fact, we expected to start harvest even earlier, but the fact that ripening in Sauvignon Blanc proceeded more slowly than expected in this early season was a clue that crop size was going to be larger than normal. Pre-harvest expectations had been that the drought might lower yields. We did not see this come true in Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc or the Bordeaux red varieties. Only Zinfandel crop size was lower than normal this year. Two interesting observations I made were that flavors in Sauvignon Blanc seemed to be peaking earlier than normal this year, relative to sugar ripening. The other interesting observation was that Cabernet Sauvignon wines took longer in the fermenters to develop the desired depth of body and color this year. I was concerned early on about the quality of Cab, but it turned out that I just needed to be more patient, and to continue working the cap longer into fermentations this year to achieve good color and structure. Harvest came to a close on October 11. This was 7-8 days earlier than the previous two harvests. It was a fast and furious pace this year, and the crew worked hard to keep up. I’m proud of what we did this year!”

Thanks Tim!

 

Nov 07,

2014

2014 Harvest Interns

We’ve been fortunate. Very fortunate. Our 2014 harvest interns have been incredible. Hailing from South Africa, this tribe of merry souls has worked painfully long hours, helping us with innumerable pump overs, tank shoveling and basically any other kind of grunt labor. We thought it would be fun to introduce them.

Phillip is in his final year of the Agribusiness program at Elsenburg Agricultural Institute in South Africa. Having worked several harvests, including in Australia and South Africa, Phillip has brought his can-do attitude to Dry Creek Vineyard. Always positive and happy, he is quick with a smile and bright wit. Phillip is a great guy to be around. Tian is another wonderful part of the team. Having completed his degree in Cellar Technology and Viticulture in 2013, Tian’s ultimate dream is to travel the world learning winemaking skills and visiting other cultures. One day, he’d like to be a winemaker at home in South Africa. And last but not least is Helienne. Helienne also hails from South Africa and is our lone woman intern for this harvest. She has certainly proven herself, putting in long days and standing toe-to-toe with the guys in the cellar dragging hoses and shoveling tanks. A graduate of Elsenburg Institute, Helienne also has dreams of being a winemaker some day.

We’d like to thank Phillip, Tian and Helienne for their hard work and dedication. We will miss them!

 

Nov 07,

2014

Our Vineyards and the Drought

We are in a historic and prolonged period of drought in California. Without a doubt, this is a major topic of conversation within wine industry circles and also in communities across the state.  In the tasting room, the question is often raised by our guests – “How are you guys dealing with the drought?” “How are the vines?” Everyone wants to know.  The short answer is – the vines are very stressed.  This is year number three of the drought.  There are a lot of people who don’t know that.  Unfortunately, in 2012 and into early 2013, no one really talked about drought conditions, even though that was exactly the scenario that existed.  Dry Creek Vineyard has about 185 acres under vine in both the Dry Creek and Russian River Valley.  For the most part, we have been very fortunate in terms of our ability to access water.  Bevill Vineyard Management, who farms our vineyards, has done an excellent job practicing deficit irrigation.  This process involves monitoring irrigation efforts in all of our vineyards and only watering when probes in the soil or vine water stress measurements indicate that water is needed.  This is not to say that the drought hasn’t affected us.  The irrigation pond at our estate DCV9 Endeavour vineyard went completely dry late this summer which was certainly cause for concern.  We were fortunate to get through this harvest season and receive fruit with excellent flavors, albeit with lower than normal sugars – something we can certainly attribute to the dry conditions.  At the end of the day, we need to have a very wet winter.  Even if that happens we will be nowhere near close to out of the woods in terms of the drought.

 

Oct 06,

2014

Sustainable Farming

Growing in Harmony with Nature - by Don Wallace, Partner

These days, sustainability is a common buzzword in the Dry Creek Valley and beyond. For growers and consumers alike, it’s a good thing that living a sustainable life is a part of our daily lexicon. By adopting more environmentally responsible farming and business practices, we up the odds of survival for our irreplaceable Planet Earth.

Now that Dry Creek Vineyard has officially been recognized as a Certified California Sustainable Winery, it’s important that we educate both consumers and the trade on what it means to be sustainable. At its core, the sustainability movement rests on the principle that we must find new ways to satisfy our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. To put it another way, sustainability is not the destination, sustainability is the journey. Dry Creek Vineyard offers a microcosmic example of this theory. Because we are vitally concerned that our children, Taylor and Spencer, have the choice of following in our footsteps here, we must focus on the long term health of our winery and vineyards and help raise community awareness about the concept of sustainability.

An all encompassing ideal, having a sustainable business is reflected in all aspects of our winery including:
• Cover crops
• Raptor perches
• Deficit irrigation
• Hi-tech pest control
• Riparian habitat management
• Bat houses
• Barn owl habitat
• Solar power
• Insectary garden and educational vineyard walk
• Fish habitat restoration project

As a result of our commitment to environmental issues, we are deeply involved in determining future sustainable farming policies. Along with other wine industry leaders, we are working to develop clear and realistic guidelines to help all growers embrace the principles of sustainable agriculture. All of us at Dry Creek Vineyard believe it’s important to be good stewards of the land. Our upfront commitment to sustainable farming may be costly and time consuming. But in the long term, it is what’s good for the land and all humankind.