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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.

 

Sep 01,

2014

DCV Estate Block 10 Chardonnay

Chardonnay has had a circuitous route here at Dry Creek Vineyard. In the early days, winery founder David Stare produced just a small amount from the famed Robert Young vineyard. Then, as the winery grew, so did production. By the late 1990s, we were producing over 30,000 cases of Sonoma County Chardonnay. As the second generation took over the reins of the business, one wine we knew needed attention was Chardonnay. In 2003, production was cut to 7,500 cases with all of the grapes coming from the Russian River Valley. Then in 2008, we produced a single vineyard version called Foggy Oaks, dropping the production yet again to 3,500 cases.

With the release of the DCV Estate Block 10, we are now producing just 1,250 cases of Chardonnay from 30 vine rows at the far northeast corner of our estate Chardonnay vineyard. The 2012 DCV Estate Block 10 Chardonnay continues our aim of producing small lot wines, focused on vineyard and terroir and most importantly, of the highest quality possible. It has taken us almost 15 years to isolate this section of the vineyard which, year in and year out, represents our best Chardonnay. The well draining soils and lower fertility zones provide us fruit that is bright in acid with a well rounded flavor profile.

It’s an exciting time at Dry Creek Vineyard. We hope you enjoy this wine and recognize the hard work and effort that has gone into realizing this dream come true.