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Aug 24,

2012

Dry Creek Vineyard Celebrates 40 Years of Winemaking with Wine Industry Icons

New Video Features Broad Range of Personalities Sharing Their Perspective on the Winery

On this day 40 years ago, California wine pioneer David S. Stare received the necessary permits to build the first new winery in the Dry Creek Valley appellation of Sonoma County, following Prohibition.

Located at the corner of Lambert Bridge Road and Dry Creek Road in the heart of the region, Dave’s vision to build a Loire Valley inspired chateau reawakened this sleepy area of Sonoma County to the possibility of producing fine wines. “Looking back, it’s kind of ironic that Dad’s neighbors didn’t want him building a winery on West Dry Creek Road, as originally planned”, comments second generation President, Kim Stare Wallace. “Having our winery in the heart of our region and easily accessible to visitors makes us the gateway winery to the Dry Creek Valley.  It was the best thing that ever happened to us.”

Dry Creek Vineyard has proudly carried on as the region’s namesake winery,  waving  the  flag  for  the  incredible  quality  of  grapes  and  wines produced in the Dry Creek Valley. “We are so proud of our heritage and history,” comments Stare Wallace. “We were the first winery to plant Sauvignon Blanc in the Dry Creek Valley, we were responsible for our region’s AVA status in 1983, we were the first winery to use the term Meritage on a wine label, and that’s just for starters. I view our winery as one of the true pioneers in California.”

To help celebrate the milestone occasion, the winery has created a video featuring several wine industry icons. Tim Gaiser, a Master Sommelier from San Francisco, says that Dry Creek Vineyard was one of the original wines he worked with during the early 1980s. “The Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc was one of the first California Sauvignon Blancs I’d ever tasted and I thought it was one of the best wine values on the list. In my view, Dry Creek Vineyard has represented the gold standard for quality and value in California wine since their founding.”

Long time grape grower and winemaker, Joe Rochioli, remembers selling Sauvignon Blanc grapes to David in those early days. “He was definitely not from around here,” recalls Rochioli with a wry smile. “But, I have to hand it to him. He was right out there, shoveling grapes and making his wine. That city slicker definitely knew how to work hard!”

Now enjoying retirement, the elder Stare says the future of the winery has never been brighter. “With Kim’s leadership, winemaker Tim Bell’s skills and the rest of our talented staff, we’re poised for great things. I see another forty years of family winemaking ahead of us!”

 

Aug 01,

2012

Dry Creek Vineyard Dusts Off Moldy Oldies in Celebration of 40 Years of Winemaking

Month-Long Tasting Features Rare, Collectible Wines for Sale at the Winery

Forty years ago this month, winery founder David Stare was issued the use permit to build Dry Creek Vineyard at the corner of Dry Creek Road and Lambert Bridge Road. In celebration of this monumental occasion, the winery family has dug deep into their private cellar to re-release several cherished wines going back three decades.

“This is a special occasion for our entire family,” remarks winery President, Kim Stare Wallace. “These wines hold significant meaning to us – such as our 1991 Estate Bullock House Merlot that won the prestigious Grand Prix d’Honneur award in Bordeaux, France or our 1994 25th Anniversary Vintner’s Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. Each wine has a wonderful story behind it.”

Tastings will be held each weekend at the winery as a new flight of vintage wines is  revealed  for  customers  to  taste  and  purchase  in  very  limited quantities. The tasting is priced at $10 per person, and is refundable with purchase. In addition, the winery has 1, 2 and 3 bottle wooden gift boxes available for sale to accompany these incredible wines.

“We are one of the few wineries in the Dry Creek Valley able to offer such a comprehensive, retrospective tasting of vintage wines,” comments Stare Wallace. “This should be a real treat for our customers.”

Below is the August re-release schedule. Once a wine is sold out, it will be removed from the menu and will no longer be offered for tasting.  For more information, call 707-433-1000 x103.

 

Mar 20,

2012

Meet Our New Winemaker

Tim Bell

Changing winemakers is never easy.  After all, our business is predicated first and foremost on producing outstanding wines that satisfy our customers each and every vintage.  So when Bill Knuttel, our winemaker since 2003, decided to pursue his consulting business, the search was on.  And what an exhaustive search it was!  In fact, a good chunk of 2011 was spent looking for the next great Dry Creek Vineyard winemaker.   We spent hundreds of hours in interviews, tastings, discussions, more interviews, fact checking, pondering…you get the idea.  We did our homework.  And finally, Tim Bell rose to the top of the list.

Tim joined us just before harvest last year and officially took the reins from Bill in January 2012.   Tim has more than 20 years of winemaking experience at such esteemed California wineries as Kunde Family Estate and Freemark Abbey in Napa Valley.  Experience, however, was just one of many factors as to why Tim was chosen for the job.  We could wax poetic for quite awhile about what a great guy Tim is and how fond we are of him – but we thought it would be much better to hear from him in his own words.  Earlier this year, after the official baton was passed, we sat down with Tim for some one-on-one time to find out what makes him tick.

Q.   So Tim, why winemaking?   Where does the passion come from?

Well, this might sound just a tad cheesy, but the honest truth is that I’m sort of a romantic at heart.  I find a lot of beauty in things.  I love music.  I have a passion for the outdoors.  I feel deep connections to things of simplicity.  I think that really speaks to how I feel about wine.  There’s so much beauty and romance surrounding wine.  It’s the vineyards, the wide open country, the beauty of the surrounding hills and valleys.   I’m passionate about taking grapes from these places and being respectful to them and creating a wine that has meaning and care put into it.

Q.   Wow, Tim.  That’s pretty great.  We love passionate people.  Can you tell us more about your early years – where did you grow up?  How did you get your start in the wine business?

I was born in Iowa, the youngest son in a family of farmers and laborers.  I think a good bit of my creative side came from my upbringing.  My parents worked hard all day and found some joy in music at night and in church.  Music is a huge part of our family gatherings today – lots of singing and people playing different instruments.  My family is very down to earth – salt of the earth kind of people.

As I grew up, I hung out with a pretty eclectic mix of friends.  I found myself, though, more often than not spending time with my intellectual buddies – sort of science geek type personalities.  I suppose that’s where I got a lot of my stimulation for chemistry and lab work which are important parts of being a winemaker.

My start in the wine industry was a bit unusual by winemaking standards.  From the age of 18 to about 28 I was in the retail side of the business as a store manager and wine buyer at a large retailer in Southern California.  I think this was where I realized that wine has a great history and romance (as well as science) behind it.  Also, this is where I had my wine “moment.”   I was at this trade tasting and tasted a super Tuscan called Viticcio Prunaio.  I was blown away.  It was a symphony of flavors and layers.  It was such a moment for me; it was profound. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a winemaker.  I attended the University of California at Davis from 1990 to 1994 and did internships at Franciscan Winery and Mt. Veeder Vineyards, as well as Gloria Ferrer Wine Caves.

My first full time job was at a winery called Arroyo Seco which was a custom crush facility in San Martin near Gilroy, CA.  I refer to this period in my career as my boot camp training for winemaking.  During harvest, the facility operated 20 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I learned a lot in a very short period of time.  Also, I was never so tired in my whole life!

Q.   How would you characterize your winemaking style?

I’m looking for boldness and intensity in the aromas and flavors, but a wine that never loses its balance.  I’m not making a cocktail; I’m making wine that goes with food.  That syncs up with Dry Creek Vineyard’s philosophy.  Ripeness and full body are important, but the wine should have good acidity and tannin structure.

Q.   We’re sure you’ve thought about this.  Why Dry Creek Vineyard?

Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and the Bordeaux varieties are wines I love to make and wines that Dry Creek Vineyard has championed for 40 years.  It’s so satisfying to work for a family and be involved from grape to glass.  I feel like I am really in line with the family’s vision for the winery going forward.  It’s not often that you get to work for people who are willing to give you all the tools necessary to make great wines.  Plus, Kim, Don and Dave are really passionate about making great wine – as am I.  This is a great situation for me.

Q.   What is your long term outlook?  Do you see any significant changes on the horizon?

First of all, I’m not here to reinvent the wheel.  I want to stay within the house style of wines.  These wines have made Dry Creek Vineyard successful for 40 years so there’s no reason to try and fix something that is not broken.  That being said, I will always strive to produce the best possible wine and make suggestions for improvement.  There are some areas that I think I can be of assistance.  For example, some more attention to detail in the vineyard with different pruning techniques or canopy management, particularly in the Endeavour vineyard, are just a few thoughts that come to mind.  Really though, it just comes down to having a dedicated focus to Dry Creek Vineyard. It’s all about planning, precision and execution.

Q.   What is your “desert island” wine?

Zinfandel is for sure my favorite grape variety, but Cabernet is a very close second.  I love Zinfandel because it is so versatile.  Hopefully, I don’t get stranded on a desert island but if I were, Zin is definitely the wine I’d want to have in lots of supply!

 

Jan 24,

2012

18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®

Our 12th Consecutive Year as Official Wine of the SAG Awards

For the past 12 years, Dry Creek Vineyard has proudly partnered with the Screen Actors Guild Awards, an exclusive A-list Hollywood event that brings together the finest actors in film and television.  During the show, our wines are served at each dinner table along with several tasting bars situated around the Shrine Auditorium.

This year, the featured wine is our finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Endeavour, crafted from our estate vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley.  The 2006 Endeavour will be presented in a beautiful 1.5L magnum for each table during the awards show.  In addition, 2010 Fumé Blanc will be served as the complimentary white wine.  We will also continue our tradition of hosting complimentary tasting bars during the show where guests will be able to sample our 2007 Mariner and 2009 Foggy Oaks Chardonnay, in addition to Fumé Blanc and Endeavour.

The live simulcast of the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards can be viewed on TNT and TBS on Sunday, January, 29, 2012 at 8 pm ET/PT, 7 pm CT, 6 pm MT from the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles. (Check local listings if watching via satellite or in HD).

 

Nov 24,

2011

Behind the Scenes at Endeavour Vineyard

The story of our estate Endeavour vineyard goes back to the early 90s when Don Wallace, then a young and energetic vineyard manager, was fascinated with how technology and farming were being used to plant new vineyards. Commenting on those early times, Don says there was not a lot of science behind vineyard development. “Back in the early 70s when we first got our start, vineyard development was really done sort of willy-nilly – there wasn’t much rhyme or reason as to why and where grapes were planted. As a young guy coming up in the business, I thought there could be a better way of doing things.”

As the winery continued to grow, a need for more Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sent Don on a chase for a new vineyard site. For almost five years, he scoured the Dry Creek Valley for the ideal location. Using an airplane and topographic maps, Don zeroed in on the Lytton Springs area as a possible locale for a new vineyard. “I saw this area from the air and it just looked perfect. Then, when I actually walked the ground, I knew this was it. The combination of excellent soil conditions, drainage and sun exposure were ideal.” There were other desirable characteristics as well. In looking to create a sustainable vineyard ecosystem, it was obvious that the amphitheater-style setting would allow for rain water sheet flow – essentially creating a natural pond and giving the vineyard its own water source.

The planting of Endeavour vineyard was yet another technology driven effort. Working with Vineyard Manager Duff Bevill, Don and Duff implemented a concept called intermittent vine planting. Using topographic maps and soil quality analysis, they were able to determine which parts of the vineyard had lower soil fertility versus other areas that had higher soil fertility. In planting the vines, areas that were higher in fertility had more spacing and those lower in fertility were planted closer together. The result is a vineyard that maintains a closed loop system – completely sustainable and able to maintain and moderate yields on its own. In other words, at Endeavour vineyard we do very little leaf thinning and drop almost no fruit during the growing season. The vineyard is able to moderate itself throughout the cycle of the season.

Walking through Endeavour vineyard is a real treat. The vineyard is alive with all manner of insects, birds and water fowl. With 30 acres of vines planted, more than half of Endeavour is Cabernet Sauvignon with Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot rounding out the acreage. The vineyard is pristine with rolling hillsides that face mostly west in an effort to soak up as much afternoon sun as possible. As Don walks and talks more about his “baby” there is a sense of pride in his voice. “All of the collective vineyard experience and knowledge that I have accumulated went into this vineyard. It’s so rewarding to see our efforts pay off.”