An unexpected
approach can lead
to an impressive result.

We can all thank owner David Stare of Dry Creek for bringing the now-famous grassy, grapefruit style of Sauvignon Blanc to our shores in the early 1970s.

– Leslie Sbrocco, The New York Times

The story of Dry Creek Vineyard and the Stare Wallace family isn’t one of fairy tales. There is no corporate mogul writing checks every month, or a day job in a lucrative industry to fund the winery. Our story is this: one dedicated family working day and night for five decades to turn what many considered an idealistic pipedream, into a reality that revolutionized the California wine industry. 

Founder David S. Stare always had a dream to live overseas, so after he completed his degree in Civil Engineering at MIT and his MBA at Northwestern, he moved to Germany. While living there, he visited many of the wineries and started to develop an interest in wine. He returned to Boston in the spring of 1969 firmly bitten by the wine bug and enrolled in a wine appreciation class. In June of 1970, Dave and his family spent two weeks in France, where he fell in love with French wines, specifically the wines of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. Shortly after returning from the trip, he read an article in the Wall Street Journal about what a great future California had for making world-class wines. After a trip to California, he packed up his wife and kids in a mint green station wagon to carve out his path in the wine industry.

As Dry Creek’s lone winery, Dry Creek Vineyard became the trendsetter.

– Jim Laube, Wine Spectator

Upon his arrival, Dave began taking winemaking classes at UC Davis as a graduate student. On the weekends, he spent time looking at vineyard land from Monterey to Mendocino. It was during one of those weekend trips that fate drew Dave to Dry Creek Valley area of Sonoma County. When he saw a rundown 55-acre prune orchard across the street from the Dry Creek General Store, Dave realized that he had found his dream location.

He purchased the orchard and began planting the region’s first vines since Prohibition. Captivated by his memories of the wines of the Loire Valley, Dave was determined to plant Sauvignon Blanc. However, several famed vineyard specialists advised him against planting the varietal, which they deemed “inappropriate” for the region. Always looking to push the envelope, Dave planted the varietal anyway and the rest is history. This bold and pioneering step triggered a viticultural reawakening in northern Sonoma County.

Dave’s daughter, Kim Stare Wallace, was literally raised among the vines in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. Throughout her childhood she watched as her father established the first new winery to be built in the region following Prohibition and champion Dry Creek Valley as a world-class winegrowing appellation. As a teen, Kim worked in the office, cellar and on the bottling line, as well as accompanying her parents on countless sales trips, business dinners and wine tastings. From the very beginning, she grew up with a passion and understanding of the wine industry.

Despite her upbringing, Kim always swore that she would never work for the winery and began a career in the fashion industry after college. Ultimately, the pull of the family business was too great and her father convinced her to come back to the winery as Director of Marketing in 1987. Kim’s husband, Don Wallace, joined the winery managing ranch operations in 1990. In the mid-nineties, Kim and Don took on increased responsibilities, becoming involved in all decisions affecting the quality of the Dry Creek Vineyard experience and winery operations.

A force driven in the 1970s and ‘80s by founder Dave Stare, Dry Creek Vineyard has been reinvigorated by his daughter Kim Stare Wallace, who brought a renewed focus in both the vineyards and winery.

– Wine & Spirits, Top 100 Winery of 2015

In the years leading up to Dave’s retirement in 2006, Kim and Don began to put into place their vision for the future of the winery. They saw the writing on the wall as other mid-size, family-owned wineries were being gobbled up by massive corporations. Instead of selling out or radically growing production by sourcing fruit from lesser appellations, they went back to the basics. Their shift in philosophy led to dramatically reducing production while increasing quality and sharpening the focus on appellation-driven, terroir-focused wines that rival the best in California. 

Each and every varietal and bottling was scrutinized. Vineyards from outside of the appellation were sold off, and additional Dry Creek Valley properties were purchased to increase the estate holding to 185 acres of 100% certified sustainably-farmed vineyards. Improvements around the winery were made as well, upgrading the crush pad, bottling line, filtration equipment, barrels, etc. And of course, Kim and Don sought out a person who shared their vision, so they hired renowned and critically acclaimed winemaker Tim Bell in 2011. Bit by bit, the pieces fell into place, all without an oil well or trust fund to rely upon.

Today Dry Creek Vineyard is one of the last truly private, family-owned, iconic wineries consistently producing 90+ point wines. The second generation is firmly committed to a “no compromises” philosophy producing world class, appellation-focused, varietal-defining wines. They have shifted their winemaking practices and vineyard management to maximize flavors and reflect their home region. To sum it all up, in a world where things are getting bigger and faster, this legacy wine family is taking a smaller and slower approach. With a loyal following of wine club members and customers, the future of Dry Creek Vineyard has never been brighter!

Family Owned and Sustainably Farmed Since 1972