Combining a Love For Wine With a Passion For Sailing

Sailing is a part of our DNA at Dry Creek Vineyard. We have been avid sailors for over 50 years, literally growing up around the waters of the East Coast and San Francisco Bay. Our passion for wine and sailing is forever connected. Over the past three decades, we have sponsored numerous regattas, teams and yacht clubs. We continue to keep the sport of sailing front and center on our label designs and branding across our portfolio of wines.

“Any time I see a Dry Creek label on a restaurant’s wine list,  I choose it, both because I know it will be a great wine, and because of Dry Creek’s investment and commitment to our sport.  Look for the bottles with the beautiful sailing artwork on the label and you won’t go wrong. ”

- Peter isler, two-time America's Cup winner

Sailing was already part of founder Dave Stare’s DNA long before he started Dry Creek Vineyard in 1972. Having grown up in Massachusetts, Dave learned to sail at a young age. In the mid-1970s, Dave bought his first sailboat which he sailed on San Francisco Bay. While sailboats did not make it on the labels of our first few vintages, sailing was never far from the heart of the winery.

As the winery grew, so did Dave’s interest in supporting sailing and all things nautical. In 1977, a young, sandy-haired student showed up at Dave’s door looking for a sponsor to help him get the fledging sailing program at Sonoma State University off the ground. As it turns out, that young man was none other than Peter Holmberg, who became a 2-time Olympian and America’s Cup skipper.

Years later, after daughter Kim and son-in-law Don joined the family business, the family’s interest in sailing began to take shape on the labels. One of the legendary stories involves the family doing what they loved to do – sail on San Francisco Bay. Anchored off of Angel Island, a brainstorming session started to gain momentum. How could the existing boring wine labels, with a traditional chateau-style illustration, be tweaked to add more personality to the wines? 

Kim, a recent college graduate with a penchant for design, immediately got the wild idea – “Hey, we love sailing, we love wine – why not put a sailboat on our wine labels?” It was an “ah ha” moment if there’s ever been one. She found local artist Michael Surles, commissioned an original piece of art, and with the 1982 David S. Stare Reserve Merlot/Cabernet blend, sailboats and Dry Creek Vineyard were finally linked together.

We are proud of the accomplishments of the sailing programs we have supported over the years, from the Sea Cadet program for the Tall Ship Californian, to Brad Van Liew’s Around Alone campaign, a 37,000-mile solo circumnavigation race.

Our support went global in 1999 with the Bitter End Yacht Club Pro-Am Regatta in the British Virgin Islands and we continued to support the regatta for four consecutive years. In 2000 we formed a nine-year sponsorship with US SAILING and became an official partner of the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year in both 2002 and 2004. Closer to home, we formed a partnership with the San Francisco Yacht Club and St. Francis Yacht Club for their regattas.

Our affiliation with the America’s Cup has flourished for over 20 years, starting our launch of the America’s Cup Reserve series at the 30th America’s Club in Auckland, New Zealand in 2000. Closer to home, we were proud to be the Official Wine Supplier of Artemis Racing, a challenger for the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013. And of course, we were honored to be selected as the Official Wine of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in New York and Chicago in 2016.

Today, our list of partnerships, involvement and accolades in the sailing world is quite long. With the sailboat labels resonating with consumers across the country, our family winery has become fondly known in many circles as the “official wine for sailors.” For us, wine and sailing is the perfect pairing!

Our Sailing History

The Art of Sailing

Since 1982, sailboat imagery has graced our labels, capturing the spirit of the high seas and our passion for the sport. We believe that the art of winemaking and the skill of sailing have a lot in common. Like winemaking, sailing is fun, adventuresome and daring. Like sailing, the art of winemaking demands skill, discipline and plenty of help from Mother Nature.

Dating back to the first sailboat on the 1982 David S. Stare Reserve Red, we made an intentional effort to choose a class of boat that would fit the nature of the winery. We decided early on that the J Class yachts would be our inspiration – specifically those boats from 1929 to 1937. Considered the golden years of yachting, the J’s of the 30s were in a class by themselves. They were extremely dangerous to sail and the complex rigging and lack of a motor made them sailable only for the most experienced skippers.

From the very beginning, we have worked with local artist Michael Surles to create these original pieces of art that have come to express each of our wines. His innate ability to capture the spirit of these boats is uncanny from their shape and color, all the way down to the intricate rigging on the sails.