I’m no wine snob. In fact, I’m still learning about wine. And so far, my education has been limited. But, I know what I like.
I have had the good fortune to spend a few weeks in the Cahors region in France, birthplace of Malbec. (It’s true. Argentina’s Malbec grapes originally came from Cahors.)
I have sampled the wines of Illinois – don’t laugh. They aren’t bad if you like sweet wines. Our soil is just too good in most areas to stress the grape vines.
I have done a few winery tours in California – near Ojai, Santa Barbara, Russian River, and my current favorite… Dry Creek.
Why Dry Creek? Because that’s where my cousin took me. She lives in San Francisco and Healdsburg is only a short drive away. I have not yet been to Napa or Sonoma (true Sonoma; Dry Creek is West Sonoma), but I am perfectly content in Dry Creek. We visited several vineyards, but I fell hard for two – Dry Creek and Passalacqua. In the future I hope to highlight a few more.
Dry Creek Vineyard
I prefer reds over whites. That said, I love a good Chenin Blanc. Dry Creek makes an excellent Dry Chenin Blanc. And a pretty darn fresh Fume Blanc. And their reds aren’t too shabby, either. (I especially liked the Old Vine Zinfandel.)
I am not a wine expert. so I won’t even try to describe the different flavors in the wines. The Dry Creek Vineyard web site can tell you more about the wines than I can.
If you are in the Dry Creek area, you have to stop by DCV. Gorgeous tasting room and gardens. And the staff is friendly, knowledgeable, patient, informative – in no way snobby. The whole vineyard has an air of casual class.
Living in Illinois my wine options are usually limited to whatever Friar Tuck’s or Binny’s has in stock. But, DCV sometimes runs specials of $1 shipping on cases. (Sidenote: on a recent trip to Friar Tuck’s I was shocked and pleased to find that they now carry Dry Creek’s Chenin Blanc at an incredibly reasonable price of around $9/bottle.)
With excellent whites like Chenin Blanc and Fume Blanc at less than $20/bottle on site, Dry Creek definitely warrants an hour, or two, or three of your time. And if you can’t visit in person, check with your local wine store. They just might have it
And if you happen to meet John in the tasting room – enjoy!
For you red lovers out there, try Passalacqua. It’s right across the road from Dry Creek (very convenient). And you have to meet Tony in the tasting room. You’ll feel like you’ve known him all your life.
Passalacqua is hard to find in stores. In fact, most of their wines are reserved for wine club members, although they do offer Passalacqua wines at some area restaurants near Healdsburg.
I had never joined a wine club before my visit to Passalacqua. I’m not sure if it was Tony or the red wine, but I left there a member anxiously looking forward to my first of 4 shipments through the year. As I see it, there is only one problem with a wine club. The wines feel “special”, so you save them for a “special” occasion, and not just any “special” occasion.
Passalacqua reds have a definite Italian or French feel. Dry. Full-bodied. Gorgeous.
They also produce several excellent whites, including a tropical Sauvignon Blanc. But, I am hooked on the reds.
Other Wineries Worth Visiting in the Dry Creek Area
- Everett Ridge Winery – Laid back, very casual, beautiful views from the tasting deck, and Cheetos with their tasting flights. Yes, Cheetos. Now how can you be intimidated by a winery that serves Cheetos? Memorable – the Estate Syrah.
- Amista Vineyard – Amista is small, family-owned. Their tasting room, housed in a large barn boasts some funky, cool artwork. I especially enjoyed a sparkling red, not currently listed on the web site, and the Rosé of Syrah.