One visit to Dry Creek Valley will have you walking away a zinfandel fanatic. Thanks to the diverse terroir, zinfandel in the valley comes with a wide variety of expressions and flavors, so you’re sure to find one to fit your palate. Not to mention the high concentration of old vine zinfandel with vines well over a century old. Today, nearly 2,400 acres of zinfandel are farmed in Dry Creek Valley.
Many of the original families continue to farm the vineyards, with successive generations producing world-class wines based on the traditions of their fathers and grandfathers. Visitors can taste the fruits of this labor at more than 60 wineries across the valley, each producing a unique style of zinfandel that reflects a sense of place and the vintners’ own style. This itinerary highlights just a few of our favorite stops for all things zin.
We’re Zin Deep
1 – Fritz Underground Winery
Our first stop on our itinerary, brings you to the northern tip of Dry Creek Valley in Cloverdale to Fritz Underground Winery. The revolutionary three tier, subterranean winery design provides a unique environment where wine production is gently aided by gravity from crush to barrel.
At Fritz, they turn their 10-acres of estate zinfandel into some incredible offerings. Their 2014 Zinfandel bursts with red fruit, vanilla, and spice in contrast with their more complex, full-bodied Reserve Zinfandel that has been aged in 40% new French oak for 10 months, with aromas of blackberry jam, figs, anise and baking spices wrapped in firm elegant tannins with balanced acidity.
If you have a sweet tooth, Fritz’s Late Harvest Zinfandel is not to miss. In this garnet hued wine, you’ll find brilliant aromas of blackberries, red currants, and spices abound with subtle undertones of cocoa.
2 – Cast Wines
Cast Wines grows and produces handmade wines in limited quantities using old-world techniques highlighting the best of Sonoma County. Their tasting room provides a warm, friendly, romantic, low pressure, relaxing venue for our guests to enjoy all wines and fall in love with the sweeping view of Dry Creek Valley.
At Cast they make two zinfandels in different styles. Their Grey Palm Vineyard Zinfandel is an easy drinking, bright, reach-for-it-now wine. Their second is their Old Vine Zinfandel from Watson Vineyard which is the epitome of Dry Creek Zinfandel with its concentrated flavors and well-balanced palate.
3 – David Coffaro Vineyard & Winery
At David Coffaro you’ll find a behind-the-scenes glimpse and a tasting-tour of their 200 barrel warehouse of distinctive red wines, masterfully blended for complexity and balance. They grow more than 20 different varietals on their 25-acre “patchwork quilt-like” vineyard, so they’re likely to have a few of your usual favorites, one or two varietals you’ve never before heard of, and of course, zinfandel!
They have been producing zinfandel, petite sirah and carignan on old head-pruned vines for over 20 years. Their “Block 4” field blend is a prime example of what Coffaro is producing from vines which were planted on their property over 120 years ago. David Coffaro also offer futures every day, all you need to do is ask for a barrel sample or two; futures give you the best insight of the deliciousness to come and also the best price.
4 – Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves
Walking into Bella’s wine cave is like walking into zinfandel heaven. Their tasting menu explores the diversity of Sonoma County wines, but the variety in zinfandels are what seals the deal. Explore the wine caves and enjoy the incredible serenity and breathtaking views while tasting small-production wines in their underground tasting room.
Winemaker, Joe Healy, loves to keep each wine an expression of the vineyard and even utilizes specific blocks within those vineyards into their more exclusive, limited bottles. You’ll find zin from their Lilly Hill Estate, Maple Vineyards, Florence Vineyard, and even from the acclaimed Rockpile/Dry Creek Valley region.
5 – Rued Winery
The Rued name has been around in Sonoma County for six generations and has been working the soils since 1882. But the Rued Wine label is relatively new with their first vintage in 2000 and their winery and tasting room opening just 10-years ago in 2006. Their wine is a testament to the family’s history of working the ground for many years and are true to the vineyard the grapes were grown in.
At Rued, treat yourself to their zinfandel. It is classic! Infused with bright fruit flavors of blackberry, cherry cola, vanilla and black pepper with a long, luxurious finish – this is a wine to remember.
6 – Geyser Peak Winery
You may not know it but the original Geyser Peak Winery is one of California’s oldest and most renowned wineries, Geyser Peak Winery was founded in 1880 in Alexander Valley before finding home in Dry Creek Valley in 2014. You can find many of Geyser Peaks wines at your local grocery, but you need to visit their tasting room for an incredible wine list of high-end offerings.
Under the Geyser Peak name is the XYZin label featuring their Reserve Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel which is the perfect fireside or grill-side companion. In this bottle you’ll find a sweet/tart fruit, notes of licorice, clove, and spearmint spice along with back notes of tarragon and thyme collude in a sumptuous palate structure.
Love Geyser Peak? Join us on-board in June 2018 as we cruise to Alaska! More information here.
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