Dry Creek Valley Spotlight: Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery
Late fall and winter is a great time to visit Dry Creek Valley. The air is crisp and the bare grapevines provide starkly beautiful scenery. A hearty zinfandel or a juicy red blend tastes as delicious as ever when it’s cold outside. Perhaps best of all, tasting rooms are quieter than in summer months, which means visitors can count on a highly personalized experience. Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery, one of the busiest tasting rooms in the Valley, is an especially great stop to make on your journey. This month, we’re putting the spotlight on a Sonoma mainstay.
Ferrari-Carano is one of the biggest wineries in Dry Creek Valley, and a household name for wine drinkers all over the US. In 1979, Don and Rhonda Carano purchased 30 acres of land. They made their first vintage in 1985. Nearly 30 years later, the winery has expanded to 19 different vineyards, now spanning 1,700 acres across six appellations. Despite the large scope of their production, the Carano family has maintained an unwavering dedication to growing brilliant wines with a personal touch. The winery in Healdsburg sits on five acres of intricately-landscaped gardens.
Steve Domenichelli, a fourth-generation farmer, acts as Director of Vineyard Operations, ensuring that the grapes are given the necessary attention to produce complex, beautiful wines. Ferrari-Carano’s winemakers, Sara Quider and Rebecka Deike, will both confirm the adage that you need great grapes in order to make great wine.
Quider began her winemaking career at Ferrari-Carano as a seasonal intern for the 1995 harvest. Nearly 20 years later, she’s the executive winemaker. Along the way, she earned a degree from UC Davis in Viticulture and Enology. Deike joined Ferrari-Carano as their Enologist in 2004 and today she is the associate winemaker for their red wines. We asked each winemaker a few questions about their experience at Ferrari-Carano.
How does it work to have separate winemakers for your red wines and your white wines?
SQ: All the white wines are made at the estate winery here in Dry Creek Valley, and all the red wines are made at our hillside vineyard in Alexander Valley. Both of us winemakers have worked together for more than 15 years and we work really well as a team. We are constantly tasting each other’s wine and value the other’s opinion. By having two separate facilities, we can both focus our attentions on specific wines.
What are your favorite grapes to work with?
SQ: I love making Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.
RD: Dry Creek Zinfandel and Malbecs!
What makes Dry Creek Valley special?
SQ: It’s so picturesque. I love driving down Dry Creek Road and looking at the beautiful rolling hills and vineyards.
RD: I am an avid cyclist and feel that Dry Creek valley is an absolutely beautiful to ride bicycles!! Lake Sonoma has pretty nice mountain bike trails as well. And, after you are done with your bike ride, a nice glass of Zinfandel or Fume Blanc will hit the spot!
Villa Fiore and the cellar are decorated for the holiday season and The Wine Shop is full of gift ideas for every wine lover on your list. They offer tours Monday through Saturday at 10:00am by appointment and special private tastings too, except the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s. To read more about Ferrari-Carano’s history, philosophy, and team, please visit www.ferraricarano.com.