Dry Creek Dads
Dry Creek Valley is full of family-owned wineries with history that spans generations. In celebration of Fathers Day, here’s a look at some Dry Creek dads.
Josh and Barry Collier
Josh Collier: When my family moved to Dry Creek Valley to grow grapes and make wine, I didn’t have much of a palate. While I’m still no expert, I have benefited from tasting each new vintage with my dad every year for the past eighteen years. We still have a couple of cases left of our very first wine, our 1997 Zinfandel, and we’ll share a bottle whenever we’re celebrating a special occasion. It’s a great way for me and my dad to reminisce, and reflect on how much has happened since that first harvest.
David Stare and Kim Stare Wallace in 1982
Kim Stare Wallace: Quite literally, I’ve been raised at Dry Creek Vineyard. I was at the ground-breaking ceremony, turning over the first shovel full of dirt with my dad in 1972. In the ‘80s, I was lured back into the business, first selling Dry Creek Vineyard wines in San Francisco. One memory that really stands out from those early days was a business trip that I took with my father to Alaska. Dad was kicking off the brand at a trade show in Alaska, and I was there to listen and learn. I have to say that we had a ball together! Yes, we worked but we also got to do lots of fun stuff including a fly fishing trip where I caught three 30-pound salmon – each fish was bigger than the one he caught! We also got to visit a glacier. I remember thinking, “This wine business stuff is actually fun!”
Thom Mauritson, center, with sons (L-R) Cameron, Clay, Bob, and Blake
Clay Mauritson: Birthdays and holidays are causes for celebration in my family, which usually means prime rib and great wine. My dad has a modest-but-meaningful wine collection. My dad’s wine cellar is located outside, so there was a sort of pomp and circumstance about the trek out to the cellar to grab whatever bottles would be opened on a special occasion. Whether it was a wine from a family member’s birth year from grapes my dad had grown, or an incredible bottle of vintage port, it was always very special. From an early age, we were given an understanding and appreciation of what it takes to make a bottle of wine. Today they call that farm-to-table; we just called it life!
Bill Kreck and Jeremy Kreck
Jeremy Kreck: The winery was started before I was born, so wine and grape growing has always been a part of my life. My dad taught me to drive a tractor when I was 12 or 13. After that, there were sales trips to New York, Chicago, and many other places. To this day, we pick and haul grapes at 3am and he entertains us all as “Willy the Whack” at Passport Parties. My dad has always been a strong mentor, a leader, and one cool dude.
Richard and David Mounts, fishing through the years.
David Mounts: You’d be surprised how much you can learn from your dad about grape growing while fishing. Countless hours waiting for the big one to bite makes way for priceless life lessons.
David Rafanelli holding baby Shelly
Shelly Rafanelli: I remember driving a tractor and pulling gondolas through the vineyard rows at harvest when I was 12 years old; the first time my dad showed me how to do a punch down in the open top fermenters; the painstaking task of measuring and laying out the wood and blocks for the barrels when our cave was finished. I always look up to my dad with regards to his experience and knowledge of the Dry Creek Valley. He knows the soils and microclimates so well. He also doesn’t get so worked up or stressed about the weather or harvest. These days, he’s the one telling me, “Don’t worry–it will all work out.” Hard coming from one perfectionists to another!
Gino, Ed, and Adam Sbragia
Adam Sbragia: Growing up, most of my friends’ parents were in the wine business, and all our dads had gone to college together. Sometimes, we would all go out and pick a bunch of second crop and make wine out of it. Us kids would be out in the field picking the grapes and hauling the picking bins around while the dads would be eating cheese and sipping champagne. After we finally got all the grapes into the trucks, we would go back to one of the houses and crush them. This was such a special time for me because I got a glimpse into what my dad did at work and I got to see what happened to our vineyards around my house after the grapes left in the “BIG TRUCKS”.
Ed Seghesio, center, with sons (L-R) David and Ted
Ted Seghesio: My dad, Ed, can pretty much do it all, but it’s his determined work ethic and kind heart that I see as two of his greatest gifts. The respect and time he pays to tending the land and the grapes is only outweighed by his dedication to his family. The fact that he is the most talented gardener I know and a great cook are just two more reasons why people can’t help but love him. Hands down, the best meal in town is a seat at his table. He is truly one of a kind – a gentleman of his word and one who gives without the expectation of receiving. I consider myself lucky to have learned from him, to know and love him, and to call him Dad.