Monthly Archives: November 2015

Winery Spotlight: Passalacqua Winery

Winery Spotlight: Passalacqua Winery

passalacqua winery banner

Every winery in Dry Creek Valley has a unique story to tell, and Passalacqua Winery is no exception. Passalacqua boasts one of the first-ever females to make wine and own a winery in California after prohibition.

The winery is family-owned, making wine and growing grapes in California for five generations. They specialize in small-lot production, taking part every aspect of the winery from planting and growing the grapes to making the wine.

History of this winery dates all the way back to 1865, when Francesco Passalacqua emigrated from Genoa, first embarking on San Francisco, before finally settling in Healdsburg. Once here, he immediately started planting grapes. Thirty years after, he opened Fitch Mountain Cellars. Though the winery closed long ago, visitors to downtown Healdsburg can still spot the original house and a half an acre of grapes on Fitch Street!

passalacqua winery table wines

A turning point came in 1930, when Francesco’s widow, Rachel, purchased the Oliveto Wine Company in Downtown Healdsburg. In 1933, her daughter, Edith, opened Sonoma Wine Cellars in that building. Edith was one of the first women in California to operate a winery after prohibition. To this day, Edith’s original label graces every bottle of their Estate Zinfandel.

In 1979, the third generation of winemakers made their mark. Tom Passalacqua and his wife, Sandi purchased a 300-acre ranch off of Mill Creek Road, at Dry Creek Valley’s southern tip. They planted cabernet sauvignon there.

In 2000, Tom and Sandi’s son, Jason, began making wine, inspired by his family’s rich history. In 2004, their current property on Lambert Bridge Road opened as what we know today as Passalacqua Winery. The winery includes a tasting room showcasing Zinfandel from select Dry Creek Valley vineyards and cabernet sauvignon from the family’s TR Passalacqua Vineyard.

Today, Jason Passalacqua continues his family tradition with pride. He involves his children (the fifth generation) in the business early on. Also, in continuing with the tradition of women winemakers, they hired Jessica Boone Bilbro as a winemaker in 2012! Check out their vineyard located in the heart of Dry Creek Valley and taste their exquisite 2013 Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel while sitting outside and taking in mesmerizing vineyard views. 

passalacqua winery view

Looking back at Harvest 2015 in Dry Creek Valley

Clean Crush pad at Martorana Family Winery

As predicted by Dry Creek Valley winegrowers, harvest 2015 was a smaller yielding year than any of the three vintages before it. That said, the quality of the grapes was outstanding. The 2015 vintage wines are in barrels and tanks right now, and most won’t see tasting rooms for some time. In the meantime, there are many beautiful wines from ‘12, ‘13, ‘14, and even earlier vintages to be tasted at Dry Creek Valley’s 60+ wineries.


Fall in love with Dry Creek Valley – an autumn photo essay

Most months, we find ourselves saying, “This is the most beautiful time of year in Dry Creek Valley!” This November, we really mean it. Whether you are at Bella Wine Caves, looking out on the valley floor from their Lily Hill Vineyard, or across the valley at Ferrari-Carano‘s deck, gazing at Lily Hill, the tapestry of fall colors gives the East Coast a run for its money! Did we mention there’s world class wine to taste, too?

Here’s a series of recent glimpses of Dry Creek Valley that will have you falling in love.

The view from Sbragia Family Winery's patio.

The view from Sbragia Family Winery‘s patio.

Old Vine Zinfandel at Kokomo Winery

Old Vine Zinfandel at Kokomo Winery

Between the rows at Collier Falls Winery

Between the rows at Collier Falls Winery

Fall leaves right outside Selby Winery's Healdsburg tasting room

Fall leaves right outside Selby Winery‘s Healdsburg tasting room

Newborn piglets at DaVero Farms and Winery

Newborn piglets at DaVero Farms and Winery

Leaves after a rain at Bella Wine Cave's Lily Hill Vineyard

Leaves after a rain at Bella Wine Cave’s Lily Hill Vineyard

Rainbow after the rain at Kokomo Winery

Rainbow after the rain at Kokomo Winery

View of Bella's Lily Hill Vineyard from Ferrari-Carano Winery

View of Bella’s Lily Hill Vineyard from Ferrari-Carano Winery