Posts Categorized: Sustainability

Winter Weather – A Photo Blog

This winter weather in Dry Creek Valley has been anything but dry! But all that rain sure does make for beautiful and unique pictures. Don’t worry, the vines are dormant this time of year and the weather does not harm them (or your favorite wines!) in any way.

Our wineries and visitors have a great eye for the aesthetic and capturing the natural beauty of any season! Here are some of our favorites:


Our #california vines got the cold shoulder this morning… #brrr ❄

A photo posted by A Wine&Spirits Top 100 Winery (@drycreekvineyard) on

Frost, fog & floods definitely sum up this winter & @DryCreekVineyard is seizing every picture-perfect moment.


We think @DeLaMontanya_Winery captioned this photo best!


Foggy vineyards make a moody and dramatic scene at the Dry Creek Valley General Store (@dcgs1881).


When you can’t see where the trees begin in the creek – you know it’s been a wet winter! Thanks @TzabachoRanchoVineyards for this great shot.


(Check in on the real-time winter weather in Dry Creek Valley – visit our Geography & Climate page!)


Lush cover crops between rows of vines at @KokomoWinery provide nutrients to the soils AND gorgeous bursts of colors in this winter weather.


Staying warm with our new fire pit… come visit us at #ComstockWines !! #cheers #drycreekvalley #wine #vino #sonomacounty

A photo posted by Comstock Wines (@comstockwines) on

Who says white wine is just for summer drinking? The new fire pit at @ComstockWines is the perfect place to enjoy any Dry Creek wine!


That would put the pot of gold right in the middle of Vera’s Block Sauvignon Blanc…

A photo posted by Mill Creek Winery (@millcreekwinery) on

And to wrap up a gorgeous rainbow at @MillCreekWinery. Proof there is beauty to any storm!


Instagram_App_Large_May2016_200 Be sure to follow the above wineries and us on Instagram @DryCreekValleyWines to keep up on all things Dry Creek Valley!

Tag us and use the hashtag #drycreekvalley for a chance to be featured across our social media channels.

In the Vineyard with Rich Mounts

In Mid-March, the rain subsided for a week in our idyllic Dry Creek Valley. We were able to venture out into the vineyards for a chat with, 2nd generation winegrower, Rich Mounts. His vineyards surround Mounts Family Vineyards with 140 acres of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and many specialty Rhone varietals for Mounts’ Verah label.

So what happens in our Dry Creek vineyards in mid-March? A lot more than you think! Here’s what Rich Mounts has been working on.


In the Vineyard - w picPNG


IMG_5976Pruning is a honed and coveted technique among wine growers. There are some who’d debate the “correct” technique for hours and hours. Over the winter vines sprout long vines out that won’t produce high (or any) amounts of wine if left unkempt.

An older technique that Rich goes by, is you prune by the size of the wood. If it’s smaller than a pencil, you’d only leave one spur, smaller than your finger, two, and smaller than thumb, three. But the general rule now is to leave two. Depending on the anticipated weather for the year, you can tailor the sugar content in your grapes at this point. Less spurs, results in higher-sugar wine, but if it’s a hot year and you expect major growth, you can allow for more spurs on your vine.

For the timing of pruning, it’s safe to say that the last vines you prune, will be the later to the harvest party. So many early harvest varietals are pruned first, Sauvignon Blanc, for example and last to prune are Cabernet Sauvignon which tend to come later in the season.

The majority of Rich’s 140 acres of vineyards are pruned. But due to the recent rain, there’s been a slight delay in completion.


Staking & TrellisingIMG_5980

For the younger vines, it’s important to go through and prevent leaning of canes which could result in snapping of the vines. After everything has been pruned, Rich and his workers go through and point out weaker canes that need support. It’s time to train these vines how they should grow, and in this case, grower knows best!





Bud Break
IMG_5977Happening all over Dry Creek right now is Bud Break! An exciting time as these little bundles turn into the fruit that creates your favorite wines. Each bud contains all of the ingredients in tiny forms — shoots, leaves, and berries, yet to be grapes.  These buds were carefully left in place by pruners, typically two buds on each spur as explained above. Bud break usually happens around April/May, but due to warmer weather in the county, has started as early as March as you can see in these photos.

Fingers crossed an early frost shatters these delicate little wine producers.


Cover Crops

IMG_5982In late winter, early spring you’re sure to notice the amazing cover crops adding lush greenery and color to our Dry Creek Valley. But did you know this is a vital part to ensure that our vineyards’ soil contain the perfect nutrients to produce quality wine?

Many vineyards plant bright yellow mustard.  But Mounts is partial to legumes! Rich plants a combination of bell beans, peas, and vetches. Not only do these crops release nitrogen into the soil but they also create great organic material that turns to into basically humus. This improves the structure of the soil. At this time in March you’ll slowly start to see less cover crops as growers and workers are working them down back into the soil as soon as the earth is dry.


That’s a brief summary of where our Dry Creek Valley vineyards are now. A big thanks to grower, Rich Mounts, for such a detailed tour of his vineyards and taking time out of his morning. Be sure to check out Mounts Family Winery on your next trip out to Dry Creek Valley for a gorgeous view, delicious wines and authentic Dry Creek Valley history.


Grower Speak Defined:
Canes: Canes are the one- or two-year-old branches of the grape plant. They grow as shoots off the main trunk. Vine growers train them to grow horizontally along wire trellises. It is from buds on these canes that the leaves and fruit of the grapevine grow.
Cordons: “arms”, of the grapevine extend from the trunk and are the part where additional arms and eventually leaves and grape clusters extend. The cordons are usually trained along wires as part of a trellis system
Humus: dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant matter decays.
Spur: Spurs are little arms that grow from the cordons. From the spurs grow one-year-old wood, which produces the leaves and grapes.

Our Valentine’s Date – We <3 Steelhead!

imagesJoin us on February 13th at the Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival

Rain or shine, the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley will be pouring your favorite wines at Lake Sonoma. Come celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend with the Steelhead and their annual journey up the Creek.

The festival will be held from 10a to 4p at the Mill Brandt Visitors Center at Lake Sonoma. This family friend event will have food trucks, wine (that’s us!), beer (Bear Republic), live music, interactive exhibits, and of course, plenty of fish! Did we mention that admission is FREE?!

Learn more about the 8th Annual Steelhead Festival 


A big THANK YOU to the below wineries for their continued dedication in both the Dry Creek restoration process and for graciously donating wine to pour at this event. All proceeds made from wine purchases will be going back to the Friends of Lake Sonoma to help keep this event free and keep fish happy on their adventure up the creek.

Amista Vineyards, Comstock Wines, Dry Creek Vineyard, Ferrari-Carano, Martorana Family Winery, Quivira Vineyards & Winery, Sbragia Family Vineyards and Truett Hurst Winery.

When you come visit our tent, be sure to stop by the Sonoma County Water Agency’s table and learn more about their amazing restoration project and progress. Continue reading to learn a little bit more.

There’s plenty of fish in the sea Dry Creek, thanks to the Fish Habitat Restoration Project!


A six-mile habitat enhancement project is being conducted by the Sonoma County Water Agency in cooperation with wineries, private landowners, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in order to provide an enhanced habitat for endangered Coho salmon and threatened Steelhead and Chinook. The project will use boulders, root wads, and logs to create backwaters, side channels, and shady habitats for the young fish that live in Dry Creek during the summer.  The project is intended to restore Dry Creek to its original flow and restore the original ecosystem so that wildlife can thrive.

This project has been in the works since 2008 and is over half way complete! We’ve restored the first mile of Dry Creek, and in the coming years will restore an additional two miles of habitat. You can download a PDF of this timeline if you’re interested in more information.

Many of our wineries border Dry Creek and are an integral part of the initiative to create a friendlier habitat for migrating steelhead and chinook. The restoration process involves two steps – the first involves restoring the gravel beds that are the spawning grounds for salmon and steelhead and the second requires pulling back the steep creek banks and building natural retaining walls using rocks and willow trees.

dt.common.streams.StreamServerAmista Vineyards was one of the first on board with the SCWA’s restoration and have monitored the progress over the past year as the creek banks have been rebuilt at their property. Don Wallace of Dry Creek Vineyards states that, “the project makes good sense. It’s going to be good for our land values. But even more important, it’s good for the environment.” All natural materials are used to create a more stable stream bank and resting points for these fish on their adventures to Lake Sonoma. Martorana Family Wineries has been recognized for their efforts in restoring Dry Creek by The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies in 2014 with the Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award.

In 2010, The Department of Fish & Game worked closely with Quivirdt.common.streams.StreamServer (1)a in a restoration project that released 6,600 juvenile Coho Salmon into Wine Creek, which adjoins with Dry Creek at the winery. The Coho are equipped with a PIT tag antenna that can estimate efficiency and determine the number of migrating Coho and the number of adults returning to the creek. Read more about their other great conservation projects on their website. Quivira’s bio-dynamic friends at Truett-Hurst are no stranger to these efforts. Visit their winery and sit in their classic red Adirondack chairs by the creek with a glass of their Dragonfly Red Blend to appreciate what these efforts have all worked for.

Images pulled from The Press Democrat.