Posts Categorized: Wine Paired With Life

11 FUN FACTS ABOUT HARVEST

11 FUN FACTS ABOUT HARVEST

  1. Most grapes are harvested at night! Harvesting at night saves money (no need to cool grapes before crushing), is easier on the workers and ensures a stable sugar level in the grapes, something that fluctuates when the temperature rises.

 

  1. The flavors of wine are affected by how long the grapes are on the vine. Earlier harvested grapes have lower sugar levels and higher acidity for a crisp, tart wine (typically white wines!). Red grapes require a more balanced sugar and acidity level for complexity. And dessert wines are left on the vines the longest!

 

  1. It’s not the grapes that determine the color, it’s the skin. Skin contact when making wine is called “maceration” and extracts color and fruit flavor from the skins without any bitter tannins! Think of it like making a cup of tea and how leaving a tea bag in your cup affects the color and flavor.

 

  1. Rosé isn’t a grape variety like zinfandel or sauvignon blanc, rather a style of winemaking that is made from red wine grapes!  To achieve the pink shades found in rosé, a wine is kept in contact with the grape skins for just hours. You can learn more about the different styles of rosé here

 

  1. Sauvignon blanc was first planted in Dry Creek Valley by Dry Creek Vineyard founder, David Stare. This grape grows best in DCV due to the well-draining + mineral rich soils and notable temperature change from day to night aka the diurnal shift! Read more about Dry Creek Valley’s signature white wine.

 

  1. Today, nearly 2,200 acres of zinfandel are farmed in Dry Creek Valley making it the top planted grape in the region. In the 1870s, Frenchman Georges Bloch planted the first zinfandel in Dry Creek Valley. By the 1880s, zin was the dominant grape planted across 900 acres of the region and continues to be to this day.  

 

Giovanni and John Pedroncelli

Jim and his son John Pedroncelli in the vineyard.

  1. After about age 50, a zinfandel vine is considered “old,” but at 50, zin may not yet be half-way through its life. In Dry Creek Valley, you will find vineyards with vines that are more than 120-years-old! “Old vines contribute an intensity and complexity of flavor to the wine that cannot be replicated by any other method,” says Ridge Vineyards, whose 115-year-old Lytton-Springs vines make one of the nation’s best-loved Dry Creek Valley zinfandel blends. Want to study up on Old Vine Zin? We got you covered.

 

  1. The big 3 of a winemaker’s decision to harvest grapes are sugar, acid and tannin. Sugar and acid are measured with a refractometer – tannins however are sampled by tasting the grape!

 

The traditional “blessing” of the first chardonnay grapes brought in at Amista Vineyards

  1. Cheers! Grapes for sparkling wines are harvested notably earlier than others because winemakers are looking for a higher acidity. They are harvested with extra care as to not to disturb the flavors and minimize any harsh compounds that may be imparted from the skin of the grape. Be on the lookout for new sparkling wines coming from Dry Creek Valley wineries in the future!

 

  1. Did you know that it takes a newly planted vineyard at least 3-years to produce fruit that’s quality enough to go grape to glass? Then at least a year after that until your bottled wine is ready to drink! More if you’re looking to age your wine in oak.  Good thing we’re patient – mostly because we know it’s worth the wait.

 

  1. Time for some harvest math! Per acre of wine there are 1.5-7 tons of grapes produced. Per ton of grapes there are roughly 150 gallons of wine. 1 barrel of wine is 60 gallons which is about 295 bottles of wine (24 cases). AND there are ~30lbs of grapes per case of wine and ~2.4lbs of grapes in one bottle of wine. Phew – time for a glass!

Harvest is one of the best times to visit us in Dry Creek Valley.

Start planning your trip today.

 


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Summer of 2018 in Dry Creek Valley

All seasons in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Wine Country are beautiful ones; but there’s something about the summer atmosphere that has our hearts. Tasting rooms are bustling, grape vines are full of growth and vigor, white and rosé wines get their moment in the sun, BBQ & zinfandel on the daily, picnics by the creek with fresh baguettes & local delicacies from the Dry Creek General Store…trust us, we could go on!

We wanted to share some of our favorite snapshots from this summer of 2018 in Dry Creek Valley. Don’t forget to use #drycreekvalley for a chance to be featured on our website & social channels, and if you want a little Dry Creek Valley in your every day, follow us on Instagram (@drycreekvalleywines).


These bees are busy in the biodynamic gardens at Quivira Vineyards! Featured on our Agritourism Itinerary.

 


Lots of sun means the solar panels at eco-friendly Ridge are happy and brimming with sustainable energy!

 


Visit Dry Creek in late-July early August and you might catch a glimpse of these beautiful bunches. Turning purple and delicious. Next step – harvest!

 


A big welcome to our newest winery, Zo Wines! Be sure to check out their all encompassing farm-stay for a true grape-to-glass experience.

 


Summer concerts are good for the soul. We’re so lucky Geyser Peak always has such an incredible line-up! Visit our events page to see what else is going on in the Valley.

 


Freshly harvested Dry Creek Peaches. Need we say more?

 


Sundresses + vineyards + sunglasses + glass filled from one of our Dry Creek Valley wineries = the picture perfect day.

 


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National Grilling Month – Week 3 Ft. Ridge’s Wine Country Spiced Lamb Spiedini

We’re over half-way through National Grilling Month and over half-way through the winegrowing season. The winegrapes begin to change color (aka veraison) and warm sunny days transition into the most beautiful evenings.

This means we’ve been spending more time outside enjoying shared big plates of grilled goodies, pies, lots of laughs and, of course, Dry Creek Valley wine. For week 3 of National Grilling Month, we’ve got the perfect recipe from Ridge Winery for your next al fresco meal.


Ridge’s Wine Country Spiced Grilled Lamb Spiedini with Grapes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley (divided)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground lavender
  • ¼ teaspoon hot chile flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds boned leg of lamb, fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound red flame seedless grapes
  • 10 bamboo skewers, soaked in water overnight

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, 1 tablespoon parsley, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, thyme, coriander, lavender, chile flakes, and pepper. Add lamb and mix to coat thoroughly.
  2. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  3. Thread cubes of lamb alternately with grapes onto 6 or 7 skewers.
  4. Lay skewers over a solid bed of medium-hot coals or medium-high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds). If using a gas grill, close the lid.
  5. Cook, turning skewers as needed, until lamb is browned on all sides but still pink in the center (medium-rare: 5 to 6 minutes), or just barely pink in the center (medium: 6 to 7 minutes).
  6. Pair with Bold, full-bodied zinfandels. Try it with Lytton Springs (excellent with older vintages too).

    Recipe provided by Chef Jesse McQuarrie of Feast Catering

Why this pairing works: Ridge Lytton Springs is an incredibly balanced wine that will please all of your guests. It has the rich, brambly fruit flavors you’d expect from a wine that’s 74% zinfandel but also structured tannins and balanced acid – making it a perfect complement to the spices like thyme and lavender in this grilled dish. If you choose a vintage that has been in the bottle for a few years, you’ll find more complexity and a softer style of red blend.  Check out Ridge’s website for more pairings specially crafted to pair with their variety of wines.


View past recipes here:

Amista’s Strip Steak with Arugula Pesto

Martorana’s Olio di Gio Pesto Marinated Grilled Shrimp

Pedroncelli’s Grilled Italian Sausages with Fennel, Red Onion and Basil Gremolada

Seghesio’s Grilled Berkshire Pork Chops with White Cheddar Polenta, Swiss Chard and Blueberry Compote


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NATIONAL GRILLING MONTH – WEEK 2 FT. AMISTA’S STRIP STEAK & PEDRONCELLI’S GRILLED SAUSAGE

The celebration continues as we feature weekly grilling recipes from your favorite Dry Creek Valley wineries and wines.

For week 2, we’re featuring Amista’s Strip Steak with Arugula Pesto & Pedroncelli’s Grilled Sausage with Fennel, Red Onion and Basil Gremolada. What’s the first pairing that comes to your mind? Keep reading and find out what each winery chose to pair with these grilled delicacies.


Amista’s Strip Steak with Arugula Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless strip steak about 2 inches thick
  • 5/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 springs thyme
  • 4 tbsps unsalted butter
  • 10 ozs baby arugula
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 4 tbsps finely grated Parmesan cheese


Directions

  1. Heat the BBQ until hot; lower to medium heat. Lightly rub the steak with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the steak to the grill and cook over moderate heat until browned on the first side, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, herb sprigs and butter.
  2. Turn the steak to the other side for 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the steak on each of it’s sides until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Lay the steak flat, baste with the garlic butter. Continue to cook the steak for about 3 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125° for medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add the arugula and cook for 10 seconds, then drain and cool under running water. Squeeze out the excess water and transfer the blanched arugula to a food processor. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts, the Parmesan and the olive oil. Pulse to a coarse paste. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
  4. Thinly slice the steak and arrange on a platter. Spoon the pesto over the steak, sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts and serve.
  5. Pair with Amista’s Cabernet Sauvignon for a “wow” moment.

Why this pairing works: This Cabernet has rich concentrated blackberry and a touch of roasted strawberry jam. It opens up to big, broad tannins that are bold and balanced making it an incredible pairing with grilled meats.


Pedroncelli’s Grilled Italian Sausages with Fennel, Red Onion and Basil Gremolada

Ingredients:

  • 4 Spicy Italian turkey sausages
  • ¼ C olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • ½ t kosher salt
  • 1 large red onion, cleaned, cutting into 12 wedges
  • 2 medium bulbs fennel, cleaned and quartered
  • ½ large head of cauliflower, sliced vertically to create ‘steaks’ about 1 inch thick
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh basil, cleaned
  • 1 oz pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to medium-high. Drizzle olive oil on vegetables, lightly salt for grilling. Once grill is heated place a grilling mat or aluminum BBQ tray on one side and add onions and fennel. (for ease of grilling you may want to blanche or microwave the cauliflower before placing on the grill or grill pan) Simultaneously grill sausages, being careful not to let the grill “flare up”. Vegetables should be lightly caramelized and fork tender.
  2. In a food processor add basil, garlic, a pinch of red pepper flakes, lemon zest, pine nuts and salt. Blend until nearly smooth. Add olive oil a little at a time and emulsify.
  3. Assemble the plate drizzling the Gremolada over the sausage and cauliflower. Sprinkle with pecorino romano cheese.
  4. This flavorful recipe will pair with many of your favorite Pedroncelli’s wines – try it with Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Classico or Zinfandel.

Why this pairing works: This versatile recipe complements the freshness and acidity in Pedroncelli’s Sauvignon Blanc or, if you prefer red wine, the structure of Sonoma Classico and its mild tannins make this a wonderful grill-side pairing.


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National Grilling Month – Week 1 ft. Martorana’s Olio di Gio Shrimp and Seghesio’s Pork Chops & Polenta

We’re celebrating National Grilling month all July long with our wineries’ favorite BBQed pairings ranging from the classic to the adventurous. We all know Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is the quintessential wine to pair with all things grilled – and trust us, you’ll get some of those pairings, but did you know that Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rhone wines and Cabernet can also complement the savory goodness that your grill imparts?

For week 1, we’re featuring Matorana’s Olio di Gio’s Pesto Marinated Grilled Shrimp and Seghesio’s Grilled Berkshire Pork Chops with White Cheddar Polenta, Swiss Chard and Blueberry Compote. Can you guess what these experts paired with these grilled delicacies? You’ll have to read and find out!


Martorana’s Olio di Gio Pesto Marinated Grilled Shrimp

Picture source:Cook Your Food.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
  • 4 tablespoons Olio di Gio olive oil from Martorana Family Winery
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

Directions:

  1. To make the pesto, pulse the basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, Olio di Gio olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  2. Marinate the shrimp in the pesto for at least 20 minutes, up to overnight, in the fridge.
  3. Skewer the shrimp (if using bamboo skewers, soak for at least 20 minutes prior to grilling).
  4. Grill the skewers over medium-high heat until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  5.  Serve with lemon wedges and a glass of 2017 Sauvignon Blanc or 2016 Chardonnay from Martorana Family Winery.

Why we love this pairing: the herbaceous qualities of thyme in the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc perfectly complement the fresh herbs used in the pesto while the nutty characteristics from the Chardonnay shine when next to their pine nut and parmesan friends.

You can find Martorana’s wine and olive oil via their website or their tasting room on West Dry Creek Rd


Seghesio’s Grilled Berkshire Pork Chops with White Cheddar Polenta, Swiss Chard and Blueberry Compote

This is an easy and delicious summertime dish – so don’t be intimidated by the steps. You can marinate the pork, cook the chard and make the compote one day ahead of time as well, leaving just the polenta and grilling Berkshire Pork Long-Bone Chops for the day of the meal.

PORK

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 each Berkshire Long-Bone Chops
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

The pork should be marinated a minimum of six hours but 24 hours would be ideal if you have the time. Toss all ingredients together and keep cold. You should pull the pork out of refrigerator and allow to come up to room temperature for at least an hour before grilling.

POLENTA —

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup fresh grated aged white cheddar cheese
  • 3 T butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring the stock and milk to a boil.
  2. Whisk in polenta and continue to whisk until polenta sets – around 4-5 minutes. Then cook on low heat until soft.
  3. When finished cooking, add butter and cheese, taste and add salt if needed.
  4. You can keep covered and hold warm until you cook the pork.

CHARD —

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 bunches Swiss chard – destemmed, cleaned and cut into 1 inch strips
  • 2 each cloves of garlic sliced thin
  • ½ lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sweat garlic in oil on medium heat until soft, then add leaves of chard.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, and allow chard to wilt.
  3. When wilted, season with salt and pepper to your taste and add the juice from ½ of one lemon.
  4. If made ahead of time just heat up in pan on medium flame.

BLUEBERRY COMPOTE —

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T plus 1 t of cornstarch
  • ¼ cup port
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 each shallots diced fine
  • 1 T of butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Coat berries in mixing bowl with sugar and cornstarch using a spoon. Make sure cornstarch and sugar are distributed evenly. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
  2. Sweat the shallots in butter using a small sauce pan. Do not allow any color on the shallots.
  3. Once the shallots are soft, add port and red wine vinegar and reduce by ½.
  4. Add the blueberry mixture and cook until everything starts to thicken slightly and berries begin to soften.
  5. If preparing the day ahead, allow to cool at room temperature and then refrigerate. To warm at a later time, heat gently in sauce pan or in oven to prevent scorching.

ASSEMBLY —

Pull pork from marinade and scrape off excess marinade with the hands to prevent garlic from burning on grill. Cook over medium-high charcoal until desired doneness is achieved. I generally pull mine at 145 degrees for a pink and juicy medium. Enjoy with a glass of Seghesio’s 2015 Cortina Zinfandel.

Why we love this pairing: this recipe joins together savory and sweet so well that we feel it highlights the best qualities in this bottle of wine – its subtle white pepper spice and classic dark cherry and raspberry notes make it truly a perfect barbecued pairing.

You can find Seghesio’s wine online, at their tasting room, or at a variety of wine shops and grocery stores near you.


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Wine Paired With Life: Fall Night-In

Fall Night In Image Dry Creek Valley

With October being a busy month for all – sometimes we think the best way to relax is in the comfort of your own home, turn on your new favorite tv show and enjoy the company of your longest friends. This removes the hassle and hustle of going out. While we’re 100% in support of ordering your favorite Chinese take-out for your friends to pair with a refreshing Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc, why not try something new! Here are a few quick, easy recipes to help you look like a pairing-pro and that are sure to delight even your pickiest of friends (looking at you, Karen!)

 

Rhone Whites & Cheesy Pumpkin Chickpea Croquettes

There’s no doubt that the Pumpkin is the ultimate icon for October, so let’s celebrate with this crunchy take on classic fall flavor. Pair these bites with a medium-bodied Rhone white wine, such as Marsanne-Roussane, Viognier or a blend and let the stone-fruit and nutty flavors complement the cheesy goodness of your croquettes.

We suggest these Dry Creek Valley Rhone Whites:

Trattore Farms & Winery – MR (60% Marsanne, 40% Roussanne), $35

Mounts Family Winery – Verah Blanc (52% Roussanne, 37% Grenache Blanc, 6% Picpoul Blanc & 5% Marsanne), $28

West Wines – Viognier, $23

Find the recipe for Cheesy Pumpkin Chickpea Croquettes by clicking here to go to Babble.com

 

Zinfandel & BBQ Turkey Meatballs

We know that turkey doesn’t take center stage until the end of November, but why does turkey only get Thanksgiving in the sun? This versatile and healthy meat works so well with the spices from your favorite BBQ sauce making it a perfect pairing for Dry Creek Valley’s signature red wine – Zinfandel! We won’t tell your friends how many of these you ate before they actually showed up…promise.

Try pairing any of these Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels:

Dry Creek Vineyard – Old Vine Zinfandel, $32

Chateau Diana – Zombie Zin, $9 or $28 for reserve

Seghesio Family Vineyards – Cortina Zinfandel, $40

Whip up a batch of these spicy turkey meatballs with this recipe from Sugar Dish Me.

 

Carignane & Sweet Potato Rounds with Goat Cheese

Carignane comes typically bursting with fall flavors of cranberries and baking spice. Making it one of our favorite wines to drink when the leaves turn. This wine is renowned for is food pairing capability so you are welcome to branch off and try your own special recipe. One incredible pairing we can’t get enough of is this savory sweet combination of sweet potatoes and goat cheese.

Stock up on these Dry Creek Valley Carignanes for Autumn:

Frick Winery – Carignane, $26

Peterson Winery – Carignane, Bradford Mountain Estate, $30

Amphora Vineyards – Carignane, Forchini Vineyards, $35

Check out Ciao Florentina for this tasty Sweet Potato Rounds recipe.


What are your favorite Dry Creek Valley pairings to share with friends? Share with us on our social channels for a chance to be featured on our page!

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Get a Taste of Dry Creek Valley at the 10th Anniversary of Outside Lands

Outside Lands & Dry Creek Valley Wineries

Concerts and music festivals have evolved far past the ordinary wine and the pretzel cart. Nowadays, music festivals are just as much about the food and drinks as they are about the headliners. Many festivals see this as a chance to get their own culinary and libation rock stars involved and Outside Lands is the perfect example. This festival has had music legends on their stage, such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Radiohead, Tom Petty and many more. This weekend, The Who, Gorillaz & Metallica take the reins and will entertain thousands in Golden Gate Park.

A Bay Area celebration wouldn’t be complete without a fabulous wine component. And we just so happen to have a few of our own Dry Creek Valley winery members participating!

Going to the festival? Plan ahead and check out these pairings and get the whole #DryCreekValley, Sonoma Wine Country experience in Golden Gate Park.


Dry Creek Vineyard

(Photos from Dry Creek Vineyard’s Instagram)

When you think of Dry Creek Vineyard you think classic. Celebrating 45 years in Dry Creek Valley, they have become a flagship winery & champion for the entire AVA (American Viticultural Area). Daughter of founder and now President of Dry Creek Vineyard, Kim Stare Wallace, has a clear vision for Dry Creek Vineyard, “honor the past while striving to produce wines of outstanding distinction that consistently over deliver and provide great enjoyment to wine drinkers worldwide.”

With this vision in mind, we choose to pair Dry Creek Vineyard wines with the Bay Area Classics found at this decennary celebration of Outside Lands.  Grab your glass of Dry Creek Vineyard wine and stop by the Tartine food stand for a Mortadella Hoagie from this prominent bakery. Or for a classic, nautical pairing visit “Outside Clams,” where legendary Woodhouse Fish Company will be serving up BBQ oysters, clam chowder and lobster rolls.

 

Preston Farm & Winery

(Photos from Preston’s website & Instagram)

Preston is one of the best known family-operated, organic and biodynamic property in Dry Creek Valley. At the roots of biodynamics is a community that works to create ecological harmony. Preston embraces the spirituality, organic treatments and respect for nature as a means to achieve what they believe to be their duty as farmers. Their mission? “A dedication to the protection and enhancement of this dynamic through the practice of enlightened farming, the honoring of tradition, and the sharing of agrarian experience.”

It only seems just to pair Preston wines with one of the many organic food stands at Outside Lands. Pair with the aptly named, The Farmer’s Daughter, for a Sausage, Avocado & Kimchi Melt and bond with Mother Nature, or simply stroll through the Farmer’s Market area at the festival and grab a giant watermelon slice to pair with your Preston wine and bring you back to earth.

 

Reeve Wines

(Photos from Reeve Wines’ Instagram)

Reeve Wines was created by wine lovers, Noah & Kelly Dorrance as their gateway to creative winemaking. Their ‘passion-project,’ as they call it, is a winery that crafts composed and sophisticated wines all while mining the best of what California grapes can produce.

It is rightfully so that you pair Reeve Wines with a food that pars a creative level and affection for California diversity. We’d suggest an “Ethnic Confusion Burrito” from Festival newbies & San Francisco locals – Dabba or a Lamb Sloppy Joe from the 7-year vets at Azalina’s.


Even if you’re not attending the festival this year, we encourage you to be adventurous with your wine pairings! Try a varietal you’re unfamiliar with. Pair your favorite with a new ethnic cuisine. It may surprise you.

And be sure to share with us on social media if you’ve tried any of the above pairings using the hashtag #drycreekvalley. We may even choose your photo to be featured to our 25k+ fans.

 

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Planning a Girls Weekend in Wine Country

“Planning a girls’ weekend in wine country can be fun. Loving wine goes beyond the bottle — all the way back to where it starts in the vineyard. Long rows of vines cut through valleys and coastal hillsides to set the scene. Throw in a cast of seasoned confidantes and trusted sisters and you’ve got the makings of a weekend to remember.” – California Winery Advisor

Get social with your favorite winegrowing region and share your Dry Creek Valley Wine Country adventure with us . We may even feature you in our next post!

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Need some help getting started?

Check out our Itineraries for some inspiration.

Get social with your favorite winegrowing region and share your Dry Creek Valley Wine Country adventure with us . We may even feature you in our next post!

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WINE COUNTRY ETIQUETTE

As summer approaches, we thought it might be best to recap on our Wine Country Etiquette, because as our parents told us growing up, “manners matter.” Use this blog to freshen up on your tasting skills or perhaps prepare for your first time out in the Valley.


PLAN YOUR DAY OUT

-During summer, many wineries in Dry Creek Valley are open to the public seven days a week. But there are some places where this isn’t the case. Use our Winery Map and plan your route ahead by amenities, varietals, location or even dog friendly locations. On this map, you’ll also find contact information to call ahead to schedule a personalize appointment for a more exclusive moment with the winery. If you are travelling with a group larger than 6, your best bet is to always call ahead. Especially with the smaller, family owned wineries, accommodating a large group is sometimes difficult if unexpected.

 

-With a 16-mile long Valley and 60+ wineries, you’re bound to see some places along the way that weren’t on the original itinerary and want to drop in. There is no problem with stopping by and sending a representative from your group in and explaining your situation, you could say something along the lines of, “we saw your winery on our route to XX winery and would love to taste here. We are a group of XX – would you be able to accommodate us now? Or we can come back after our next stop.” Respect the host if they say they are unable and simply plan to schedule ahead on your next trip.

 

-Plan for someone in your group to be a Designated Driver or hire one of your own. Cell service is limited throughout the valley so rideshare apps can be difficult to use to their full potential.

 

Bring your lunch & snacks. Unless you are visiting a winery specifically for their food & wine experience (again, reserve these ahead of time!), then plan on bringing your lunch in a cooler. Before you bring out the cooler, ask the winery if it is okay if you can picnic there after your tasting. Do not bring outside alcohol. Some wineries offer selections of cheese, salami, bread and snacks but it’s best to be prepared for a day of tasting.


TASTING KNOWLEDGEABLY, RESPECTFULLY & RESPONSIBLY

-Taste in the suggested order of the tasting menu. Feel free to skip varietals if you have a strong aversion, but your palette will thank you for sticking with the winery’s tasting menu.

 

-Ask questions! If you’re unsure what a varietal is, where a region is, or what that one red fruit note is that you’re tasting, feel free to ask! There are no silly questions when it comes to wine.

 

-Swirl your glass. Sniff the aromas. Taste the wine. And don’t be embarrassed to ask for a spit cup from the winery. They will not be offended if you spit out wine. This is the responsible way to taste especially if you are tasting at multiple wineries. Same goes for pouring out wine into the dump buckets.

 

-Make room for other guests at the tasting room bar. Some tasting rooms can get crowded very quickly. When in duos, you can line-up behind each other or if you are in a group you can back away from the bar after receiving your taste to make room for others.

 

Avoid wearing perfume, scented lotions or cologne while tasting. Smells strongly effect how you taste wines. Wearing additional scents will only impair this for yourself and for the entire tasting room.

 

-A standard pour at wine tasting is an ounce to ounce-and-a-half. This is plenty to decipher the nuances. Don’t expect a full glass of wine of each varietal on the menu. Many wineries offer sales by the glass if you are interested. Typically at the end of your tasting your host will ask you to “revisit” any wines. This is your chance to taste again and see if there’s anything you want to bring home with you!

 

-Clear your palate between tastes with either a sip of water, a bite of bread or other neutral foods.

 

-The best way to taste wine is to use four out of five senses – notice the color and hue, sniff for any distinct aromas, taste for flavors and feel the texture it leaves on your tongue and in your mouth. Tip: if a wine makes your mouth feeling like it’s dry – that’s the tannins playing around!

 

(Want to learn how to taste wine from the experts themselves? Join us at Winemakers in Conversation this July for an incredible summer food & wine experience. Use the code EMAIL25 for 25% off! Click here to learn more.)

 

-To learn more about the technique behind tasting wines – visit Wine Folly’s guide!

 

-Make notes as you taste. You’ll usually be provided with a tasting menu and pen for this very reason. This will be a great reference when you are looking to purchase wine or join a new wine club.

 

-Tipping your tasting room host is not so much an obligation as if you were going out to eat, but it depends on the experience. If someone at the tasting room has gone out of their way to make your visit incredible, a tip is appreciated but not expected. When tastings are private, seated or if a food component is involved you should plan on tipping your associate.

 

-If you have an experience above and beyond hospitality – remember and send a review to the winery via mail or email.

 

-Remember – have fun! Wine is fun, social, delicious, and not to mention the wine country views are not to be beat. Each winery has its own personality and style for you to experience. And it’s all waiting just for you, here in Dry Creek Valley.

 


Share your pics from tasting in Dry Creek Valley using #DryCreekValley for a chance to be featured across our social media channels!


Wines for Graduation

It’s the Pomp & Circumstance of the wine world! Whether you’re celebrating your own graduation or coping with your child graduating school. Here are some Dry Creek Valley wines to celebrate this important milestone in your life.


The Pre-Ceremony Lunch

Kokomo Rosé – Pauline’s Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

“The subtle hue and aromas of watermelon and strawberry introduce the senses to this wine.  Melon, peach and strawberry juice explodes on the palate with hints of minerality, vibrant acidity, and a long mouth-watering finish.” – Kokomo Wines

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This not so traditional Rose has received high-praise for its summer qualities. This wine is perfect to drink with lunch pre-ceremony as it is light, refreshing and tastes like celebration in a bottle.

 

The Toast

West Wines Seafoam Sparkling Wine, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

“Made from our estate grown Chardonnay grapes, this elegant sparkling wine has aromas of green apple and Asian pear which contribute on the palate in addition to fresh citrus and rounder tones of brioche.” –  West Wines

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Skip the name-brand for the toast on graduation day and go with something unique and as rare as the graduate! West Wines new Seafoam Sparkling is the perfect fit for that toast you’ve been working on for weeks (or minutes!)

 

The BBQ Dinner

Gustafson Zinfandel – Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

“Bright strawberry, ripe bing cherries, an enticing hint of sweet vanilla, and a delicate floral note that contributes to the wine’s delightful buoyancy. The palate is smooth with soft tannins and an inviting touch of spice, and the finish is clean and pleasantly lingering.” – Gustafson

Gustafson’s Zinfandel is a crowd pleaser. It epitomizes Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel and is perfect to pair with anything grilled. This is the wine that will impress all of your family and friends!

 

The Gift

A. Rafanelli – Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

“A well-structured wine with the inviting flavors of black cherry and plum, shaded by a touch of toasted oak. The rich flavors wrap around the fine tannins to coat the palate and end with a measure of finesse and grace. Sip on this Cab with a slice of decadent mocha cake.” – A. Rafanelli

Who not love Cab from Dry Creek. Wonderful day to walk into the vineyard.

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This wine is one for the new (or seasoned) collector’s cellar. This aging-worthy wine is one to get your hands on and not let go of. You’ll be tempted to drink it now, but trust us when we say let this wine take it’s time.

 

Something Sweet

Bella Winery – Late Harvest Zinfandel

“Late Harvest zinfandel is a beautiful blend of fruit and spice. On the nose, savory herbs interlace with blackberry cordial. Aniseseed and dark fruit lead into a lingering, full mouthfeel.” – Bella

This tasty sip is the perfect way to end a celebration. Without being cloyingly sweet, it’s the holy grail of late harvest wines. Pair this with a dark chocolate peanut butter cake – and you’ll be ready to take on whatever the world has for you (or your graduate) after graduation day!


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