Posts Categorized: Wineries & Vineyards

2020 Passport Themes: Immersive and Imaginative

Step out of reality and into a wine filled fantasy. Join in the fun as these wineries are transformed into places beyond your imagination. Take part in a nautical adventure or travel through magical lands while sipping on your favorite wines. Enjoy the views and search for clues while you put the pieces together to a murder mystery. 

Keep reading for themes from: Bella Vineyards + Wine Caves, Dry Creek Vineyard, Michel Schlumberger Wine Estate, Sbragia Family Vineyards

Don’t have your tickets yet – well what are you waiting for? 

(or click here to check-out directly through Eventbrite)

Travel past reality and into a world beyond at  Bella Vineyards + Wine Caves

No photo description available.

9711 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg/ 707-473-9171

Beyond Wonderland… A secret forest awaits. Come join a band of curious travelers as we voyage beyond wonderland into a magical world of enchantment and mystery. Follow the fireflies golden light as they lure and guide you deep into the forest, through willows boughs and gentle leaves. Watch the enchanted woodlands come alive. There will be pixies playing, an opera of musicians and mischief makers, glimpses of butterflies taking flight, and trees whispering in song. Travelers far and wide search for this magical place to share in a Forest Feast of wine and decadent food created only for their visit. The wonder and mystery of Bella is forever shared with our inquisitive visitors.

Buses and Limos cannot be accommodated at this location.

Wines Available: Rosé, Zinfandel, Dessert Wine

Grab a compass and a map before sailing on over to Dry Creek Vineyard

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg / 707-433-1000

All hands on deck for the incredible wines of Dry Creek Vineyard! Navigate your way through a distinctive tasting of Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Bordeaux varietals in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. Follow the map to where ‘X’ marks the spot to find the salty Sea Dogs, nibble on delicious bites, and be among the first to sip our 2019 Petite Zin Rosé.

Wines Available: Fumé Blanc, Rosé, Zinfandel, Malbec, Meritage, Cabernet Sauvignon

Dietary Accommodations: Vegetarian and Gluten Free option(s) available

Be careful who you trust as you search for clues at Michel Schlumberger Wine Estate

4155 Wine Creek Road, Healdsburg / 707-433-7427

“The show must go on!” Transport back in time to the Moulin Rouge to solve a murder mystery! Discover our beautiful benchland wine estate overlooking Dry Creek Valley, and feast on French-style small bites paired with our Sparkling Brut, Rose, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and our famous red blend, all while searching for clues at our murder mystery themed Passport Celebration! Enjoy futures straight from the barrel, soak up the sunshine on our patio, and sip a variety of wines while trying to solve the mystery of the Murder at the Moulin Rouge! 

Wines Available: Sparkling, Rosé, Red Blend, Zinfandel Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon

Dietary Accommodations: Vegetarian option available

Grab your passport and ditch the tornado before heading to OZ at Sbragia Family Vineyards

9990 Dry Creek Road, Geyserville / 707-473-2992

Follow the yellow-brick road to the land of OZ at Sbragia. Whether you are in search of a witty Chardonnay, hearty Merlot, or Zins for liquid courage, you will find what you desire. Enjoy live entertainment while our Chef whips up some magic with wondrously paired Emerald City inspired bites. Just click your heels together three times and say, ”There’s no place like Sbragia!”

Wines Available: Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, Red Blend

Dietary Accommodations: Vegetarian and Gluten Free option(s) available

Start planning your trip today with our Itinerary Planner!

Passport guests reading the booklet and planning their next stop

You’ll get a sneak peek of all our wineries’ Passport themes.

Plus you’ll be able to save, send and curate the perfect Passport weekend!




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(or click here to check-out directly through Eventbrite)

Return to the main Passport page.



Check out Dry Creek’s newest tasting room on Westside Road with spectacular vineyard views and top-rated Pinot Noirs & Zinfandels. We’re all about fun and adventure here at WALT|BACA so we’re rolling out the Red Carpet to Casino Royale. Strike a pose with our Elvis impersonator, try your hand at the Roulette Wheel, and dance to our live DJ all the while enjoying our wonderful wines artfully paired with delectable bites from The Cook & The Drummer. Special Passport discounts on our featured wines. Come play with us at WALT | BACA!

For groups larger than 12 please contact for best time.

Taste these varietals here: Rosé, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel

Vegetarian option available. 

Capo Creek Wine Cave


Come visit one of the newest tasting rooms in Dry Creek Valley and celebrate the “Windy City” in Sonoma. Enjoy a variety of Chicago themed foods prepared by chef Winemaker Mary Roy, while sipping on our premium wines and listening to Chicago Blues. Explore the gardens and wine cave while you indulge!

No buses or groups larger than 8 at this location.

Taste these varietals here: White Blend, Rosé, Red Blend, Zinfandel

Zo Wines


ZO wines is the newest farmstay and winery in Dry Creek Valley! One of their missions is to educate through interactive wine and food experiences. Enjoy award-winning wines while participating in sensory aroma workshops and expand your appreciation of wine farming. Stay. Taste. Learn. Explore.

Buses, Limos, and Groups of 8 or more cannot be accommodated at this location 

Taste these varietals here: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel 


Bella Vineyards + Wine Caves


Beyond Wonderland… A secret forest awaits. Come join a band of curious travelers as we voyage beyond wonderland into a magical world of enchantment and mystery. Follow the fireflies golden light as they lure and guide you deep into the forest, through willows boughs and gentle leaves. Watch the enchanted woodlands come alive. There will be pixies playing, an opera of musicians and mischief makers, glimpses of butterflies taking flight, and trees whispering in song. Travelers far and wide search for this magical place to share in a Forest Feast of wine and decadent food created only for their visit. The wonder and mystery of Bella is forever shared with our inquisitive visitors.

Buses and Limos cannot be accommodated at this location.

Taste these varietals here: Rosé, Zinfandel, Dessert Wine



  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.


Share your photo using #DRYCREEKVALLEY for a chance to be featured on our social media channels.


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Olive Harvest in Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley may be world-renown for its delicious wines, but the same climate and terroir that create such beautiful grapes also are the perfect bedrock for many other crops. You may notice this in the variety of products (other than wine!) that many of Dry Creek Valley tasting rooms offer from day-to-day. One crop in particular grows exceptionally well in Dry Creek Valley and has been for 100+ years – and that is olives! You’ll find a wide diversity of trees such as Tuscan, Spanish and Greek covering acres across the Valley.

1_olive harvest in dry creek valley

The olive harvest in Dry Creek Valley typically begins directly following the grape harvest. Wineries who have olive trees get no rest until December – if they’re lucky! Wineries harvest these olives and use them to craft high quality olive oils only found locally.

The 2016 Olive Harvest in Dry Creek Valley was overall reported to be lighter than previous years due to drought like climate. But olives are an alternating-bearing crop so comparing to your previous harvest isn’t always an accurate tool to measure by. Here’s a wrap on harvest information from some of our most famous olive oil producers and our newest!

Comstock Wines

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Tracy and Saul Harvesting Olives at Comstock Wines!

The newest winery to the olive oil game is Comstock Wines. This is their first olive harvest in Dry Creek Valley! On their Dry Creek Valley estate, they have over 100 olive trees, mostly the Greek olive variety, Koroneiki, and Spanish variety, Arbequina. The Comstock team was able to harvest all 100 trees in just one day. Hospitality Director, Tracy Bidia said that it was a “fun team building day!” Visit the tasting room in the beginning of 2017 to try their olive oil first!


DaVero Farms & Winery

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The Crew Hard at Work Harvesting Olives at DaVero.

DaVero harvests 22 acres of olives on their estate and 5 acres from neighboring property at their Westside property. These olive trees were planted back in 1990 from cuttings that were imported directly from a Tuscan farm. This ancient olive grove is home to olive trees that are over 800 years old!  Olive trees take 25 years to reach full harvest, so DaVero’s trees are in their prime. In 2016 the olive harvest in Dry Creek Valley began for DaVero on October 14th but due to conflicting labor schedules, several rain delays, they are just finishing this week with a sigh of relief. DaVero olive oil is never better than when it is freshly pressed – so be sure to stop by soon to sample some of their acclaimed Olio Nuovo for a real treat.


Martorana Family Winery

4 olive harvest in dry creek valley

The Annual Olive Oil Winemaker Dinner at Martorana was a Tasty Success!

Over 340 Spanish and Italian olive trees line 35 acres of vineyards at Martorana Family Winery’s organic estate. These trees were planted by Tony Martorana back in the early 80s. All of these olives go into their exclusive Olio di Gio olive oil, named after their winemaker/owner Gio Martorana. Gio actually began making olive oil first in his career before deciding to become a winemaker. As a celebration of the new olive harvest, Martorana hosts an Olive Oil Winemaker Dinner each November and gives their members the chance to watch Gio press the harvested olives and taste the freshly pressed oil before a 5-course dinner curated around the current pressing of Olio di Gio – talk about an amazing meal!


A. Rafanelli Winery

5 olive harvest in dry creek valley

Ready for Pressing at Rafanelli

Since 2006 Rafanelli has planted over 1,600 olive trees located at the winery estate and more located on both north and south of the winery.  These groves have both Spanish and Italians varieties planted consisting of Leccino, Frantoi, Pendolino.  Much like Rafanelli’s Zinfandel grapes, there is a high standard for their olives! The trees are hand harvested every year, the olives cold pressed and then the oil is bottled to sell at the winery. This estate extra virgin oil is delicious for dipping, cooking and finishing dishes with. Currently the 2016 olive oil is settling – you’ll have to wait until 2017 to taste.


Trattore Farms

7 olive harvest in dry creek valley

Possibly the most recognized label of olive oil comes from Trattore Farms under the Dry Creek Olive Company label. All around Sonoma County you’ll see these olive oils on shelves and on menus. This year Trattore harvested from their 150+ year old trees for a very special olive oil soon to make its debut. Trattore houses nearly 5 acres of estate fruit and their very own custom olive mill that incorporates both tradition and modern olive oil making styles. Trattore opens its mills to the olive growing community during the olive harvest season during their Community Milling dates. In 2016, olive growers turned out in numbers for a chance to create community olive oil despite the pouring rain.

9951 olive harvest in dry creek valley

Any time of year you can visit Trattore for an in depth lesson and tasting through their olive oils. They even offer perfect variety packs if you can’t choose your favorite!


Which Dry Creek Valley olive oil is your favorite? Let us know by tagging us  for a chance to be featured on our pages.


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Thanks to all of our wineries for sharing about their 2016 Olive Harvest in Dry Creek Valley!
Tracy Bidia at Comstock Wines / Colleen McGlynn at DaVero Farms & Winery / Andreanna DeForest & Gio Martorana at Martorana Family Winery / Shelly Rafanelli at A. Rafanelli Winery / Mary Louise Bucher at Trattore Farms

Celebrating Italian-American Culture Month

 “I am an Italian American. My roots are deep in an ancient soil, drenched by the Mediterranean sun, and watered by pure streams from snowcapped mountains. I am enriched by thousands of years of culture. My hands are those of the mason, the artist, the man of the soil.” – Angelo Bianchi, Esq., 1982

October celebrates many things: an end to winegrowers harvest season, a shift to cooler temperatures and the first rains of the season. It kicks off the holiday season with Halloween and Dia De Muertos. But we’re also celebrating Italian American Culture Month. Here in Dry Creek Valley, many wineries and families are rooted in Italian culture. You can notice it simply in the winery names as your drive through – Passalacqua, Forchini, Rafanelli, Teldeschi, Pedroncelli, Seghesio…the list continues.

We’ve found one of the most meaningful ways to celebrate not only Italian-American culture but all cultures is to make certain the stories of our families and their traditions are kept alive. Passing these stories along to our readers ensures a continuing legacy and is just one facet to maintain the rich history and stories you’ll find in Dry Creek Valley. We reached out to a couple of these family owned wineries for Italian American Culture Month to ask them about simple stories of family, food and wine. We present them to you in their own words:

Jim Forchini – Forchini Vineyards & Winery


“My full name is James Franklin Forchini; I am a second generation Italian born in 1938 in Bakersfield, CA. I was named after my paternal grandfather Giacomo Forchini and former president Franklin Roosevelt.  My maternal grandparents were Pietro Bernacchi and Artemia Barggetini who both came from Tuscany in the region of Luca.  My paternal grandparents were Giacomo Forchini and Severina DiGiorgis who came from the regions of Piedmonte & Lombardy in northern Italy. They immigrated to the US in the early 1900s in search for a better life & opportunity.

ia-forchini-bBoth of my grandparents made family wines in Italy & CA.  Our family was centered in Bakersfield where my father was from a family of 8 and my mother from a family of 5.  My father came north during WW2 and was a welder at Mare Island Naval Shipyards then worked in a Ford dealership after the war and later owed a service station in the Bay Area.  Working for my father in the gas station on cars led me to a degree in mechanical engineering and my first career.  I spent however a lot of time with my maternal grandfather as a young boy during the summers and he was a major influence in my second career as a winegrower & winemaker.

Our family daily meals growing up were simple Italian cuisine with dishes of pasta, polenta, risotto, meats, vegetables, fish, salads & soups. For the Holidays we would assemble as many relatives as possible and prepare fancier Italian cuisine featuring handmade ravioli, gnocchi, prime rib roasts, various antipasti & seafood salads.  Wine was always on the table but nothing fancy.  They were dry red & white table wines either homemade or wines purchased in gallon jugs even on the Holidays.  Food was always prepared by the women in the family but the men would BBQ the meats when served.

ia-forchini-cI discovered premium wines after transferring jobs from Southern California to Northern California in 1963.   The 1st premium wines I purchased were from Sebastiani and Pedroncelli.

I made my 1st homemade wine in 1969 with friends using grapes from a vineyard owned by one of my friend’s father.  My amateur winemaking interest continued to grow that led me to purchase an old vineyard in 1971. In 1976  after 15 years of engineering I started a 2nd career as a winegrower.  In 1996 I built our winery and became a commercial winemaker.   I am grateful to my Italian heritage and family genes for the values and work ethics taught me that led to my 2nd career as a winemaker.”

Forchini Vineyards & Winery, 5141 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg.


Julie Pedroncelli St. John – Pedroncelli Winery

ia-pedroncelli-1My full name is, “Julie Renee Pedroncelli St. John; I was named after my mom’s best friend Juliette. My grandmother’s name was Julia so I like to think it was a blend of the two; no not until later in high school and college when it was JP or Jules.



I grew up in the house my dad and his family grew up in since 1927. My grandparents came here and bought acreage (25 acres of vineyard), a defunct winery (prohibition) and a home-which we now call World Headquarters for Pedroncelli Winery Inc. The family home became our offices in the early 1980s, my office is actually my old bedroom I shared with my sister Joanna. Happily I don’t have to share it with anyone now.


4-family-bbq-late40s-to-50s[Dinners] usually included a grandparent or two and depending on the time of year also included garden fresh vegetables and fruit. Weeknights we always sat down to dinner together. Sundays were reserved for the bigger family dinners with aunts and uncles. My mom did the cooking-unless it was a BBQ then my dad grilled. Holidays were different because they always included special and delicious foods like homemade ravioli, risotto or polenta. There were many huge feasts usually alfresco during the summertime in the 1950s (before I was born) but when my grandparents retired in the mid-1960s these turned into smaller family dinners.

Recently we have revived those Sunday afternoon meals with family down on our Dry Creek property-those who can make it come and bring a favorite dish and there’s always something tasty on the grill.”

Pedroncelli Winery, 1220 Canyon Rd, Geyserville, CA.

How are you celebrating Italian American Culture Month? Share with us on our social channels using #drycreekvalley or by tagging us at:

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Dry Creek Valley is celebrated for being home to wineries that are family owned and have rich history just like Jim Forchini & Julie Pedroncelli. Plan your own Italian American Culture Month tour on our winery page.

Many thanks to Jim & Julie for sharing their stories with us for this blog!

Harvest 2016 – A Photo Essay

Harvest 2016 is in full swing in Dry Creek Valley – we’ve seen everything from chardonnay to petite sirah starting to come in. Here in Sonoma County we’ve been seeing consistently cool mornings where the fog lingers until afternoon. While cool weather is a nice break for the vineyard laborers, it definitely slows down the sugar development in the grapes. Even though Dry Creek Valley is only 16 miles long, location and microclimate means that grapes ripen at different rates. Whether you’re in the north end of the valley (where it’s typically warmer) or in the south can make all the difference!

For more detailed information about Dry Creek Valley’s harvest, check out our 2016 Harvest page.

For this year’s photo essay, we took to Instagram for inspiration by searching #drycreekvalley & #scharvest.

Follow us for daily updates from your favorite Dry Creek Valley Wineries:

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Michel-Schlumberger starts juicing their top grapes to produce 2016 Platinum Chardonnay


zinfandel-comstock harvest 2016

Comstock Wines brings in their Estate Zinfandel


ripe-pedroncelli harvest 2016

Looks like grapes aren’t the only thing ripe! Tasty Lemon Cucumbers have arrived at Pedroncelli Winery



Look at the gorgeous color on Mill Creek Winery’s future double gold winning Gewurtztraminer


 zinfandel-mauritson harvest 2016

Mauritson Wines is in full harvest mode – excited to share with you this 2016 vintage


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First Fruit by the Truckloads for Peterson Winery’s Zinfandel


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Mounts Winery bringing in Roussanne for their Verah label


sauv-blanc-dry-creek-vineyard harvest 2016

The last of Dry Creek Vineyard’s 2016 Sauvignon Blanc has been harvested

For predictions about this knockout vintage and more on Dry Creek Valley’s harvest, check out our 2016 Harvest page.

Updates are coming daily from your favorite Dry Creek Valley Wineries – make sure you stay in the know:

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Use the hashtags #drycreekvalley & #scharvest when searching for the latest Harvest 2016 news!

Photo Credits to These Awesome Instagram Accounts:
@brtny_elyse / @m_schlumberger / @supercallafrajalistick / @Peterson_Winery /
@PedroncelliWine / @ComstockWines / @mountswinery / @drycreekvineyard

Veraison – The Final Haul to Harvest

Veraison: the onset of ripening and the change of color of the grape berries. The term is originally French (véraison), but has been adopted into English use.

Combo 2

We’ve reached a beautiful turning point here in Dry Creek Valley – veraison. With this change in color, eager winegrowers and winemakers can see the culmination of the previous 9-months transform into the 2016 vintage. Excited to sneak a peek, we asked our vineyard members, Bob & Joyce Littell of Treborce Vineyards if we could come learn more about the process. Treborce Vineyards is home to beautiful gardens, 2 German Shorthaired Pointers (Woody & Dee Dee) and acres of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah that are used in many highly regarded and award winning wines in the industry. To learn more about Treborce Vineyards, you can visit our past interview with them from 2014.

On the tour Bob Littell first stops in his Petite Sirah vineyard, which boasts nearly purple bunches. In comparison to his Zinfandel grapes, they are further ahead in this transformation. More typically, Sauvignon Blanc is the first to greet veraison and the first to be harvested, while Zinfandel takes more time on the vine to develop its rich and deep flavors. In this case, Petite Sirah falls somewhere in the middle.


Interesting to note though is that some of Littell’s Zinfandel vines, in the same block, for that matter, aren’t all at the same veraison point yet. Some vines are 12% changing and others are well over 75%. There are many factors that contribute to this and growers like Littell go through many tests to see what the vines may be lacking or getting too much of and how to adjust accordingly. Vines seem to have their own unique personality just like the growers and winemakers of Dry Creek Valley.

Veraison doesn’t just affect the color of the grapes, but also the texture and taste. The grapes will get juicier and more voluptuous. And the fruit will get sweeter and more complex. In the vineyard we sampled some grapes, still sour but getting closer to world class wines and worlds different from the green grapes yet to begin the veraison process.


Littell hopes for a more bountiful harvest this year than last which was about 30% lower than average. The increase in rain was great for vine growth. The 2016 Vintage has so far been a great growing year and has many winemaker’s mouths watering with anticipation. And the winegrowers are gearing up for harvest just around the corner. You can find Treborce Vineyard grapes in many recognized Dry Creek Valley labels such as Wilson Winery and Mauritson Family Vineyards.

Stay tuned. Our next stop – harvest!

Thanks and gratitude to Bob and Joyce Littell for welcoming us into their vineyards and for always being  a wealth of knowledge on all things wine and Dry Creek Valley.