Adel’s Vineyard-Dry Creek Valley-Sonoma County
As you enter Dry Creek Valley from Highway 101 there is a large Italianate home on your right with the entire front yard planted in vines. This is Adel’s vineyard, tiny as vineyards go, less than ½ acre and planted with 100% Zinfandel.
Since this entire valley is carpeted with the vines that make the finest Zinfandel in the world you could miss this one. It was brought to our attention by Zuriel Bernier who is the vineyard manager and a member of the locally esteemed Bernier family of grape and produce growers and vineyard managers. The combination of Zuriel’s skill and the extraordinary fruit make this a consistently excellent wine.
Carreras Ranch-Block 2-Dry Creek Valley-Sonoma County
Joe Ramazzotti moved here in 1958 after his aunt, Linda Chioti, visited her brother and his family in Italy and persuaded them to join her in California. She had a 50 acre ranch on Dry Creek Road, no children and plenty of room for a growing family. Joe was 8 years old and that’s when he started farming.
For the last 25 years he has been managing the Carreras ranch, 25 acres of which is planted in an Italian field blend of Zinfandel, Alicante Bouchet, Petite Sirah, Napa Gamay and Chasselas Dore’. Joe’s fruit goes to some pretty prestigious wineries such as Ferrari-Carano, Wilson, Flowers, Kendall Jackson, Rodney Strong and Wine Guerrilla.
Joe talked with us about the upcoming harvest. The vines this year look extraordinary, with huge clusters of fat, deep purple fruit. Zinfandel ripens unevenly with ripe, overripe and under ripe grapes all in the same cluster. Therefore it must be picked at a precise moment when the brix are at 25. During the crush the over ripe grapes will release their sugars bringing it up to 27 which is as high as you want to go.
Paired with the grins of the growers…finally a truly bountiful harvest…you will see the crossed fingers that say ‘Pleeeeeze, 2 or 3 more weeks with no rain.’
Coffaro Vineyard-Dry Creek Valley-Sonoma County
When David Coffaro purchased this property in 1979 the ‘old vine’ vineyards did not appear to have much life left but with much time and tenacity Dave nursed them back not only to life but to vigor. He now grows an amazing 25 varieties in his 20 acre vineyard including Lagrein, Souzao & Sagrantino. We get ‘old vine’ Zin, Petite Sirah and other varieties if it’s our lucky year!
The ‘old vine’ Zinfandel is well over 100 years old. Above is a vineyard map which shows the many different blocks, varieties and rows.
Forchini Vineyards-Sheep Hill Block-Dry Creek Valley-Sonoma County
Andrew Forchini manages this 2 acre Zinfandel vineyard which straddles a sweeping hill in Dry Creek Valley. Because there are springs on this steep land it can be very hard to work in the rainy months so Andrew brought in his herd of sheep to control the weeds. The sheep are so happy here they have their lambs on site. At bud break they are relocated as grape leaves are a favorite delicacy and they would strip the vines in no time. The sheep do a very efficient job of keeping the land clean but have to be restricted to ¼ to ½ acre at a time or as Andrew says. “They get too picky about what they’ll eat”.
Forchini Vineyards ‘old vine’ -Dry Creek Valley-Sonoma County
This 100 year old vineyard has always been dry farmed producing a highly concentrated flavor in the grapes. 14 acres is devoted to a field blend of primarily head pruned Zinfandel with a smattering of Alicante Bouchet and Petite Sirah. The remaining 3 acres is planted in 100% Carignane.
We share the bounty with Amphora, Ledson, Lambert Bridge and Sutter Home.
Mounts Vineyard-Cypress Block-Dry Creek Valley-Sonoma County
Rich Mounts in his coveralls could be a cover boy for a farm magazine, with a quiet, non-slick demeanor which belies a keen intelligence for what he does. He was raised on the 140 acres which now has 85 acres planted in grapes. He went off to college with not the slightest interest in returning to the family farm which at that time was planted in prunes. There must have been a spark in there somewhere though as he majored in soil science.
In the 1960’s wine grapes were selling for $75. to $125 a ton [as opposed to starting at $2500 a ton now]. Nonetheless in 1967 he started pulling out prunes and planting grapes. I don’t know of a varietal he has not tried while searching for the best match for placement and soil type. A few of the grapes he mentioned were Cabernet, Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Malbec, Grenache Blanc, Petite Verdot along with our favorite, Zin.
It is no lucky accident that this man grows excellent fruit.
The challenges never let up, says Rich, there’s the weather, the fickle public and new diseases all the time.