Touring Sonoma Wine Country | The Daily Dish

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Touring Sonoma Wine Country

No Comments | Written on July 7, 2014 at 5:00 am , by

All week here on “The Daily Dish” I am excited to share with you a new culinary travel story every day!

For the past couple of months I have been criss-crossing the US and even the world tasting and exploring all along the way.  I can’t wait to share photos, stories and, of course, recipes from the adventures!

Today I am thrilled to share with you the experience of touring the Sonoma Wine Country, specifically Dry Creek Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley.    

Keep reading…

Dry Creek Vineyard is about 80 miles from downtown San Francisco, yet only about a 10 minute drive from Uncle’s house!  (How good is it having relatives in the Sonoma wine country?!)

In May my family traveled to the bay area to celebrate my sister’s wedding with all of our west coast relatives.  While we were there, we knew we wanted to explore the wine country a little bit as well.  On Memorial Day, my sister and her husband, my parents, my aunt and uncle and even my cousin (who just turned 21!) all packed into rental car and headed toward the stunning Dry Creek Vineyard for a tour and tasting.

We were greeted by our guide for the afternoon, Ian Eddy, the Assistant Tasting Room Manager.

He began with bit of Dry Creek Vineyard history.  This was the first new winery established in the Dry Creek Valley after Prohibition, revitalizing the region’s wine industry.

But first, of course, a glass of wine to wet our whistle as we listened to the history and toured the grounds!

We began with the 2013 Dry Chenin Blanc.  Possibly my favorite that we sampled that afternoon!  It’s crisp and refreshing, perfect for summertime sipping.  I love acidic whites with a mineral quality, so this one was right up my alley.   In fact, I paired it with a recipe at the end of this post.

Dry Creek Vineyard wine has become known as the “wine for sailors” as the winemakers have enjoyed a long love affair with the sport of sailing and have a profound appreciation of America’s nautical heritage.

They say winemaking and sailing actually have a lot in common.

“Like winemaking, sailing is fun, adventuresome and romantic. Like sailing, the art of winemaking demands the skill, discipline and determination of a group of people committed to the same goal.  Sailing and winemaking are a study in choreography and teamwork – each person contributing something essential to the ultimate success or failure of the team.”

The next stop on the tour was the barrel room, where fermentation was underway.  This is always my favorite stop on any wine tour because it is kept at a cool, comfortable temperature.   On a hot, sunny day in the valley it is a quiet respite where magic is happening.

We then headed out through the beautifully manicured gardens to the vineyard.

Of course, this meant changing gears a little bit and sipping something new!  It was time to switch to a red wine, the 2012 Heritage Vines Zinfandel.   This intense and deep red was quite appealing and impressive.  The mouthfeel is silky with layers of blueberry, all spice, red currants and blackberries.  Essentially all of my favorite flavors in one glass.

This particular wine has a unique history.  Heritage Vines Zinfandel comes from an experimental project initiated in 1982 to preserve the tradition and “heritage” of old Zinfandel vineyards. Cuttings from a pre-Prohibition era vineyard were provided for grafting onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock. Then, for several years they worked diligently to screen and propagate virus-free vines that would ultimately produce a crop. Finally, in 1997 the process concluded with a “young vine” wine that displays “old vine” Zinfandel characteristics.

Ian was incredibly thorough and knowledgeable about every aspect of the growing and winemaking process.  Here you can see my sister and her husband listening intently.

At the end of the tour Ian had graciously arranged a picturesque picnic lunch for all of us in the garden!

We arrived to a perfectly arranged table in the shade, and a basket filled with a variety of sandwiches and salads for our group.  Of course, lunchtime meant one more wine pairing.  This time a stunning 2013 Petit Zin Rose.

For me, there’s just something about a hot day, a cool breeze and a chilled glass of rose.  Every sip of this Petit Zin Rose was filled with aromas of fresh strawberry, rhubarb, and bing cherries rounded out with a subtle spicy element cinnamon and clove.  Heavenly.

As you can see, we all enjoyed every last bite of our lunch.

And, I suppose, every last sip!

The Dry Creek Vineyard Tasting Room is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.   I highly suggest a visit if you are ever exploring the Napa and Sonoma wine region.   Say “hi” to Ian for me and tell him Kristina sent you!

One of the treats in our picnic basket that afternoon was a delectable vegetable sandwich.  I couldn’t wait to get back home to try and recreate the recipe.  Enjoy this “Stuffed Veggie Sandwich with Avocado Mayonnaise” with a glass of the Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc!

Follow this link for the complete recipe –>


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