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by Fred McMillin
for May 30, 2000

 

Seek the Creek


Prologue

The neighbors were up in arms. This upstart M.I.T. engineer wanted to start a winery in Dry Creek.


The Rest of the Story

Dry Creek Vineyard It all started so innocently. It had been over 50 years since anyone had built a winery in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley. Hence, land values were low (under $2,000 per acre), and David Stare's hopes were high, as he cruised the valley. Spotting a tractor in the field, the engineer-wannabe-vintner hailed the driver and asked if there was any land for sale. Was there ever! Within minutes he was talking to owner Elizabeth Howe. Within a few more minutes she was holding his check for $1,000, sealing the deal to purchase her 55-acre fruit orchard. He could see pear trees coming out and Chardonnay vines going in, BUT...


The Neighbors

The year was 1972. Roads were narrow. Life was peaceful. Who needed tourists streaming into a winery tasting room? Who wanted trucks bringing in supplies and driving away with cases of wine? However, David finally convinced his new neighbors that there might be some benefits. Was he right?


The Dry Creek Streak

David was allowed to proceed. He soon had much company. The acres of vines in the valley increased about tenfold by 1997, to 5,500. The value of bare land increased more than tenfold, topping $25,000 per acre.

Gourmet Magazine's Gerald Asher points out that David started by emphasizing Chardonnay because of the enormous demand. Good choice. I recall the 1995 made the Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of the Year. The 1997 is...


Our Wine of the Day

1997 Reserve Chardonnay, Dry Creek Vineyard
Sonoma County, California
Harvest Time—First half of September 1997
Oak—French; barrel fermented; nine months in the barrel in contact with the lees (sediment)
Tasting—My tasters liked the creamy, buttery richness. The men gave it a RECOMMENDED, while the ladies were even more enthusiastic, giving it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Price—$22 range
Contact—Mary Jo Chism, (707) 433-1000, FX(707) 433-5329


Postscript

  • There are over 100 stream beds in California named Dry Creek
  • There is only ONE winery in California named Dry Creek.

     
    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

     
     


    This page created May 2000

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