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Copyright © 2018
Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for September 15, 2000


Winery of the Week



Pezzi King logo  
In stocking up for our Wall St. Journal Chardonnay tasting, we ran across something we'd never heard of: Pezzi King Chardonnay. At $22 it was one of the least expensive bottles, and as a newcomer, we didn't expect much from it. So we were amazed this turned out to be the clear choice as the second best wine of the tasting.

(Gaiter & Brecher, Wall St. Journal Guide To Wine)

Pezzi King? Let's go back to the beginnings, way, way back.

The PK Chronology

Millions of Years Ago—Fire and ash from exploding volcanos rain ash down on what we know today as Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California. It creates a unique red soil, particularly on the upper, western slope of the valley.

1880s—Mostly Italians are starting to plant mostly Zinfandel in the Dry Creek Valley.

1970—Former Foreign Service officer William Wheeler and his wife, Ingrid, buy a large Dry Creek tract high up on that red soil. Their new vineyard is highly successful.

1993—William and Ingrid lived in San Francisco when they made the Dry Creek purchase. Similarly, investment specialist James Rowe, and wife Jane, lived in San Francisco when they decided to buy the former Wheeler estate. They knew the property was particularly suited to growing Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Rowes and their next generation, children and spouses, all got involved in developing their new Pezzi King project. Even the older generation was recognized, since "Pezzi" and "King" are the maiden names of the two maternal grandparents.

March 19, 1998 WineDay's "A Sizzling Start"—We wrote, "Clearly, P.K. is a winery to watch." So, we did, and here's what we've seen.

Zinfandel—There is no region in the world that makes better Zin than the Dry Creek Valley, in the opinion of many experts. So, it was not a shock that the outstanding wine of P.K.'s first year turned out to be their 1994 Zin. The 1995 did even better. It won the Annual Dry Creek Zin Taste-off, held in 1997. My panel recently sniffed and sipped the Small Lot Reserve 1997 and gave it a rousing HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Cabernet Sauvignon—The first vintage, the 1994, won one critic's award to P.K. as the "Top Rookie Cab Producer of the Year." The 1995 similarly was called "stunning." In fact, Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is looking so good that some producers are concerned that it will blur the district's image as the Zinfandel leader.

The Whites—Space limits prevent much on the whites this time. Sauvignon Blanc does well in the estate environment. The Chardonnay is made from grapes brought in from cooler southern Sonoma.

Just the Facts

Pezzi King Vineyards
3225 West Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg, CA. 95448
Contact—Office of V.P. Tom Rozner, (707) 433-8785, FAX (707) 433-6838


Quick! Name the major town in the Dry Creek Valley. Answer: There isn't one.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


This page created September 2000