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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dry Creek Valley Passport Weekend

What is it?   

This is an annual open house of wine, food and music put on by a Dry Creek winegrowers group.  It's two days with about 50 wineries participating.   Food-wise the wood-fired pizza ovens were all the rage and that's just fine by me!
Ferrari-Carano's cellar
Wineries Visited

We were with a group of eight so we decided on visits semi-democratically.

Over the two days we stopped at Amista, Armida, David Coffaro, Dutcher Crossing, Ferrari-Carano, Lambert Bridge, Martorana, Mazzocco, Quivira, Raymond Burr, Ridge/Lytton Springs, Rued, Sbragia, Seghesio, Teldeschi, and Truett Hurst.  Yes, that's a lot.  I sampled only red wines and dumped a lot.  Trust me.

We wanted to get into Rafanelli first thing Sunday morning but it was already too busy.  That place is nuts!


Armida - The heaven and hell displays are fun if you haven't been here before during an event.  This place is party central.  I overheard one of the staff saying to another, "This year if there are women taking their shirts off this afternoon let me know!"  The 2009 Parmelee Zinfandel out of the barrel was my favorite (since there were no naked women yet).

David Coffaro - An audio/visual system not to be missed.  Highlight for me was in the parking lot--the fully restored to stock '69 Chevelle SS red convertible--gorgeous.   Loved the 2007 Block 4 red blend wine also. There's a subtlety in his wines missed or not appreciated by some people who prefer the blam! in your face knockout punch of fruit and alcohol.

Dutcher Crossing - I know the fried shrimp encrusted in coconut can't be good for you but this weekend isn't about diet anyway.

Ferrari-Carano - The gardens are always impressive making this a real destination winery.  This is the first time I've been in the cellars and this is equally impressive.   So was the 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet at $27.

Lambert Bridge - 2007 Forchini Zinfandel was great but from a vineyard with a good Italian name like Forchini how can it not?

Martorana -  A new winery from a family that's been growing grapes for others for many years.  The 2007 Dry Creek Zinfandel was the standout but all were nice wines.

Mazzocco - This is Zinfandel central as they had many single vineyard Zins to sample. They retail from about $20 to $60 -- something for everybody.  They had a Moroccan-themed party with great food.

Quivara - The grounds in front of the tasting room are full of raised beds growing vegetables and they even have a chicken coop.  The 2006 Anderson Zinfandel and 2007 Petite Sirah were standouts.

Raymond Burr - I forget about this winery for some reason but they make great Cabernets.

Rued - They went with a farm theme with hay bales, twangy music and dressed in flannel shirts and cowboy hats.  For the owner,  however, it appeared to be his everyday clothes as he's a long-time grape farmer who decided to make his own wine a few years ago.  Rued is well-known for their Sauvignon Blanc.  I loved the 2007 Zinfandel.

Seghesio - This was our last stop on Sunday and the place was hopping!  The food selection was sausage, ribs, and pizzas.  Seghesio can throw a good party like a number of others were doing this weekend but I really respect their practice of hospitality.  They really treat people well and they pay attention to the details.  Maybe it's the Italian blood in the family as you never leave hungry!

Teldeschi - They win for the best music with a semi-loud band playing everything from modern country to ZZ Top.  Their wines are what I call "old style Dry Creek" in that they are definitely not fruit-forward high-alcohol wines but need some aging and food to show their best.

Truett Hurst - Another fairly new operation with lots of fruit-forward Zinfandels with the Red Rooster Zin my favorite.

The rib tent at Seghesio
2006 vs. 2007

Several wineries had the same wines from 2006 and 2007 to compare side-by-side.   In every case I preferred the '07s.  The '06s seemed a little dull and uninteresting compared to the balanced fruit of the '07s.

2007 is probably the best year since the 2001 vintage.


Sustainable farming (and its wacky offshoot Biodynamics) is really taking off with organic farming, growing other crops, plus raising free-range chickens (we saw chickens at two wineries).   Even a lot of the table service for the food was recyclable materials rather than plastic.   Green is catching on.  "Thank you" to the farmers and owners.