Feb 27, 2020
By Laura DuPree
Mr. Winter has put his vineyards to bed for a bit, but the fruit of the vine can still be sampled in a glass at numerous local tasting rooms — no matter how cold it gets outside.
With upcoming events such as Winter WINEland, and more than 425 wineries in Sonoma County, there’s no reason for you to go dormant.
Winter WINEland, Wine Road’s annual two-day event, is scheduled for Jan. 18-19 at participating northern Sonoma County wineries. A ticket purchase covers winetasting at multiple locations. Some establishments also offer food pairings. Cost is $60 for the weekend; $45 for Sunday only, and $5 for designated drivers. For more information visit wineroad.com.
One of my favorite regions is the Dry Creek Valley, which offers a picturesque view of wine country and is dotted with some of the county’s finest Zin producers.
For example, Wilson Winery, which appears to be a medal magnet.
“At this year’s Harvest Fair — from Bronze to Double Gold — we had 69 total medal winners, and of those, two got Best-in-Class,” Assistant Tasting Room Manager Shane Tracy said, referring specifically to Wilson Winery’s wins and not counting the other 10 wineries in the Wilson Artisan Wines Group. Tracy said most of the medals were in the Zin category. That said, Best in Class went to Wilson’s 2017 Family Red blend and the 2016 Sawyer Petite Sirah.
Additional varietals available at Wilson include, Cabernet Sauvignon; Primitivo; Sauvignon Blanc; Reserve Chardonnay; a white blend made of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and French Colombard; and the latest edition - Kenneth Carl Brut, a sparkling blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with just a splash of Pinot Meunier.
“We have amazing, award-winning wines, with a laid-back atmosphere … It’s everything; the views, the wines, and our fun wine club events,” Tracy said.
“You can bring your dogs, have lunch, sit down and have a bottle on our deck and enjoy the beautiful view,” Tasting Room Associate, Josh Brown chimed in. “People have a lot of fun here.”
Wilson Winery produces about 12,000 cases a year, according to Tracy, who said the winery’s biggest market outside of California might be Texas. “Earlier this year we won top all-around winery at the Houston International Wine Competition.”
Zichichi Family Vineyard, best known for its old-vine Zin, doesn’t have any recent medals to brag about, but that’s because this boutique family-owned winery doesn’t have enough wine to spare for such competitions. In fact, by the time the wine is bottled, most of it has already been spoken for.
“We sell out of everything from our estate vineyard and we have for more than seven years in a row; the demand is greater than our supply,” Hospitality Associate Midori Longo said.
Zichichi produces just 4,500 cases annually. Of that amount, 3,500 cases of wine are made with grapes from the Home Ranch Estate vineyard. All of it is sold as “futures.” As a result, the makers of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon serve much of their wine from the barrel only. Tasters who enjoy the young wine can preorder it and then look forward to taking it home, once it’s been bottled.
“Barrel tasting is a great way for people who are passionate and interested in the wine making process,” Longo said. “You get to see behind the scenes how the wine is made, how it is aged, and you get to taste it while it’s still in the barrel.”
The remaining wine — primarily made from fruit grown in the winery’s North Block estate vineyard – is poured inside the rustic, intimate tasting room, which stands against a backdrop of grape vines and Geyser Peak mountain.
Zichichi Family Winery, located at 8626 West Dry Creek Road, is open 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily. For more information visit zichichifamilyvineyard.com or call (707) 433-4410.
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