I like dirt. For as long as I have been in the wine industry, the concept of soil, sun and geography (that pesky word terroir) has fascinated me. And really, for any wine geeky person like me, why wouldn't it? How amazing is it that the very same grapes, grown right next to each other, can literally taste different! I've experienced that first hand, walking through vineyards during harvest and tasting different blocks of Zinfandel grapes. It is quite remarkable.
One of the (many) cool things about working at a family owned winery is that decisions can be made with an eye toward the future and without all that corporate winery mumbo jumbo. A prime example of this is what is going on at our iconic DCV3 estate vineyard. Planted by David Stare in 1972, this was the first vineyard planted to Sauvignon Blanc in the Dry Creek Valley. Not only is this vineyard historically relevant for our winegrowing region, we also see it as our crown jewel in our Sauvignon Blanc program. Like any vineyard, eventually it needed to be replanted. First, we let the ground lay follow for almost 5 years. Not an easy decision and not exactly profitable but completely necessary to allow the soil to naturally regenerate itself. Then, rather than plant vines that will maximize yields (and thereby ROI) the family took a decidedly different track. They planted 3 different selections of Sauvignon Blanc - Sauvignon MusquÃ©, Sauvignon Gris and Sauvignon Blanc clone #378. Is this the most economically profitable way of doing things? No. Is this really cool and going to give us the ability to work with small lots of interesting wines that we could potentially bottle exclusively for wine club members? Yes. How fun is that?
Another exciting project is the new Zinfandel vineyard planted in front of the winery. Three years ago, when this vineyard went in, I think our neighbors thought we were nuts. Who in the world plants a head pruned Zinfandel vineyard these days? Answer: Dry Creek Vineyard. Again, this is not cost effective and produces extremely small yields, but this vineyard is a throwback to a bygone era. It's just about 3.5 acres but it has 4 different clonal selections of Zinfandel all planted on St. George rootstock. This year we will receive our first crop and our winemaking team is so excited they can hardly stand it!
As the years go on and new vintages are released, I am excited about what the future holds. I'm not sure any of us know exactly what we will we get from these newly planted vineyards. But isn't that what makes wine so special? Finding that unexpected gem or new thing that keeps you learning and appreciating all that the wine industry has to offer!
Bill Smart, Director of Communications