Up the road from where I live in California is a winery that continues to impress, vintage after vintage: Dry Creek Vineyard. I did a search on my website and I’ve written about them seven times in the past eight years. That’s a lot, considering the number of wineries on this earth I could be writing about. But I keep going back to them simply because their value remains outstanding.
Family-owned and -operated, Dry Creek Vineyard was founded in 1972. Founder David Stare bravely hung his hat on California Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc — a not-so-glamorous grape originally from the Loire Valley (more about Chenin Blanc) — early on and embraced both grape varieties with a burly bear hug. At the time, other wineries in the area looked at him kinda funny but he soldiered on. David, a graduate of MIT, worked for railroads before he founded the winery in Dry Creek — where the winery stand today was nothing but plum (or “prunes”) orchards. Forty-two years later, the family owns 185 acres of grapevines and his daughter, Kim, heads up the company as President.
Their two most recent white wine releases, 2013 Dry Creek Vineyards Dry Chenin Blanc (emblazoned with “Dry” since many French Chenin Blancs have an underlying sweetness) and 2013 Dry Creek Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, are obscenely affordable for the quality. The medium-bodied Chenin, with a $12 retail price, has crisp, invigorating acidity and layers of red apple, pear, citrus and herby chamomile flavors. The stony minerality is also quite remarkable in a wine of this price point. Since they ferment in stainless steel and use no oak during production, the true characteristics of this versatile grape thankfully aren’t masked. Very food-friendly, pair with fresh goat cheese, Asian food, Crispy Mahi Mahi with Lemon Dill Sauce or Brown Rice Salad.
Side note: I recently went by the Dry Creek Vineyard tasting room for a game of bocce ball and went home with half case of this wine.
The 2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, a light-bodied sipper weighing in at $18 retail, is quite different than the Chenin. As it should be. Classic SB flavors of grapefruit, lime rind and lemon offer up salavacious acidity and thirst-quenching ability. Sports a hint of melon. They also offer a Fumé Blanc, but it didn’t sing as well as the SB. Pair the Sauvignon Blanc with fresh goat cheese (’cause chèvre goes with everything bracing), grilled fish with a lemon-butter sauce, Lemon Herb Chicken, or Shrimp with Fennel.
Whether enjoying on the patio or paired with food, these two wines and this winery will rarely disappoint.