Visit California wine country: Sweet wines in Sonoma County at Family Wineries of Dry Creek

(Last Updated On: 08/05/2012)

Family Wineries of Dry CreekI recently had a friend visit Sonoma County who just isn’t a fan of dry wines. Unsuccessfully exhausting all conversion tactics, I hunted down a few wineries who have a great dessert wine. But they were spread out all over the County. And who has time to drive to all those places for just one wine? So I dug a little deeper and found a veritable hive of the sweetest wines Sonoma County has to offer: Family Wineries of Dry Creek.

Off the picturesque main road which winds through Dry Creek Valley in northern Sonoma County, you can miss the turn pretty easily if you’re not watching (or already tipsy). But climb the hill to this compound of small, family-owned wineries and you’ll think you’ve arrived at a place undiscovered by the crowds. It largely is.

Family Wineries of Dry Creek is a co-op tasting room, manned by a shared staff since small wineries rarely have the cash, the time or the facilities to be open to the public at their respective wineries. One of the coolest parts of this tasting room — and the other tasting locations around this wine village of sorts — is that the owner often pours the wines, especially on the weekends. Not someone hired to pass on the passion; the person who makes the passion. Although tasting room employees often do a commendable job at educating, the owner is a tough act to imitate. The days I was there Philip Staley poured his namesake wines and I swooned over his impeccably crafted Grenache. In fact, just thinking about it makes me happy. We bought two bottles.

I need to say that there are PLENTY of dry wines available as well. In addition to Philip Staley Vineyards and Winery, Dashe Cellars, Forth Vineyards, Collier Falls, Ca’ Bella by Lago di Merlo Vineyards and Mietz Cellars also have their wines open for tasting and purchase. The Family Wineries of Dry Creek $5 tasting fee gains you access to six different (dry or sweet) wines and you can customize your tasting from the approximately 25 wines that are open. Selection varies depending on what the winery decides to open that day, making it an adventure every time you visit.

Dashe 2008 ZinfandelBut here’s the best thing for those escaping the vast sweet wine desert: there are eight dessert wines to choose from, both white and red. These super high-quality wines range from a lightly sweet Moscato to chocolate port to a late harvest red Zinfandel. Guaranteed to quench the thirst that nags you.

Other recommended wines at Family Wineries of Dry Creek:

– Dashe Cellars Riesling
– Forth Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc
– Dashe Cellars Zinfandels (plural – they’re all great, including the late harvest Zinfandel)
– Philip Staley Grenache and Tempranillo
– Lago di Merlo Sangiovese
– Mietz Cellars Petit Verdot
– Mietz Cellars Chardonnay

Wines range in price from $14 – $45 with the majority from $20-$30. Other tasting rooms in this same compound worth exploring: Kokomo and Papapietro Perry.
Family Wineries of Dry Creek
Open Daily
4791 Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg, CA
Phone: 888.433.6555 ext 1

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