by Andrew Chalk
Many readers will have visited Sonoma County in northern California wine country and sampled the Zinfandels made in the sub-region named Dry Creek Valley. The 70+ wineries there are so small (median production is only about 4750 cases) that most sell all that they make at the “cellar door” (either in a tasting room or through Internet orders). Additionally, 150 grape growers sell fruit to these winemakers and another 80+ wineries besides. This direct sales link is vital to small wineries as it vastly reduces their costs of distribution. One result, is that there are many good wines that do not make their way onto retail shelves here, or do so only at a restricted set of outlets (basically the finer wine stores in town).
To taste the gamut of Dry Creek wine making you really need to visit the area (and the ideal time is the weekend known as Passport To Dry Creek Valley each April). Notwithstanding that, sometimes the growers go out to their customers. Continue reading