Recap Of Passport To Dry Creek Valley 2013 – Day Two

Note: If you’re just checking in, you might want to check out the first post in this two-part series of my experience at Passport To Dry Creek Valley. My wife and I and couple of friends attended the 24th Annual Passport To Dry Creek Valley held April 27th and 28th.

Dry Creek Valley Wineries - Image courtesy of Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley Wineries – Image courtesy of Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley is a premium wine region in Sonoma County, California. It’s renown for its Zinfandel, but Dry Creek Valley, which is only  sixteen miles long by two miles wide offers a diverse range of vineyards, and world-class wines. The theme for this year’s event was “A Modern Tradition with Century-Old Roots I’ve been to beaucoup wine events, but what make this event special for me is the combination of wine, food, and entertainment. Check out the list of 52 participating wineries, and activities. With an event like this with wine, food pairing, and entertainment, I think it’s best to take one’s time, and enjoy it. It’s about quality rather than quality for me! As far as which wineries to visit, we have a list of perennial favorites (Bella, Mauritson, Quivira, Ridge, and Seghesio) to which we mix in some wineries that are new to us, and leave some room for “audibles” – on the fly changes to the itinerary based on a whim and/or the feedback we get from other attendees.

An Italian Family Tradition in Dry Creek Valley

Our first stop, A.Rafanelli Winery, wasn’t on our list.  It was an “audible” based on feedback from other #DCVPassporters we met at our hotel.  They told us we “had” to check it out because, it’s not usually open to the public, the food and wines were great, as was the entertainment, a trio singing traditional Italian songs. It sounded good, and we’d never been to Rafanelli before. ARafanelli Sign We arrived 15 minutes early and saw “The Line”…Apparently Rafanelli is a popular destination!  I had my doubts whether it would be worth the wait… ARafanelli Line To Rafanelli’s credit, there were a couple of gentlemen who came out and were pouring their estate 2011 Zinfandel and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon for the folks in line… Then there was this beautiful ’47 Packard to check out, and there was a trio singing Italian songs, so the wait (about 45 minutes) was bearable… ARafanelli Packard Once we did get inside though…let’s just say the menu was extensive.. ARafanelli menu No way you leave Rafanelli hungry, unless you choose too!  And of course, there was plenty more of their Zinfandel and Cab to be had (the Cabernet, though young was my favorite). Yeah…it was worth the wait!  And Rafanelli just might make the perennial list too!

Time to hit some perennial favorites!

A True Vineyard Farm

Our next stop was Quivira Vineyards and Winery, just up the road from Rafanelli.  It’s on our perennial list, in part, because they make one of my favorite Rosés, and it’s  a chance to pick up a few bottles, But we also look forward to their other wines, they serve great food, and we like the vibe of the place. quivira sign There’s always some cool stuff to check out. You can stroll in the gardens… Quivira garden …or check out the chickens when you’re there.  And for this year’s Passport, there was a Provençal Market theme with artisan goods for sale (we picked up some honey). We tasted five wines.  My favorite was the 2010 Mourvédre, which was excellently paired with a Porcini Mushroom Royale! Quirvira Mouvedr Pairing

 140 Years of Farming In Dry Creek Valley, and Nom, Noms Galore

Next up was Mauritson Family Winery. Great wine and food provided by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg. Full stop. Mauritson Passport DCV sign Hmmm…where do we begin this leg of our journey? mauritson diver scallops sign With a white of course! Main Lobster and Diver Scallop?…yes, please!

Smoked Duck Tacos.  They were paired with 2011 Charlie Clay Pinot Noir

Smoked Duck Tacos. They were paired with 2011 Charlie Clay Pinot Noir

Smoked duck tacos and Pinot…you had me at Smoked Duck… Mauritson RockpileAnd yes, you also had me at “Rockpile”!  My favorite wine was the 2011 Mauritson Rockpile Zinfandel!

Iconic Vines and Wines

Last, but certainly not least, of the perennial favorites for the day was Ridge Vineyards. Since it was our fourth winery, we decided to slow it down, and relax a bit.  Ridge was the perfect place to do it!   We sat on the shaded patio, and sipped their superb wines, and took in the view. The wines, the view..it was one of those all too rare moments when… Ridge patio view to vineyards Oh, did I mention the Sonoma Duck Mole with Corn Spoon Bread, and Spring Onion Pico? Ridge smoked duck moleWe tasted five wines at Ridge.  It came down to either the 2011 Geyersville or the 2008 Lytton Estate Syrah as my favorite.  So, was the Geyserville or the Lytton Estate Syrah my favorite?  Yes!

“One-Stop Shopping”

Buoyed after our break at Ridge, we decided to visit four wineries located in the Timber Crest Collective adjacent to the Family Wineries Dry Creek Co-op Tasting Room - Amphora, Peterson, Kokomo, and Papaprieto-Perry.

Amphora Winery

For owner and winemaker Rick Hutchinson art, wine, and life are inextricably interwoven. He’s worked in the wine business in Sonoma for 20+ years.  The winery is named after clay jars used by ancient Greeks and Romans to store.

Amphora was tasting four paired with food from Saltwater, plus four additional wines.  Since I was the driver, I tasted four of the wines. My favorite was the 2007 Sangiovese Dry Creek Valley, and it was a great pairing was with Chicken Live Pate on a toasted baguette.

Peterson Winery

Father/son team of Fred and Jamie Peterson are the proprietors this eponymous winery, which is housed in the “Big Red Barn”. The winery celebrated 25 years in business last year!

They had a nice line up of six wines, including a very nice and refreshing Rosé. And there was plenty of Mexican food on hand! My favorite wine was their 2010 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel.  It paired so well with the Mexican food!

Kokomo Winery

Kokomo Wines is proudly named after Owner/winemaker’s Erik’s Miller’s hometown of Kokomo, Indiana.  When we arrived…

kokomo winery

The band had it goin’ on!…

Band at Kokomo

Rovetti & Meatballs featuring Hilary Williams

They were pouring their great Rosé, and five other wines on the Patio, in the Cellar and at the Bar.  It was a nice mix of wines too, the aforementioned Rosé, a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Four of the wines were wonderfully paired with a likewise diverse sample of foods from K. King Catering.

Kokomo got my prize for “most unusual food pairing that worked”…Mini corn dog muffins with Chardonnay Mustard…

Mini Corn Dog Muffins with Chardonnay mustard

Mini Corn Dog Muffins with Chardonnay mustard

They were paired with their 2010 Primitivo, Timber Crest Vineyard. It was a toss-up between their excellent 2012 Grenache Rosé, and the Primitivo as my favorite.

Papapietro-Perry Winery

Founded in 1998, Papapietro-Perry (“P-P”) is a boutique winery focused on Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Ben Papapietro and Bruce Perry met in the newspaper business, made premium garage wine for some time before going commercial starting with 75 cases of wine.

Check out this beauty…Papaprieto Car

Papapietro had a “Celebration of New Orleans” theme.  The offered four different Pinot Noirs paired with “Big Easy Bread Pudding with Andouille Sausage and Gravy” from Park Avenue Catering.  But my favorite wine was their 2009 Pinot Noir ~ Pommard Clones ~ Russian River Valley, an off-list wine, but all their Pinots were fabulous! If Pinot Noir is your wine of choice, P-P is a must visit!

Adventurer, Cyclist, Educator

Our final stop for the day was Dutcher Crossing Vineyards and Winery.  It’s a small winery owned by Debra Mathy.  She was an educator by training, but had dreamed of owning a winery since she went on a trip to Europe in high school.  In 2007, motivated by her father, and after a long search, she instantly fell for Dutcher Crossingin Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley.

The food and wine pairing menu for Passport included Sauvignon Blanc (paired with Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Chévre – Killer!), their excellent Stuhlmuller Chardonnay, a Zinfandel, Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and a couple of barrel samples (2012 Mabaroshi Vineyard Pinot, and 2012 Maple Vineyard “Bills Block” Zinfandel”) They also had a Port-style dessert wine.

Dutcher Crossing winemaker

Dutcher Crossing Winemaker – Kerry Damskey

Since it was our last visit of the day, and it’s such a beautiful property we took some time to take in the gorgeous serenity of the place while we savored their wine and food pairings. Dutcher Crossing View 2 My favorites were the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, and the 2010 Proprietors’s Reserve Cab, which was excellently paired with Shredded Lamb Tacos!

Conclusion

We visited sixteen wineries over the two days.  There was plenty of outstanding wine, food and entertainment!  As I reminisce about our experience was strikes me most is the diversity of wines that was my favorite. While Dry Creek Valley has seemingly built its reputation on Zinfandel, the wineries of Dry Creek Valley offer so much more for wine lovers!  

Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be back again next year!

Related posts you might enjoy:

For more information about the Passport to Dry Creek Valley check out the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley 

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Highlights from my first Passport to Dry Creek Valley

It was a beautiful wine, food, and fun-filled weekend for the 22nd Annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley (“Passport”) with fabulous weather (in fact we were told by Jack Florence of Florence Ranch, who has been growing Dry Creek Valley for 35 years, that it has never rained Passport weekend)! 

As expected, our original plan to go to ten wineries over Saturday and Sunday ( Amista,  Mauritson, Mazzocco, Michel-Schlumberger, Ridge, Alderbrook Frick, Mounts, Seghesio, Unti) morphed into visiting 15 of the 46 wineries ( we also went to Dutcher Crossing, Bella Vineyard and Wine Caves, Armida, Dry Creek Vineyards, and Quivira).  I tasted 75 wines over the two days, the vast majority of which were very good to excellent, had some great food, and enjoyed the entertainment offered.  My Top 10 most memorable of the wines were:

Ginormous corkscrew at Bella

Reds:

2005 Ridge Grenache (88% Grenache, 6% Petite Sirah, 6% Zinfandel) - Aromas: Dusty cherries; Palate: cherries, spice.  Balanced with a medium finish – 88pts

2007 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel (71% Zinfandel, 22% Petite Sirah, and 7% Carignane) – Aromas: Wonderful aromatics of dark fruit, spice, vanilla and a bit of pepper;  Palate: Blackberries and raspberries with good balance, and long finish – 91 pts

2008 Quivira MourvèdreAromas: Plums, blackberries cloves, and touch bacon Palate: Plums, blackberries, vanilla and cloves w/medium finish – 88 pts

2008 Quivira Elusive (34% Syrah, 32% Grenache, 28% Mourvedre, 6% Petite Sirah) – Aromas: Dark fruit and black cherries  Palate:  Dark fruit and strawberries, with good balance and finish- 89 pts

2007 Seghesio Home Ranch Petite Sirah;  Aromas: Spicy blueberries, and a bit of oak Palate: black raspberries, vanilla, and mineral. Fine-grained tannins provide that little bit of “grip” I like. Fruity, but not overly so. Young, but tasty! – 88 pts

2oo8 Seghesio San Lorenzo Zinfandel (84% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignane, 1% Alicante and 1% Grand Noir); Aromas: Dark fruit, spice Palate: blackberries, cocoa, and spice. Good balance with a lengthy finish. Paired with Seafood Gumbo – Off the Chain!  - 90 pts

2008 Mauritson Rockpile “Buck Pasture” Red Wine (45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, 13% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot); Aromas: Cherries, black currant and vanilla;  Palate: Cherries, black currant, mocha;  surprisingly excellent paired with Chocolate Caramel Tartlets with dark chocolate shell, maldon sea salt caramel – 89 pts

Whites:

2009 Quivira Fig Tree Sauvignon Blanc (88% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Sauvignon Musque – S/S fermented); Aromas: Melon and citrus Palate: Melon, citrus and subtle fig. Good balance and a decent finishThis one wasn’t citrus-ey and grassy as were most we tasted. Very nice effort! – 87 pts

2008 Frick Grenache Blanc, Owl Hill Vineyard; Aromas: Peach and stone fruit, Palate: Peaches with subtle vanilla flavor, great mouth feel! Superbly paired with “Green Goddess Seafood Nachos” from foodwishes.com (Click here for photos of food pairings at Frick) made with Dungeness crab, shrimp & lobster cream cheese, Green Goddess dressing on a green avocado chip! -  88 pts

2008 Dutcher Crossing Stuhlmuller Vineyard Chardonnay;  Aromas: Buttery with a touch of tropical aromas  Palate: Buttery apple and vanilla; Nice job of integrating buttery flavor and texture without oak being overwhelming – 88 pts

And that was just the wine!  As I mentioned in my previous post, Passport is about wine, food, and entertainment. Other categories of highlights for me include:

  • “Winery I could have stayed all day”;  Seghesio – hands down!  Wonderful wines, food, and best entertainment of the event for me.  It was a taste of ‘Nawlins in Cali with ample servings of Tasso Shrimp Fettuccini, Seafood Gumbo with Andouille Sausage, Cajan BBQ Ribs, and Beignets, and serving hot music laid down by Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic!  Seghesio is the reason we went to fewer wineries on Sunday, than Saturday!

Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic performing at Seghesio

  • “Put your money where you mouth is”;  We purchased wines from Quivira, Frick and Bella
  • “See you again next year”;  Seghesio, Quivira, Frick, Mauritson, and Ridge
  • “Best Wine and Food Pairings”; Frick, Mauritson, Seghesio, and Quivira
  • “Most unusual wine”; Was a good 20 year old Cab  from Michel-Schlumberger – still a bit tannic after all these years!

We had a great time and will be back next year, as they say in the South, “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise”  ;-)

In Vino Veritas!