Dry Creek Valley
Dry Creek Valley is located in north central Sonoma County, about an hour's drive north of San Francisco; the town of Healdsburg is situated near the southern reaches of this valley. The wine zone is more of less a west to east trail that follows Dry Creek, ending up at Healdsburg; the topography is 16 miles long by two miles wide. This is a slightly warm climate, with moderating fog as well as breezes from the Pacific Ocean, some twenty miles to the west. There are 9000 acres of vineyards, with Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc being the principal Varieties, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Syrah and Barbera.

It is Zinfandel that is the signature wine of Dry Creek Valley, especially wines made from vines that are more than one hundred years old. IN fact, Dry Creek Valley has more old vine plantings of Zinfandel (more than 25 years old) than anywhere else in California. These wines have a great deal of red and black spice, along with a peppery quality; some are even a bit rustic, akin to some traditional Italian wines. Alcohols are between 15% and 17% and these wines often age surprisingly well, as long as twelve to twenty years after the harvest.

Sauvignon Blanc, labeled by some local producers as Fumé Blanc, is the top white wine from this zone. There are many similarities to the Loire style of Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé) with these Dry Creek wines, as the wines have subtle grassy, herbal notes along with tangy acidity (like a Pouilly-Fumé, these wines are great with goat cheese!).

Quality is very high for Dry Creek Valley wines as a rule. Look for prices in the $15-$25 range for Sauvignon Blancs and $16-$25 for classic Zinfandels, while some special old vine release may cost as much as $40 or so a bottle; the wines are worth every penny. (Wine/Appellations)