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Dry Creek Vineyard Late Harvest Zinfandel 1999
In 1972, when David S. Stare opened the doors to Dry Creek Vineyard, it was the first new winery to be built in the Valley since Prohibition. Dry Creek created the first Sonoma Fume Blanc, originated the Dry Creek Valley AVA, and was an early advocate for Bordeaux-style blending.
Today, Dry Creek Vineyard is committed to vineyard diversity, vinifying individual lots of fruit separately, and then blending carefully for each final cuvee. Dry Creek Vineyard is also a leader in the stewardship of pre-Prohibition Zinfandel vines and vineyards, and has isolated a clone, called the "Heritage Clone," which is bottled separately from their "Old Vines" Zinfandel (containing wine only from vines no younger than 50 years old), and which has made very promising wines.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for nearly every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa, the region only produces about half the amount of wine, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in both quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River and Sonoma Valleys, Carneros, and Fort Ross-Seaview. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
Apart from the classics, we find many regional gems of different styles.
Late harvest wines are probably the easiest to understand. Grapes are picked late so that sugars build up and residual sugar remains after the fermentation process. Ice wine, a style founded in Germany and there referred to as eiswein, is an extreme late harvest wine, produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar. It is becoming a specialty of Canada as well, where it takes on the English name of ice wine.
Vin Santo, literally “holy wine,” is a Tuscan sweet wine made from drying the local white grapes Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia in the winery and not pressing until somewhere between November and March.