Sonoma
: Dry Creek Valley and Rockpile AVAs

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

For years a sparsely settled tributary of the Russian River drainage, Dry Creek Valley has emerged as one of Sonoma county’s most intriguing appellations. Among white varieties, Sauvignon Blanc stands head and shoulders above Chardonnay, although smatterings of Viognier and Italian white varieties, including Arneis and Fiano, are grown. Among reds, the race is more even between Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The sad thing, from the point of view of Zinfandel fanciers, is that nowhere else is that grape nearly so voluptuous, while Cabernet does at least as well and perhaps better in several other zones in California. Still, until the mid 1990s, economic considerations favoured Cabernet to a degree that no farmer could ignore, and plantings shifted accordingly. Since 1995, however, (red) Zinfandel has been resurgent and an undersupply has made these highly regarded vineyards tantalizing to second careerist refugees from San Francisco as well as local farmers wanting to diversify their crops and to cash in on the wine bonanza. Vines aged 35 to 100-plus years, on phylloxera-resistant St George rootstock, produce Dry Creek’s most acclaimed Zinfandels, with Petite Sirah and sometimes Carignane joining the blend.