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Dry Creek Valley
Wine making in Dry Creek Valley stretches back all the way to 1884, when a Swiss man, named Charles Dunz purchased 344 acres in the valley. He had been one of the many immigrants who came in the search of quick money during the California Gold Rush. Tiring of the struggles and pains that inevitably occurred with the rush, Dunz essentially began to make his own gold, wine. His 70,000 gallon capacity wine cellar was the biggest winery at the time.
Where there is to be found food and wine, there is to be found a food and wine critic, and one of the earliest record of wine critique of a wine from Dry Creek Valley is dated back to October 17, 1878 - “The wine produced by Bloch and Colson has finer flavor than from almost any other winery in the country. It has none of the bitter taste found in many wines (of the day).”
After those initial vineyards, it obviously became quite apparent that this area had all the essential elements for grape growing. Vineyards sprouted up all over the area and by 1883, the number of vineyards had grown to 54 which covered a total area of 883 acres.
Naturally, all this grape growing and wine making required also means to sell the wines and thus not only did people in this area make money by purchasing vineyards but also by running wineries. By 1889 there were 9 wineries in the valley.
Dry Creek Valley, at the time, produced excellent quality Zinfandel wine which was very highly regarded within California.
This area now holds the highest concentration of old Zinfandel vineyards in the world. In the early 1900’s, things were not looking good. Phylloxera, a grape pest, ran amuck and destroyed many crops. Prohibition was on the horizon. However, some were brave and risked planting abundant Zinfandel vineyards, which survived.
In the 1930’s, Dry Creek Valley lost it’s edge in the wine world. Prohibition had made it impossible for many vineyards to survive and soon the area became known foremost for it’s prune and pear production, not it’s Zinfandel. Not to be held down for long, slowly the valley increased it’s wine production, to become recognized as a American Viticultural Area in 1983.
Zinfandel still retains it’s pride in the forefront of the region’s most praised wines. Sauvignon Blanc is also very well reputed, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Syrah.