A couple of months ago, I made another trip out West, and visited Dry Creek Valley for the second time this year. The first time around, it was all new to me–sure, I had driven through Healdsburg and Geyserville before, but I had never really experienced the Valley as a cohesive entity.
This second visit, had a different feel altogether–I was already familiar with the basic geography, had visited some of the wineries, and had met a few of the wonderful people in Dry Creek. Thus, the second go around was less about learning the unknown than supplementing the familiar. Sure, I visited a few more new (to me) wineries (Nalle, Frick, and Estate 1856), but one of the great aspects of revisiting wine regions is checking back in on some of the people whom you had previously met.
First, I met up with Ann Peterson, the Executive Director of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley. I had been invited to attend the launching of Dry Creek Valley’s Culinary Cooperative, a wonderful event for a few members of the media (it still feels weird to consider myself part of “the media” but I am trying to roll with it) to roll out the rather ingenious program. I first met Ann in New York City, of all places, and have seen her several times since. She is always engaging and ready to laugh, but also smart and focused. She is equally at ease talking wine or weather, and it is always a pleasure seeing her.
I once again stayed with Donald and Catherine Goodkin at their wonderful Bed and Breakfast, Grape House, which is right in the middle of their Cabernet and Merlot vineyards. Donald and Catherine, as I mentioned before, are magnificent hosts, with a wealth of knowledge about the Valley despite only living there for a handful of years. We went for a couple of bike rides while I was there, including a great climb up Pine Flat (although it is called “Flat” it is anything but), once again showing that for the avid cyclist/wine enthusiast, it would be hard to beat Dry Creek Valley as a destination.
Once again, I was using a rental bike from Spoke Folk Cyclery in Healdsburg. While I was riding on a Carbon Fiber Tarmac (for those of you not into cycling, it is a really cool bike—so cool, in fact, that I ended up buying one), they do offer all kinds of bikes for all kinds of riders. As a former bike shop manager, I can attest that their service department is top-notch and very impressive. As I mentioned in my previous post, Richard and Liz, the owners of the shop, are fantastic and will certainly take care of you.
On a whim, I decided to stop in to Kokomo Winery, just to say hello to Erik Miller, the part-owner and winemaker. I met Erik on my first visit, when he was one of several winemakers and growers who met me at Grape House for a tasting. I was once again accompanied by my trusty side-kick, Loie from Cheap Wine Curious, and we tasted through a few wines while we were waiting to see if Erik happened to be free. Unfortunately, for us (but great for Kokomo) they were sold out of the Rosé, which is one of the best I have had. We did get a sip of the Sauvignon Blanc, which is fantastic—unlike any Sauv Blanc I have tried recently. After a few minutes, Erik strolled in and even though I was just hoping to say “hi”, Erik took us on a tour of the winery, out to the back where they were bottling the 2013 Kokomo Grenache, and into the vineyard behind the building where we tasted some fruit and Erik walked us through how he evaluates its ripeness.
The highlight of the visit, however (other than talking about each other’s kids with Erik), was tasting the 2012 Kokomo Cabernet Sauvignon, which had been transferred to tank, and was waiting to be bottled. Erik stated that he had not been more excited about a wine that he ever produced, and that is saying something. It is not available yet, but when it is, I will likely buy a case—I am not much of a Cabernet guy, but it was really that good (I did not take any “official” notes, but I would put this well into the “Outstanding” category [think 93-96 points]).
I visited a few more old friends in the three days I was in the Valley, and I will publish those notes next week….