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by Fred McMillin
for October 14, 1999

 

A Big Blanc

 

Dry Creek Pioneers

October 14,1843—Exactly 156 years ago today Jose German Pina files a petition with the king of Mexico for the lands that later became the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County.

David Stare  
Early 1970's—M.I.T. civil engineer David Stare (pictured in 1974), founds the first new winery in the Dry Creek Valley since Repeal. He converts a prune orchard to vines, including 10 acres of Sauvignon Blanc, in spite of the fact that the Sonoma County Farm Advisor sternly warned that the varietal wasn't suitable for the region.

Let's see who was right.


The Rest of the Story

Here's what the experts now think of David's decision. He called his wine Fumé Blanc, and sold the first vintage for $4.25 a bottle.

James Halliday (Cal Wine Atlas)—David Stare has been described as the father of Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc (Fumé Blanc is a synonym.) He was highly successful when he introduced it in the early 1970s and in many ways has set the pace with this variety ever since.

David StareGerald Asher (Gourmet Magazine)—David Stare says that he believes his Dry Creek Vineyard's Fumé Blanc success developed the consumers' association of the Dry Creek Valley with outstanding Sauvignon Blanc. Gerald describes it as having a "particularly attractive style, with its lively aroma, ripe flavor and good balance."

So David Stare (pictured in 1997), was right. Here's his latest release.


Wine of the Day

1997 Reserve Fumé Blanc, Dry Creek Vineyard
Appellation—Dry Creek Valley
Variety—100% Sauvignon Blanc
Winemaking—Plenty of oak, both in fermentation and 10 months in storage.
Sugar—Are you kidding? This is dry.
Contact—Office of David's daughter, Kim Stare Wallace, Vice President and Director of Marketing, (707) 433-1000, FAX (707) 433-5329
Price—$15.75


Postscript

The other photo of David was taken much more recently as the winery reached its 25th anniversary. Looking back, the founder recalled that while he got the Sauvignon Blanc thing right, he missed on another... In 1974 Ernest Gallo visited the winery and David said he hoped some day to sell 20,000 cases a year. Ernest replied, "You won't be able to stop at 20,000. Believe me, we've been there." Sales are now over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND cases!

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

 
 

WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin

 

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