by Fred McMillin
for November 30, 1998


A Kingpin Red Zin


The Dry Creek Valley is a sparsely settled offshoot of the Russian River drainage. During the 1980's it emerged as one of the most intriguing wine districts in Sonoma County. Nowhere else in California does Zinfandel grow nearly so well.

...The Oxford Companion To Wine, J. Robinson

Better than anywhere else in California, the Dry Creek benchlands coax out of Zinfandel the arrestingly tart, untamed flavors of blackberries...Zinfandel is THE grape of the warm valley, where it is regarded as close to holy.

...The Wine Atlas of California, Bob Thompson

Gary Farrell, Los Angeles Times Winemaker of the Year, "is one of the most talented winemakers in California."

Gary Farrell
Wine Whiz—Gary Farrell

...Wine Regions of America, Prof. John Baxevanis

The Rest of the Story

So what happens if you turn Gary loose on top-notch grapes from the Dry Creek Valley? You get one of the five best Zinfandels we've tasted this year. Here it is.

The Wine

1995 Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Grist Ranch
Gary Farrell Wines
Owner—Gary Farrell
Winemaker—We'll let you guess.
Scott's Panel Rating—EXCELLENT
Food Selections—See the Zinfandel Cookbook, by Jan Nix and Margaret Smith, Only $15. Phone (800) 600-9086, FAX (650) 851-5579. Two of my choices with this wine are:
a) Moroccan Lamb Shanks and
b) Berry-browned Game Hens.
Price of Wine—$24 range


For those interested is vineyard soils, the 16-mile-long Dry Creek Valley is separated from the adjoining Alexander Valley by an elevated benchland. The uplands are composed of a gravelly material called Dry Creek Conglomerate, found nowhere else in Sonoma County. with plenty of minerals and good drainage, it's a soil any vine would love.


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.



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