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Favorite Things at Timber Crest Farms

If I suggested that Timber Crest Farms might be the outlet mall of Dry Creek Valley wine country, I realize, readers may be deeply divided by the statement. Some may want to know, “How can you compare these small, family wineries to discount retail consumerism?” Others will say, “Yes, please. And how can I find this wonderful, one-stop shopping destination for limited-release wines and last-minute wine country holiday gifts?” But I expect that everyone would agree on this: At Timber Crest Farms, the journey starts at your destination.

From Dried Tomato to Olio Nuovo

Timber Crest is perched on the lip of the great swath of bench land above Dry Creek Road. It was built as a fruit processing facility, and Timber Crest found success with sun-dried tomatoes that found their way into everything from Trader Joe’s to Wolfgang Puck’s frozen pizzas. You can still find Sonoma brand sun-dried tomatoes in a gift shop here, but in the past 10 years the facility has been converted to boutique wineries, an olive oil company, and a gourmet condiment maker.

Many of the businesses at Timber Crest have the comfortable look of improvised accommodations that have been well settled into. The Dry Creek Olive Oil Company and Trattore Wines, for instance, occupy a pea-green trailer with a Farmall Cub tractor parked in the front for extra character. Originally, it might have been an extra supe’s office parked there in a season of need—who knows for sure—but it’s been tricked out with a brushed stainless steel bar and recycled wood flooring. Olive oil plus wine tasting is just $10 here, and if you can’t choose between the grassy, spicy Healdsburg Blend ($25) and the mellow Three Orchards Blend ($25), there are a variety of mini bottle samplers available in gift boxes.

On the wine side, Trattore’s 2013 “MR” Marsanne-Roussanne blend ($26) is fresh and peachy, and was approved of and chosen by my Chardonnay-drinking brother-in-law for a Christmas dinner wine. The 2011 “Tractor” Red ($25), a Zinfandel-based blend, is a poster wine for the Dry Creek Valley—warm brambleberry fruit and grippy tannins. Stay tuned for Trattore’s new winery and tasting room, which ought to be grand—word is, they had to spend $2 million on driveway alone.

Cup o’ Plenty of Wineries

Family Wineries of Dry Creek Valley is a coop tasting room housed in a freestanding building shared by six small wineries, currently including: Collier Falls Vineyards, Dashe Cellars, Forth Vineyards, Lago di Merlo Vineyards and Winery and Vineyards, Mietz Cellars and Philip Staley Vineyards and Winery. Come for the wines, stay for the tchotchkes: I’m kicking myself right now for not buying my good friend, who turned sports fan later in life, one of the cork bottle stoppers topped with a variety of sports teams. Anyway, I was there for something more important: Dashe Cellars, 2013 Dry Riesling ($22), a peach and lychee-scented sipper that’s so lively and fruity, it’s hard to believe it’s a dry white wine.

And There’s More

We’ll look at Kokomo Winery in a separate post, and there’s also Amphora Winery and Papapietro Perry Winery to explore. Meanwhile, a brief stop at Peterson Winery, a low-key favorite in Dry Creek Valley. Is it their wide range of animal-themed wine labels, including jackalope, and the corny jokes printed on each vintage of “Old School” Zin? Maybe; you’ll find quality here, as well. Winegrower Fred Peterson handed daily winemaking duties to his son, Jamie Peterson, in 2006. They make wine in the cellar just adjacent the comfortable, green-walled tasting room. You thought bag-in-a-box wines were mass-market plonk? Think again. Peterson’s “Zero Manipulation” red blend, in a 3-liter box ($60) or “Old School” Zinfandel ($76) may prove otherwise.

I like the 2013 “3 V” white blend of Vermentino and two other varietals that begin with a V—for very light, reticent aroma, plus delicious body and a hint of saltiness. Drink by the pool in better weather. The new 2012 GSM blend ($38) hails from Bradford Mountain, Fred Peterson’s home vineyard. Planted in 2006, the young Grenache vines that contribute to this Rhône-styled blend are contributing a bright, pretty red cherry note to the wine. And if the bristling coyote on the label appeals to you, you can take that with you, as many of Peterson’s current release labels are available from a roll.

4791 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448. Most wineries open daily, 11am–4:30pm. Tasting fees vary; most $10. Family Wineries phone: 707.433.0100.

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