Mill Creek Vineyards and Winery
In the right light, the tasting room at Sonoma County’s Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery looks as if it has been lifted right off a tin of holiday cookies.
Only the snow is missing to complete the scene. But this family owned Dry Creek Valley winery has not only remained quaint and rustic over its 40-year history, it’s also kept up the quality of its award-winning wines with the times, earning the loyalty of longtime wine buyers, as well as Wine Country newcomers in search of “authenticity.” So why the slickly produced website? It’s all in the family.
No mill, no trouble
Mill Creek’s decorative wheel is indeed turned by water power, but the water is pumped in — it was built in 1982, only inspired by the historic mills of the area. The Kreck family began farming grapes in the 1960s, has made wine since 1974, and the third generation assumed winemaking duties in 2004 when, with enology degree in hand, Jeremy Kreck took over from former winemaker Hank Skewis. Meanwhile, son Brian Kreck developed a successful website design company, skewed to the wine industry.
Take a sip
They don’t like to overly promote the fact, said Yvonne Kreck, but tasting is still free at Mill Creek. It’s an attractive, wood-paneled interior with a high ceiling and wood stove for winter’s day cozy-making, where family and staff do their office work in the loft.
Nobody’s going to give you grief here for mispronouncing the 2012 Gewürztraminer ($23), which has a typically exotic and floral Gewürz (guh-vurtz!) nose, with rosemary, but finishes pretty dry. It’s only 0.3 percent residual sugar, a lot less than typical with this varietal.
From the 2010 Alexander Valley Merlot ($28) to the 2009 Beacham Downey Zinfandel ($38) the red wines are solid and well-priced. On Sundays, looks for library wine specials — some from the 1990s or earlier.
Mill Creek is a Pinot-free zone. Not for ideological reasons, but likely because their home vineyard is located at the southern end of Dry Creek Valley, a nominally warmer appellation where growers generally stay away from Pinot Noir. Just a short drive down Westside Road, however, Felta Creek marks the boundary of the Russian River Valley appellation, which is considered A-OK to proudly declare on a label of Pinot. Rochioli, for instance, is just minutes away.
Hit the road
At the bend in the road, catty-corner to Mill Creek is DaVero, organic olive oil and jam producer. Almost a neighbor, the historic Madrona Manor is a Victorian mansion worth taking a peek at, if not splurging for a room and candlelit dinner.
1401 Westside Rd., Healdsburg, CA 95448. Daily, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. No tasting fee. 707-431-2121.