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Dry Creek Road Wine Trail

Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California Winery and Wine Tasting Guide

by Peter Forbes Crossman & Kath Thomas, photography by Lee Nelson

A magic place near Sonoma County’s towns of
Healdsburg and Geyserville

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A little over two miles past the central Healdsburg exit on Sonoma County's Route 101 is the beginning of an enchanting Wine Trail called Dry Creek Road.
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You’ll be amazed at the majesty of this valley and the flora that seeks out its microclimates. Although it seems to be all at the same altitude, you’ll be stunned when you make a turn in the road to find a redwood grove, another turn and find majestic oaks, then palm trees and cactus. Cactus? Well, I told you this is an amazing place. Bring your camera!

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Dry Creek Valley Vineyard picture
Dry Creek Valley Vineyard

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If you haven’t followed one of our “Wine Trails” before or even if you're a veteran, you might want to review our recommendations on visiting a Wine Trail.
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Be sure to include something to eat along your winery tour. There's a great little country store and restaurant on this route and we'll point out many beautiful picnic areas at the wineries.
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If you follow our suggestion to focus a single Varietal on each wine tasting adventure you can better appreciate the unique aspects of each winemakers skill. Here’s a breakdown of who’s pouring what at the 13 wineries on the Dry Creek Road Wine Trail:

Wine and Winery table

Dry Creek Valley is justifiably known for high quality Zinfandel wines and every Dry Creek Road winery produces Zinfandel.

Getting Started on the Dry Creek Road Wine Trail

Take the Dry Creek Road exit off 101 down to the stop sign and reset your odometer to Zero. Turn left, back under Route 101, and your wine trail tour and tasting adventure begins.
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From here on, mileage given at each location will be along the main road and represents the distance to the next winery or location. Reset your odometer when you reach the main road each time you return from side trips to wineries.
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Some of the wineries on this route are not well marked. If the driver watches the odometer and the copilot watches the road numbers, you shouldn't have any trouble.
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Deux Amis Winery 1.6 miles, #1960 Dry Creek Road
(Deux Amis is now on Limerick Lane)

Keep your eye out for the small white signs on your left that announce Deux Amis Winery and Wilson Winery. How about this, a double header to begin with?
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The parking lot is just beyond the winery on your left.

Duex Amis & Wilson Winery parking
Parking and Wineries

This Tin Barn, once the Fredson Winery, has been a landmark on Dry Creek Road for over a century.
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Take a moment in the parking lot to take in the beautiful view across the valley. (The first picture in this article was taken here)
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Walk back out to Dry Creek Road to the front of the barn to find the entrance to Deux Amis. There's a small sign — which you may have missed as you drove by — for the winery by the door.
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Make sure you have called for an appointment. Deux Amis Winery is usually open on Saturdays, but call 707 431-7945 to make sure someone will be there to greet you.
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In 1987, Jim Penpraze and Phyllis Zouzounis, the two friends, (deux amis), got together and decided to make world class Zinfandel. They both make the wine and the gold medals prove they have achieved their goal.
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Barrels at Duex Amis Winery picture There’s no tasting room here, so expect to see lots of barrels, a wine thief and a friendly owner. Be sure to click the label on the right for Deux Amis 2000 Sonoma County Zinfandel tasting notes. See the rest of their great wines on the Deux Amis web site.

Deux Amis 2000 Zinfandel wine lable picture
Deux Amis
2000 Zinfandel wine label
and tasting notes

Wilson Winery & Vineyard 1.6 miles, #1960 Dry Creek Road
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Around back, at the same location, you’ll find the tasting room and veranda for Wilson Winery. Here’s a real photo opportunity because the view across Dry Creek Valley is simply stunning. The tasting room is warm and uncluttered and the hospitality, outstanding.
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Diane and Ken Wilson bought the property in 1993 and in 1994 produced a Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that won the gold medal and best of class honors at the 2000 Sonoma County Harvest Fair. And that’s just the beginning. The Press Democrat gave them the distinction of producing the wine of the week in their March 13, 2002 issue.

Wilson 2000 Estate Zin label picture
Wilson 2000 Estate Zinfandel wine label
and tasting notes

Not only is this a wonderful place to begin your journey, this is also a winery with a heart. They support a scholarship program for educating children of vineyard workers. Not just theirs, but all vineyard workers.
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You’ll love this place. To see more about the rest of their wines and why you should go there, visit the Wilson Winery web site. E-mail them or give them a call at 707 433-4355

Dry Creek General Store picture
Dry Creek General Store

1.6 miles from Wilson Winery, you’ll come to the corner of Dry Creek and Lambert Bridge Roads. You can’t miss Dry Creek General Store on your right. Founded in 1881, it boasts the best deli in the area along with a fabulous selection of local wines and other goodies.
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Dry Creek General Store is a Mecca for Harley fans and other two wheelers, but don’t let that intimidate you, it’s also a favorite of the locals. It’s a great place to get a picnic lunch and their historic bar serves up wine by the glass and frosty beer. OK, so this is a wine trail article, but if it’s a really hot day…
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F. Teldeschi Winery 1.6 miles, #3555 Dry Creek Road

Take a right at the far end of the General Store’s parking lot and follow the signs up the hill. You’ll find a small parking area and the F. Teldeschi Winery tasting room.
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This is the first of just a few wineries on the right side of Dry Creek Road. This elevated land on the east side of the valley is called the east bench. It provides the grapes grown here with longer exposure to the sun and a later harvest. In this area known for it’s great Zinfandels, this is the ideal growing location, terroir, for bringing out the high sugars, cocoa, chocolate, spice, and intense boysenberry and blackberry flavors that Zinfandel is famous for.
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From the parking lot, look for the sign that says, “Parking for Italians only” and make up a good name on the way in!

Teldeschi Sign & Tasting room picture
Teldeschi's tasting room
is up the hill to the right
of their sign
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East Bench Dry Creek Valley picture
East bench vineyard
behind Teldeschi Winery
320° panorama
Bud break on old vines picture
Vines on the east bench
are some of the oldest in Sonoma County. These pictures were taken during spring 'bud break.'

Stop a moment to enjoy the view across the valley. Teldeschi's sole picnic table has a lot of competition, so arrive early if this is where you want to picnic.
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Inside the cozy tasting room winemaker Dan Teldeschi will be pouring his great wines for you.

Dry Creek Valley view picture
The View across Dry Creek Valley from F. Teldeschi

It’s always a treat to be able to talk with the person who made the wine you’re sipping. Dan’s a great example. He has the passion, knowledge and skills to make world-class wines. Four generations of his family have made wine making their obsession, and it’s clearly evident here.
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You’ll love the warmth of this place and wonder why you didn’t stop at the General Store to get some goodies to go with the great wines Dan’s pouring.

Terroir
is the word for "soil"
in French, but it means much more when used in reference to wine.
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Soil composition, drainage, exposure to the sun and other aspects of microclimate, geographic location — all contribute to what is meant by terroir.
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Terroir is the unique environment of each vineyard.

This is one of the smallest and most intimate tasting rooms on Dry Creek Road — be sure you don’t miss it.
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Tasting room hours vary with the season so contact them before you visit by e-mail or call 707 433-6626.
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Dry Creek Vineyard 0.2 miles, #3770 Lambert Bridge Road

Drive back down the hill from Teldeschi’s and at the stop sign on Dry Creek Road, go straight onto Lambert Bridge Road for two tenths of a mile.


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Dry Creek Vineyard 360° panorama
Winery and Gardens at
Dry Creek Vineyard

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Dry Creek Vinyard tasting room panorama
Dry Creek Vineyard
tasting room panorama

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Dry Creek Fume Blank label picture
2000 Fumé Blanc
Tasting Notes

In an ocean of vineyards you’ll find an island of civilization on your left; Dry Creek Vineyard. The grand ivy-covered stone winery is reminiscent of a French country chateau.
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Past the tree shaded picnic grounds, lush green lawn and delightful gardens you’ll find their magnificent tasting room. A display of their many awards greets you on the way in along with many famous paintings of their award winning labels.
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This is an impressive tasting room with high ceilings, stained glass windows and lots to look at and pour over: books, glassware, art, gadgets and all things wine related.

The wine bar is spacious and the people pouring make this often busy place a warm and intimate experience.
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Dry Creek Vineyard is distinguished by being the first new winery constructed in Dry Creek Valley since Prohibition. The bold move by owner Dave Stare in 1972 launched a new era of premium wine production in Dry Creek Valley. He introduced Sonoma County’s first Fumé Blanc, was an early champion of Bordeaux blending and was instrumental in establishing the Dry Creek Appellation in 1983.

Fumé Oyster Chowder
By winery General Manager, Don Wallace
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1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups onion, finely chopped
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed,
     precooked al dente
1/2 cup Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc
1/2 cup flour
1 quart milk
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. white pepper, or to taste
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
20 oz. fresh oysters in jar, extra small
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Melt 2-3 T. of the butter in a large stockpot. Add onions and sauté until translucent; then add garlic and potatoes and sauté briefly. Deglaze pot with Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc, stirring constantly until alcohol burns off. Add remaining butter and stir until melted. Then add flour, stirring to thicken, as in a roux. Pour in milk and heat slowly; stirring constantly. Add parsley, seasonings, and oysters; continue cooking until thickened and oysters are cooked, approximately 5-10 minutes. Adjust salt if necessary. Place in soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc. Makes 10 one-cup servings.

It seems everyone here loves sailing as you might guess from their beautiful labels. But Dry Creek Vineyard takes this love a special step further by producing an annual Regatta White, sales of which provide funding for the United States Sailing Association.
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See more about Dry Creek Vineyard and their award winning wines on the Dry Creek Vineyard web site. You can contact them by e-mail or phone at 800 864-9463.
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Pezzi King Vineyards 0.1 miles, #3805 Lambert Bridge Road

Just before getting back on Lambert Bridge Road, look to your left and you’ll see Pezzi King Vineyards about 100 yards away across the road.

Watch the signs carefully to find parking and then the tasting room that is to the left of the parking lot.
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This looks more like a family winery with its large maroon barns. But, if you look around enough, and you should, you’ll find beautiful gardens and much more. They have a magnificent patio out back for picnicking (with their wine only, please) with a pretty view up the valley. Look further for more areas of solitude under the red woods where they have a delightful fountain and down the hill, pavilions provide even more privacy and views.
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The tasting room at Pezzi King Vineyards is modern and tastefully done. A private tasting room is available by appointment behind their delightful little gift shop.
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Founded in 1994 by Jim and Jane Rowe and their son Jim Jr., Pezzi King has quickly found a place in the limelight. Best known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Merlots, they continue to explore new Varietals and win more medals.

Pezzi King Vineyards panorama picture
Pezzi King Vineyards 360°
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Pezzi King Vineyards garden picture
Gardens at Pezzi King

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Pezzi King tasting room picture
  Pezzi King's Tasting Room and Wine Shop

For more on Pezzi King Vineyards and their other wines, see their beautiful web site.
You can contact them by e-mail or call them at 800 411-4758.
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Unti Vineyards 1.1 miles, #4202 Dry Creek Road

It’s about 0.2 mile back to Dry Creek Road where you’ll take a left and drive another 0.9 miles to Unti Vineyards. You’ll see their sign on the left or valley side of the road.

Unti Vinyards tasting room picture
Unti Vineyards combination tasting room and production facility

Down their drive you’ll find parking on your right, beyond the buildings. The tasting room is also their production facility so don’t look for oriental rugs or $90 wine glasses. There’s an artist in the family so make sure you notice the great paintings.
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It's a nice place to visit and George Unti, the owner, is usually pouring Mick’s great wines.

This is a beautiful experience, from the atypical (although typical for Italy it is rarely found here) and delicious Sangiovese to the extraordinary Grenache. Mick exhibits the true passion of the dedicated winemaker that is particular and critical to success.
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Out side is a nice picnic area in a garden of rosemary and lavender. Talk about an olfactory treat. Great wines with a backdrop of fresh rosemary and lavender!

Founded by George and Linda Unti in 1998, this little family winery is growing rapidly and getting lots of rave reviews about the ever-increasing number of Varietals they are producing.
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Mick Unti makes the wine and is developing quite a following.

Unti wine label and tasting notes
Unti Vineyards
2000 Dry Creek Valley Syrah tasting notes

Visit Unti Vineyards web site for the ever-growing number of superb wines they are producing and be sure to e-mail or call 707 433-5590 to be sure they will be open before visiting the winery.
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Forchini Vineyards & Winery 0.9 miles, #5141 Dry Creek Road

Look for Forchini Vineyards' small one lane drive on the right side of Dry Creek Road and be vigilant for down hill traffic.
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Forchini Vineyards has been growing premium Varietal grapes in the Dry Creek and Russian River Appellations since 1971. They still sell 75% of their wine grapes to other prominent Sonoma County wineries. The remaining 25% are used to produce their special Signature Wines that are Estate Grown and bottled.

Old barn on Dry Creek Road picture
You'll see this old barn just before the turn to Forchini
Sign and driveway to Forchini picture
Driveway to Forchini Vineyards & Winery
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Forchini Winery and Vineyards picture
Forchini Tasting Room
under construction
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Forchini east bench vineyard picture
Forchini Vineyard on the east bench

In 1996, owners Jim & Anita Forchini took the next step and built their beautiful winery on Dry Creek Road. In progress at the time of this writing is a new tasting room.

One of the few wineries on the right side of Dry Creek Road, they offer entirely different views of the valley. Like F. Teldeschi tasting room above the Dry Creek General Store, Forchini Vineyards and Winery is situated on the east bench. Don’t miss them and the lovely panoramas of their vineyards that abound on their property.
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Jim Forchini has been making his wines since 1996 and the list of gold medals is growing for his hand made Estate bottled wines ever since.

Forchini wine label and tasting notes
Forchini Proprietors Reserve 2000 Zinfandel tasting notes and label

You’ve got to see the rest of their wines and learn more about Forchini Vineyards & Winery on their web site.
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Contact them via e-mail or by phone at 707 431-8886.

Forchini Northern Dry Creek Winegrowers Chicken Cacciatore
Cut up large fryer into pieces and brown slightly in skillet with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Drain chicken parts on paper towel and transfer to large stock pot.
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In original skillet drain most of the fat and oil but leave small amount for flavoring.
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Add additional olive oil and garlic to skillet then sauté in equal amounts chopped carrots, celery and onion, mushrooms, a few whole black olives and finely chopped rosemary, thyme, and parsley until soft and translucent.
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Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add 1 can of chopped Roma red tomatoes, 4 tblsp. tomato puree, and enough tomato sauce to cover the chicken in the stock pot.
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Transfer sautéed vegetables and herbs to stock pot. Add 1 cup Forchini Zinfandel to skillet and scrape/glaze the skillet and transfer to the stock pot.
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Mix contents and bring the stock pot uncovered up to heat and allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until sauce darkens and meat is tender. Add additional wine, or water, to keep chicken slightly covered as required.
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Serve over polenta or with rigatoni pasta. Garnish with Parmagiano grated cheese and fresh chopped parsley and serve with Forchini Dry Creek Zinfandel for a hearty meal that will satisfy a huge appetite.

Talty Vineyards & Winery 2.1 miles, #7127 Dry Creek Road
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Just up the road apiece you’ll find Talty Vineyards & Winery, the newest member of this grand group of wineries along Dry Creek Road.
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You really need to keep your eyes open to find this one. It’s on your left and looks like/is a dirt drive into their buildings off in the distance.
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Michael & Katie Talty are building their home, raising kids and running their new winery. Makes me tired just thinking about it.
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They’re pretty busy with all the above, so do them the courtesy of calling for an appointment at 707-433-8438.

This soup was is an excellent pairing with Talty 2001 Zinfandel. Recipe created by Robert W. Peterson
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Tuscany White Bean Soup
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Makes 16-1/2 Cup Servings
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7oz WHITE ONION, diced
1tbsp GARLIC, minced
2tbsp EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
2cans CANNELLI BEAN-15 OZ CANS, well drained washed
1/4c ITALIAN PARSLEY, minced
2tbsp THYME FRESH, minced
32floz CHICKEN OR VEGETABLE BROTH
4oz RADICCHIO, cored and thinly shaved
1/4c TOMATO PUREE
3/4tsp SALT
1/2tsp FRESH BLACK PEPPER
1/2c PECORINO ROMA NO CHEESE, grated
1tbsp SAGE FRESH, MINCED
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Saute onions & garlic with olive oil until onions are translucent.
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Add parsley & thyme, stir 1 min add broth & white beans.

Add tomato puree & simmer until hot 30 minutes season soup with salt, fresh cracked pepper, and work in radicchio & sage turn off heat & cover 5 minutes.
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Reheat & adjust seasonings & add pecoiuno. Serve with additional grated parmesan, asiago, or pecoriino romano cheese.
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Optional additions: additional vegetables, lentils, or pasta.
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Open a bottle of Talty Zinfandel and enjoy!
Talty wine tasting area picture
Wine Tasting are at
Talty Vineyards & Winery

Michael makes the wine, and you guessed it, Katie does the rest.
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Michael & Katie Talty named their winery after Michael’s dad, William Talty who passed away in 1993 just before his dreams for his family vineyard & winery could come to fruition.

Michael and Katie persevered and purchased the vineyard in 1997 and began marketing their wines in 2001. Their first release is a 2001 Estate Zinfandel and it is already getting rave reviews.
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Don’t expect a grand tasting room here. Like a few we have already visited on famous Dry Creek Road, some are humble and a few are grand. It’s just the nature of the business. We actually prefer the small ones because you're up close and personal with people who love what they're doing and the feeling is infectious.

This one is their production facility, just like Unti and others before it. But the hospitality and the up close and personal experience you’ll get with Michael or Katie more than makes up for it.
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Don’t be surprised to see a few energetic kids under foot. This is a family winery!
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Stop at the front door on the way out to enjoy their magnificent view of Geyser Peak Mountain. Breathtaking!
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Kath and I both tasted their new Zinfandel and loved it’s complexity for such a young wine.


Talty 2001 Estate Zinfandel tasting notes

To find more about Talty Vineyards & Winery or make an appointment to visit them check out their web site, send an e-mail or call them at 707 433-8438.
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Continue on to Part 2 for the conclusion of the Dry Creek Road Wine Trail which covers the following wineries:
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Yoakim Bridge Vineyards & Winery
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David Coffaro Vineyard & Winery
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Fritz Winery
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Ferrari-Carano
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Lake Sonoma Winery

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Website and all photos copyright © 20012014 Lee W. Nelson