As we crisscross the wine country, I realize that eventual corporate buy outs or not, the business of making wines is basically tied to the soil and the farming, which at the end of the day is a family affair. Dry Creek is the father/daughter team of which David Stare is the owner wine maker and his daughter Kim takes care of the marketing. Kim’s husband Don Walker too is enlisted and is now in the process of learning the ropes.

Business should never get too big for its britches,

David Stare tells us as we are having a lunch at Bistro Ralph in downtown Healdsburg. Here is the man with degree in civil engineering from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and MBA from Northwestern University. Academically oriented, he looks the role of his preppy self, dressed in his khakis and crew neck sweater – a tedious nerd.  But as he puts it, from early on he was becoming a cork dork. This leads him to add yet another degree in enology from University of California at Davis. An article in  The Wall Street Journal talking about the bright future of the wine industry in the U.S. prompts him to combine his business acumen with his “cork dork” passion and take a plunge by buying 55 acres of land in Sonoma County in 1972.  Twenty three years later, Dry Creek wines are considered to be some of the best values for the everyday wine consumers.

He believes, Wine should not be an investment.  It’s something you buy because you enjoy it at the time. So do 90% of Americans who consume their purchases the same evening on which it was bought.

The morning, we cross the Golden Gate Bridge to visit Dry Creek, I feel a certain affinity for their wines. I couldn’t help but think of the evening almost fifteen years earlier, my colleague Donald Stewart and I had killed two bottles of their Fumé Blanc over a dinner – which helped us resolve some work related conflicts the two of us were experiencing. Just what good wines are supposed to do.

In the early days, Dry Creek produced predominantly white wines, among them Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Fumé Blanc. So did most of the California wineries.  It all changed almost overnight when in 1992, the sales of red wines sky rocketed in the aftermath of the highly watched CBS program 60 Minutes aired a segment called The French Paradox, crediting red wines for the longevity and good health the French citizens enjoyed.

●●●

Later that afternoon we meet with Bob Levy, the winemaker and one of the partners of Merryvale Vineyards.  Bob had joined University of California in Davis to study medicine, instead he got interested and switched to enology. We spend fair amount of time in Merryvale’s barrel room, tasting and talking wines.  Lightly bearded and balding Bob is a serious man, even looking a bit sad and melancholic at times. He gives you a feeling of being more of a doctor or a professor than the man in such intimacy with his wines. He shares with us some of his best along with his deep passion and philosophy of wine being the beverage most conducive to romance.

I see wine as romance, like raw oysters.  Blend  good wine with good food and think of intimate things that can happen.

His thoughts are centered around romance even when he speaks of the technical aspects of wine making.

Timing for picking grapes is extremely important. Harvesting is the most exciting time.  We work 18 hours a day, seven days a week.  It’s a multiple orgasmic feeling

Pages: 1 2 3 4