A little luck and a lot of art go into winemaking. Myriad factors affect the final product, from climate and weather conditions to pruning and cultivation of the vines, not to mention what’s involved after the grapes are harvested. With so many variables, hats off to those wineries that eschew modern farming practices, which include pesticides and chemicals, for a back-to-basics approach to agriculture.
Not surprisingly, Sonoma County wineries are at the forefront of the movement to create stellar-quality wines au naturel. The Wine Country is home to several organic and biodynamic winemakers across appellations, each stewarding a more sustainable agricultural future by growing diverse crops, using compost for fertilizer, and taking a holistic approach to farming.
Well worth a visit for their wines, as well as their ecological farming practices, here are three Dry Creek Valley wineries you’ll want to add to your wine-tasting adventures. They each welcome visitors to take a look around their farms — rural, organic, beautiful. You may want to pick up a bottle or two to enjoy with your dinner back at your vacation home!
Preston Farm & Winery
Certified organic and biodynamic, Preston Farm and Winery is a family-managed ecosystem that produces a variety of crops, including vineyards, vegetables, fruit and olive trees, grain, and pastured livestock. Their approach to farming harks back to the wisdom of earlier times when agriculture was less intrusive and more in tune with natural growing patterns.
At Preston, they harvest grapes by hand and ferment their wines naturally. And, of course, all the grapes that go into their wines are grown on their land. Handcrafting single varietals as well as artful blends, the winemakers focus on producing well-balanced wines whose taste reflects the true character of the grape. They believe that the less they do to the grapes, the more true to its inherent nature the wine will be.
Preston wines include Petite Sirah, Grenache, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and other blends. Their signature Madame Preston makes the perfect complement to a summer picnic.
Preston Farm & Winery — 9282 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, California
DaVero Farms & Winery
This certified biodynamic ecosystem began in 1990 as an olive orchard, with trees imported from Tuscany. Though still known today for its world-renown olive oils, DaVero has also made a name for itself as winemaker, specializing in Italian varietals.
With a method of growing that fosters thriving, healthy soil and renewing the land, DaVero raises grapes, as well as olive and fruit trees, lavender, and chickens, pigs, and sheep.
Wines are fermented naturally, relying on yeasts naturally found on the grapes instead of adding commercial yeasts. And wines are aged in seasoned, non-oak barrels. Their style of winemaking is old world — a bit of the Italian countryside here in its sister terroir of Sonoma Wine Country.
DaVero happily gives tours of its farm and winery. Call ahead to make plans, learn what biodynamic farming means and how it’s important, and taste great wines. Special Italian varietals include Carignano, Primitivo, and Vermentino.
DavVero Farms & Winery — 766 Westside Road, Healdsburg, California
For years, Quivira has been committed to preserving the health of the land through holistic and sustainable farming practices. Relying on biodynamic principles to create a self-sustaining environment in the vineyards and gardens, they make their own compost and use cover crops to keep the land naturally fertile.
“The vineyard is only as healthy as the compost that nourishes it”: Quivira believes biodiverse farming makes for better wine, as well as a better eco-environment. The winery estate is home to bee hives, pigs, cows, chickens — they even generate their own electricity.
Visit their tasting room to sample Zinfandel, Rhone varietals, Sauvignon Blanc, and other distinctive handcrafted wines. They also have a lovely outdoor seating area. Buy a bottle to go with your picnic and enjoy the good life of Sonoma Wine Country!
Quivira Vineyards — 4900 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, California