Having long been a fan of the wines of Dry Creek Valley, my friends and I set out yesterday for the 2012 Winter Wineland of Northern Sonoma County. We were committed to visiting only wineries we had never been to before. Not surprisingly, we tasted a lot of great Zinfandel and were very gratified to finally taste at Bella Vineyards which we had long-neglected in past visits to Dry Creek. Bella poured two zins to pair with chicken sausage paella by Gerard’s Paella: the ’09 Maple Vineyard which was more fruit forward and ’09 Lily Hill Estate Zinfandel, a lusher, earthier, and chocolatier Zinfandel from the old craggly vines above Bella’s caves. With paella, zinfandel, sun, crisp air, and gorgeous views of Dry Creek Valley, the hour or so spent at Bella was one of the best tasting experiences I’ve had.
Our most exciting surprises of the day were found at Kokomo Winery which just garnered Best of Class medals at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for its ’09 Peters Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River) and ’09 Pauline’s Vineyard Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley) and a Double Gold medal for its ’09 Peters Vineyard Pinot Noir. Grower Randy Peters who farms 70% of Kokomo’s vineyards, including Peters and Pauline’s Vineyards, poured us the Pauline’s Vineyard Zinfandel grown on the property he was raised on. He spoke of his pride in the wine and the sense of reward in the accolades it is receiving. Before yesterday, I had never tasted Kokomo wines. We found all the Winter Wineland offerings at Kokomo exceptionally good, and I took home the clean but soft Chardonnay, the delicate Pinot Noir, the complex and floral Mounts Vineyard Zinfandel, and the rich and structured Pauline’s Vineyard Zinfandel. I will undoubtedly return to Kokomo and delight in sharing and drinking their wines in the coming years.