This reporter visited with several winelovers who traveled from such locations as Arkansas, Florida and New York, specifically to participate in this event. Some of these visitors make plans to come for the Dry Creek Valley Passport Weekend year after year. The attraction to this event is not only the great wines that are born in this unique region, but also due the extra effort of the winemakers and their crew to put on a good show.
Organization was a key to the success of this weekend. Many of the wineries in the valley have minimal parking and are located down narrow gravel drives. Staff was there to guide visitors to convenient parking. Each winery sponsored special events at their wineries, including great musical groups, barrel tasting, special wine tastings, futures, and plenty of delicious foods that paired wonderfully with the wines being served.
Themes presented by the wineries were very creative. Bella Vineyards took visitors on a tour of Africa. With African music played all day, jungle camps were dispersed among the grounds and deep into their Wine Caves. Your safari guides directed you along this expedition among the dark Zinfandels produced at this winery with stops to hunt down delicious food pairings.
Gustafson Family Vineyards invited new visitors to go the extra distance several miles up the road from Lake Sonoma to their 1800 foot elevation winery. You could not help but to enjoy roaming the grounds of this estate with stops to look down upon Lake Sonoma while sampling Kobe beef and two vintages of Petite Sirah, or stroll along their deck with a glass of Mountain Cuvee Zinfandel will 30-mile panoramic views north to Mendocino and east to Napa and Mount St. Helena.
Papapietro Perry Winery took you to New Orleans, greeting you at the door with beads as you enter the gaily decorated winery to sample Pinot Noir and Zinfandels along with a serving of gumbo.
Sbragia was a little piece of Italy at the base of Lake Sonoma at the north end of the valley, providing you with a great time, great music, great wine and great food on their terrace overlooking Dry Creek Valley.
Wilson Winery at the southern end of the valley was a lively place with disco music both days and tri-tip sandwiches and Petite Sirah before you stroll back into their barrel room to sample several vintages of their wine.
Since ticket sales are limited for this event there was never serious traffic along the narrow roads of Dry Creek Valley. And of course, they made sure that they ordered up some perfect spring weather. I look forward to next year’s event on April 30 – May 1, 2011!