Just returned from a visit to Del Carlo Winery in Dry Creek. This six hundred case winery is an opportunity to visit and taste what is the heart and soul of Dry Creek. Ray and Lori Teldeschi are the owners of this 50 acre property which grows Cabernet, Old Vine Zin (80/100 years old) Syrah, Petite Syrah and Dolcetto. They produce their wines from about 10% of their vineyard production and sell the remainer to other premium producers. Duxoup Winery uses their fruit and houses their barrel storeage and bottling facility. Their Old Vine Zin comes from a 2 acre plot of vines which are almost 100 years old. They most often bottle age their wines for two years and release them about 4/5 years after the vintage.
What is special about Del Carlo? They offer personal tours of their property and will also taste customers for a nominal fee. This is not the traditional Napa Valley show me your credit card and let's see what we can do for you.. Lori and Ray operate a successful vineyard management company and take care of a number of quality estates. They prune, drop clusters, thin canopy, contract buyers and make sure the vineyards produce the highest quality fruit possible.
Ray is the son of Mike Teldeschi, who was the original source of Zinfandel for the legendary Joe Swan. Ray was raised on this land upon his birth in 1948. Looking at his hands you know he is not a gentleman farmer. He and Lori are involved daily in the growth and production of the vineyards they manage. Swan's grapes for his Zins from the late '60's to very early 70's were sourced from this vineyard. As I looked at the rolling hills and landscape of this vineyard you can see vines which have been grafted from old root stock to healthy pest resistant vines. The 2012 vintage at this time looks to be plentiful. As with any farming mother nature will determine what the ultimate product will be in the months of October and November.
I tasted the 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel (15.5%) and it was well balance and quite young. This is real old vine fruit !!! There is much to still come from this wine as a few more years will show. Their 2008 Cabernet (14%) was also on the young side with strong Cabernet aromas and very balanced tannins. It too needs a few more years of bottle age. Both of the wines are not over oaked and as a result they drink well now and will mature with bottle age. One of the benefits of being small is their price point is very reasonable. The Zin is $32 and the Cab is $30. When you look at the cost of most wines in this category you will see that these represent good value.
What do you get if you visit Cel Carlo? Phone in advance and if they can they can set up a vineyard ride in their vintate 1950 Chevy truck with a tasting of their current release wines. This is one tour when you will actually go with the owner/winemaker and not some PR person.
In summary Del Carlo Winery is a hidden gem in the Sonoma wine experience. Their truck accomodates about 12/14 people. Contact delcarlowinery.com 4939 Dry Creek Road Healdsburg, Ca. 95448. 707-433-1036.