Winery Profile: Pedroncelli Winery of Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Pedroncelli has an impressive 95-year history in the Sonoma County wine business, located in Dry Creek Valley with Zinfandel as their flagship varietal, but producing an array of wines, including a vintage port. They practice sustainable viticulture, as certified by the Certified California Sustainable program, using practices including cover crops, no synthetic pesticides, erosion prevention, and composting.

The same family has run the winery and tended the vineyards for almost a century. The most important statement we can make about our wine,” say the Pedroncellis, “is that we are here for the long term and protecting the environment is one way we will achieve that goal.” Indeed, their comprehensive approach to vineyard management incorporating human resources, viticulture, soil, water, pest, and habitat management as well as attention to wine quality is palpable.

In the early 20th century the Pedroncelli family planted Zinfandel and a variety of other grapes like Carignane, Petite Sirah, and lesser known field blend varieties on an original 25-acre vineyard.  That has expanded to 100 acres today, growing with the demand for their hand-crafted, terroir-driven wines. Zinfandel has always held the most important place, but plantings of other varieties have changed over decades.

“We have had quite a mix of grapes over the years reflecting market preference or winemaker choice,” says Julie Pedroncelli. “Pinot Noir in the 1950s followed by Cabernet Sauvignon in 1965, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Napa Gamay, Sauvignon Vert and French Colombard followed. Then Chardonnay, Merlot & Sauvignon Blanc in the 1980s; Petite Sirah, Syrah and Portuguese varieties in the 1990s; Petit Verdot and Malbec in the 2000s.” The family helped form the Dry Creek American Viticultural Area (AVA), where more than 50% of Sonoma Zin is grown. Just 16 miles long and two miles wide, the AVA is home to one of the densest concentrations of old vine zinfandel in the world. Dry Creek Valley AVA is characterized by warm days, protected from cool coastal breezes by the mountains, tempered a bit by afternoon southerly winds that bring fog. At night, cold air moves in, resulting in diurnal temperature variation very favorable for wine grapes. Dry Creek has diverse and complex soil, with considerable differences between the hillsides and the valley floor. Rocky, gravelly soils predominate in the hills, providing excellent drainage. This Dry Creek conglomerate suits rot-prone Zinfandel, as it can dig its roots deep into the subsoil in search of water, even in arid times.

Pedroncelli has several different vineyard plots. “We learned which grape suits our vineyard microclimates, says Julie. For instance, Pedroncelli produces different Cabernet Sauvignon wines from distinct terroirs. Block 007 was first planted in the early 1960s and there are now 18 acres of Cab here, replanted in 1992-on the Scott Henry trellis system which splits the cordon arms into a double tier, achieving optimum ripeness. Block 007 boasts well drained gravelly soils right next to Canyon Creek. By contrast, the Dry Creek Valley bench vineyard, a mile west of the winery, has more fertile soils and also produces other grapes for blending, including Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

You can order wine online from Bottle Barn, including several Pedroncelli options among their best red wines and their award-winning port. The age-worthy 2018 Pedroncelli Block 007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon features aromas of dried herbs alongside the ripe blackberry and plum notes typical of this vineyard’s terroir. Berry flavors combine with toasty oak, pepper, and a touch of vanilla from oak ageing. The 2019 Pedroncelli Three Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec. This more medium bodied red wine has round tannins framed by cherry, plum and blackberry fruit flavors. The luscious 2020 Pedroncelli Signature Selection Rose of Zinfandel boasts flavors of strawberry and red cherry with a touch of baking spices. This online rose wine’s crisp acidity delivers a clean and refreshing finish. 

Written By: - Charlie Leary

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