By Lisa Rowlands

The appellation’s bounds follow the path of the eponymous creek for more than thirty kilometres with vines concentrated around a fifteen kilometre north by northwest strip, occupying sites along the valley floor and on the hillsides. In total three-thousand-six-hundred hectares of land are planted to vine and a wide variety of grapes are grown. Zinfandel is by far the most prevalent variety with some of the old vines here pre-dating Prohibition, and perhaps the most notable (though not the most planted) of the supporting grapes is Sauvignon Blanc, which thrives in the cooler conditions of the valley floor. The tiny Rockpile AVA sits at the northern end of Dry Creek Valley and is itself known for its premium Zinfandel varietals.

In addition to the principal variety, other red grapes that have found success in Dry Creek Valley include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Cabernet Sauvignon along with a number of other Bordeaux grapes are also grown, however they do not attract the same attention as those from neighbouring appellations. Chardonnay, Viognier and Gewürztraminer are amongst the white varieties grown in smaller quantities.

The overall climate of Dry Creek Valley is heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean and the world famous fog that seeps in from the bay. Proximity to the river, elevation and location within the AVA all have an impact on microclimate with southern plots a little cooler than their northerly counterparts and vineyards on the eastern bank of the creek exposed to sunlight for a longer period than those on the west. Similarly diverse are the AVAs soils with hillside plots of free-draining, iron-rich, coarse gravel contrasting with the alluvial, sandy loam of the valley floor.