Please give us back the good old days of wine tasting. Please, no more plush tasting rooms with exotic appetizers paired with outrageous tasting fees. Cut the chicness and give us plain wine speak.
Here are two wineries in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County that will put back the fun in wine tasting. These two wineries are family-owned and do things the old-fashioned way, treating tasting room folks with good hospitality.
Preston Farm and Winery
Way down at the end of West Dry Creek Road is where you will find the Preston Farm and Winery Start your journey at the Madrona Manor Inn off Westside Road near Healdsburg. The trek down West Dry Creek Road to Preston is four miles. This bucolic road is one of the most beautiful backroads in all wine country. Watch for walkers, cyclists and joggers. The road is a favorite for outdoor activity.
Lou and Susan Preston’s terrific small winery and vegetable farm is something out of the past. Quiet and peaceful are the watchwords at Preston. All of the land is Biodynamically farmed. At one point the Prestons were making 30,000 cases of wine. They found this to be overload for the other farm products, so they cut wine-case production to 8000 cases. The wine is delicious and reasonably priced. The tasting fee is $20, but purchase a bottle and the fee is waived. It is almost as good as a free tasting. Tasting room hours are daily from 11 to 4:30 pm.
One of the most delightful pleasures is to pack your picnic lunch, buy an excellent bottle of their chilled white wine and enjoy the wonders of the farm. Chances are you will see Lou Preston on the grounds. Lou does it all on his farm and winery. There is also a Bocce court. Play a game with your family and friends; it adds to the enjoyment of the wine experience.
Before you leave Preston, stock up on freshly baked bread and some fantastic olive oil. Check out the veggie offerings.
The next tasting room stop is Unti Vineyards. From Preston Farm and Winery head back on West Dry Creek Road. Turn left on Yoakim Bridge Road. Turn right on Dry Creek Road and head to Unti, about 5 minutes away.
Until Vineyards is another family-owned winery, run by George and Linda Unti and their son Mick. The vineyards were established in 1990 and the winery followed in 1997. Today Unti grows and produces a remarkable mix of wine varieties, some of which are seldom found. Have you tried Fiona, Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Montepulciano, and Mourvedre? You will have your chance at Unti.
Unti Vineyards is open by appointment only, 10 to 4 pm. Call a few days or weeks ahead to book your visit to the tasting room. Like Preston, the tasting style is casual and laid back. The good old days are alive and well in the land of Unti.