Traveling along Dry Creek Road near Healdsburg, there are numerous wineries to explore on either side of the road. But there are a set of wineries hidden from view that are clustered at Timber Crest Farms. Drive five miles west on Dry Creek Road from the exit at Highway 101. Watch on the right for the Timber Crest sign and the names of wineries. Drive up the short hill. We had been here before at Timber Crest visiting Peterson, Papapietro and Amphora. This time we scheduled a visit to Kokomo Winery and an interview with owner and winemaker Erik Miller.
Eric took us out to the Timber Crest Vineyards where he purchases most of his grapes. The vineyards are on the east side of Dry Creek and these particular vines sit on a geological bench. The Timber Crest vines are farmed and managed by Randy Peters. He has been at work at these vineyards and others for the past 40 years and farming is his passion. Perhaps even more so now, because he and Erik are partners in Kokomo Winery. Kokomo’s first vintage was in 2004.
Eric indicates that this has been a most challenging start to the 2014 growing season. The drought and the record-breaking warm temperatures of January are something not seen in the California wine country in many a moon. Erik points to the cover crops growing between rows of vineyards. Ordinarily, the cover crops at this time of the year are two feet high. Instead, this crop is only about two inches high. The cover crop is always plowed under, providing nourishment to the vines. The unusual warm and sunny days in January have advanced the growing season, so now the big threat is frost. If bud break comes early, the threat of frost increases. One good thing is that the east bench is high, and cold air flows downhill to the valley below.
Back at the tasting room, manager Ross James gives us the lowdown on the wines and why visitors keep coming back to purchase the wines of Kokomo. Ross is a veteran of the wine industry, having mostly worked with the Jackson Family Wines. He is a master sales guy and knows how to encourage folks to join the wine club. There are 1700 members, and that is very impressive for a winery that makes 8,000 to 10,000 cases a year. Ross does not have to push too much because the Kokomo wines do sell themselves. We enjoyed all seven wines we tasted, and the prices are fairly reasonable when compared to other nearby wineries. For example, the Dry Creek Zinfandel was delicious and priced at $28. Comparable Zinfandels in the Dry Creek area could be as high as $35 a bottle.
The interesting thing is that Erik makes so many wines each year, as many as 18 different labels. He says, “I have “ADD” when it comes to making wine. I make one wine and before I’m done, I think of another I should make.” The results are some interesting blends. Most of these are made is small case lots and go to the wine club. We quickly got hooked and joined the wine club. We love the Sauvignon Blanc, the Russian River Valley Chardonnay and the Dry Creek Zinfandel. The Pinot Noir is so delightful. My membership in a wine club is usually two years and then I move on to another. I like wine clubs that can offer me something unique and something not found in wine shops. Cheers to the Kokomo Winery! I think that overall their wines are excellent and, even better, value wines.
Tasting room is open daily from 11 to 4:30 pm. Nearby are many other wineries to visit. Check our Dry Creek Wine Trail for additional wineries in the area. You can also find information on nearby lodging and restaurants.