Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
This premier American Viticultural Area (AVA) has a history of grape cultivation dating back to French immigrants in the 1870s, though wheat, hops and prunes have also seen their day. Italian families found the terrain and climate reminiscent of Tuscany, and soon planted extensive vineyards of many grape varieties, including the Zinfandel for which the Valley is most widely known. Today over 9,300 acres of vineyards, primarily of Zinfandel, Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, grace the floor and surrounding hillsides and benchlands of Dry Creek Valley. The area has an astounding mix of soils and microclimates, providing winemakers with grapes of excellent quality.
In the heart of Dry Creek Valley, Arbor Bench has been owned by the Hart-Lidow family since 1984. It is comprised of almost 100 acres, with nearly 33 acres devoted to vineyard and the rest to native woodland. The land is planted to Merlot on the lower reaches, and to Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec on the upper benchland. Unlike the sandy loam of much of the valley floor, the distinctive red benchland soils are gravelly loam, prized for more than a century for producing grapes of exceptional complexity and flavor. The valley floor and western-facing benchland vineyards receive good sun exposure during the day, and the grapes greatly benefit from the evening's cooling fog off the Pacific Ocean less than twenty miles away. These factors further concentrate varietal character and acidic balance.