One of the many benefits of spending a day visiting wineries with Martinelli Winery wine educator Rick Fraga is that conversations with personnel from other wineries inevitably turn to business topics, especially, in this case, harvest. [Okay, they also talk about parties, but that’s a story for another day.]
By all accounts from everyone we talked to, harvest in 2014 came early and fast, very fast. “All hands on deck” kind of fast. So, can you imagine dealing with this at the same time as you are building a state of the art winery, tasting room and hospitality center? Well, this is what the good people at Comstock Wines have been dealing with.
I first tasted the Comstock Wines at the Sonoma In The City event in Los Angeles and really enjoyed their – you guessed it – Zinfandel. That’s also where I met winery partner and general manager Kelly Comstock Ferris. Oh yeah, she was pregnant then, although she pretty much hid it with loose clothing. So add that – the most important part – to an already very complicated mix.
When we visited her in mid-October, her beautiful [2nd] daughter had been born, harvest was in, and that winery and tasting room, well, it was still pretty much a concrete slab, although wall erection was imminent.
And don’t think that Kelly and the new winery are just another couple of pretty faces. Kelly has the chops as well. Growing up in Southern California, she moved to New York to go to college and ended up in the hospitality industry, along with an MBA in Marketing & Entrepreneurship from Baruch College. She opened and ran a successful bar in Manhattan before moving to the Dry Creek Valley, where her parents own a vineyard. Before becoming GM of Comstock Wines, she became Marketing Coordinator of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley as well as holding management positions at two other Dry Creek Valley wineries.
Oh yeah, the wines are pretty good too. The grapes come not only from the Comstock Winery & Estate Vineyards and Comstock Family Vineyards, but from such notable vineyards as Sangiacomo, Gloeckner and Mauritson. Winemaker Chris Russi’s wealth of experience started with Orsi/Kuimelis Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. Since then, he has worked with Geyser Peak, Peter Lehmann Wines in Australia, Christopher Creek and Thomas George. In addition to making the wines at Comstock, he is a professional wine judge and owns a small 106-year-old Zinfandel/Carignane vineyard [yum].
So, we sat in the gorgeous new tasting room…wait, actually that wasn’t built yet, so we sat In the construction trailer – Kelly had graciously schlepped a few bottles for us to taste.
2013 Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc [100% from the Comstock Family Vineyards]
2012 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel [49% from Comstock Family Vineyards, 24% from Mauritson and 13.5% each from the Treborce Vineyard and Faloni Vineyard]
2012 Rockpile Zinfandel [mostly from Mauritson]
The SB was very clean, nice fruit, not too high in the acid component that you sometimes find in other SBs. Both Zinfandels were excellent, plenty of fruit [but not fruit bombs], long finish on both with the Rockpile ultimately stealing the show for me.
They also make a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, both from the Sonoma Coast, as well as a Cabernet Sauvignon. A Viognier will be released in the Spring of 2015. Everything is very small production, so you should get on their mailing list before the next round of Zinfandels are released, also in the Spring. And pay them a visit – that tasting room is scheduled to be open in March and it should be pretty amazing. In the meantime, Kelly says they are “available for ‘hard hat tours’ and ‘construction trailer tastings’ any time before the facility is operational.”
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.