While I’ve known of and appreciated the great wines of the Dry Creek Valley for many years, it has only been over the last few that I’ve given them the attention they deserve. It is hard to believe that it took me so long, given the quality of the wines, especially those Zinfandels!
But I do owe a debt of gratitude to Kelly Comstock Ferris, General Manager of Comstock Wines for opening my eyes a little wider to appreciate what I’d been missing.
In early 2014, we first met Kelly at an event in Beverly Hills called Sonoma In The City, a traveling roadshow showcasing the AVAs of Sonoma County. I had just gotten there and I recall expressing to Kelly something to the effect that I was concerned that the event was going to be primarily showcasing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, given their popularity. She quickly put my mind at ease by pouring me the first release from her family’s winery – a 2012 Zinfandel that was just outstanding.
Kelly, after years of experience in the hospitality industry, took on the General Manager role of Comstock Wines when her family decided to go beyond farming the grapes from the vineyard they had owned since 2002 and start making wine.
Later that same year, we had the opportunity to visit with Kelly at the family’s gorgeous new state of the art winery. Actually, we met in the construction trailer and had fun tasting through the wines and seeing the plans for the soon to be built winery and tasting room. We left, promising to be back when construction was complete.
Well, somehow we managed to wait two years for our next visit. Was the wait worth it? You betcha.
Let me start by saying that if you have an opportunity to stay a night or two at a winery’s guest house, you should definitely do so. There is no better way to totally immerse oneself in wine country. And, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than The Residence at Comstock Wines. My wife Karen and I had the pleasure of staying there on our visit.
Just a short walk to the winery tasting room, The Residence provides complete luxury while at the same time is a totally immersive wine country experience, right in the middle of the vineyard property. With four master suites, the huge house also has a full kitchen as well as a living room and media room. In one direction, you can drive to the gourmet restaurants in Healdsburg in just a few minutes and in the other direction are all the wineries and vineyards of the Dry Creek Valley.
And speaking of wineries, the winery at Comstock is a beautiful state of the art building wherein winemaker Chris Russi uses his years of experience and knowledge of the various Sonoma County AVAs and their varietals to “create wines that speak to regional uniqueness.” The winery’s capacity far exceeds Comstock’s production, so they also provide custom crush services to other wineries. I found especially cool the ability to cordon off various sections of the winery to provide for the unique needs of client wineries. And the automated punch-down equipment was really fascinating to me.
All that being said, at the end of the day it is all about the wine, right? Wonderful as this property is, if the wine isn’t up to the same standards…well, it would be hard for me to write this article.
Fortunately, the wines do live up to expectations. Some of our favorites were…
2015 Sauvignon Blanc / Dry Creek Valley – acid on Sauvignon Blanc can sometimes be overwhelming. Not here. Nice tropical fruit flavors with just enough zing on the palate.
2013 Chardonnay / Sonoma Coast – a really clean refreshing Chard. Nice bright flavors.
2013 Zinfandel / Dry Creek Valley and 2012 Zinfandel / Dry Creek Valley – had these side-by-side. The 2012 was the first Comstock wine I had tasted a couple of years early and was drinking beautifully. The 2013, which after our visit won a well-deserved Gold Medal at the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Competition, was drinking great as well, showing off that wonderful Dry Creek Valley fruit.
2013 Zinfandel / Old Vine / Dry Creek Valley and 2013 Zinfandel / Old Vine / Russian River Valley – another side-by side tasting, and a really interesting one. At first, the upfront fruit of the Dry Creek Valley bottling really got my attention. As I continued to taste each wine, the RRV Zin showed a little more complexity and rewarded a little extra attention. You wouldn’t go wrong with either of these.
2013 Zinfandel / Rockpile – there are a lot of great sites for growing Zinfandel, but I have to say that the Rockpile AVA has always held a special place in my heart [and on my palate]. No surprise here, just a beautiful, jammy, delicious wine.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Erin Bush [Residence Manager & Winery Concierge] and Tracy Bidia [Hospitality Director] as well as everyone else we encountered at Comstock for making our stay so enjoyable. Sadly, Kelly Comstock Ferris was out of town so we were not able to connect this time, so we are really looking forward to seeing her on our next visit to Comstock.
1290 Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
See photos of our visit to Comstock Wines and others from our trip here: Sonoma County Series.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.