Perlises Pick: Unti Vineyards

We’ve been spending most of our wine country trips lately in northern Sonoma County, specifically the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys. There is an abundance of wonderful wineries in these areas, with a great focus on some of our favorite varietals, such as Zinfandel and California Rhones, among others.

First on our list this trip was Unti Vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley. Not only do they make great Zins and Rhones, but they have an incredible selection of Italian varietals that you won’t find at too many other wineries, in the area or perhaps other than Italy.

We had the good fortune of meeting at Unti Vineyards with winery co-founder Mick Unti and we immediately knew that we had been pronouncing the name wrong when he introduced himself – the “U” is long so the name sounds similar to “Oonti”.

Mick and his father George planted vines in 1990 and officially opened the winery in 1997. Mick manages winery operations and is involved in sales and marketing, as well as winemaking with winemaker Jason Valenti. In total, 60 acres are planted, with 35 acres at the winery planted to various clones of Syrah, as well as Zinfandel, Grenache, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Barbera, Montepulciano, Biancolella, Fiano, Falanghina, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc and Vermentino. The remaining 25 acres are a short distance southeast at the Unti Benchland property, where Zinfandel, Syrah, Sangiovese, Aglianico, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre and Grenache are grown.

We tasted several wines from these vineyards…

2022 Bianco del Campo – a delicious blend of 43% Vermentino, 30% Fiano, 16% Biancolella and 11% Falanghina. White flowers on the nose, and peach notes with nice full mouthfeel. Crisp, with medium to high acidity and a long, buttery finish from the Fiano. 

2022 Grenache Blanc – 100% Grenache Blanc with a ripe apple nose and pear notes.

2022 Rosé – 82% Grenache and 18% Mourvedre. White stone flowers on nose with structured tannin from the Mourvedre and a medium finish. From grapes picked specifically for this wine [i.e. not saignée], this wine shows what rosé can aspire to.

2021 Barbera – 100% Barbera. Ripe cherry in color which follows through on the nose and palate. Medium to high acidity with light pleasant tannins and a medium finish. 

2021 Segromigno – 70% Sangiovese and 30% Montepulciano. Big, juicy fruit from the Sangiovese paired with the tannin and natural acidity from Montepulciano create a lively and delicious wine, with similarities to a Chianti.

2019 Cuvée Foudre – 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah. Bright fruit on the nose and a long rounded finish, Unti’s version of a CDP.   

2019 Zinfandel – 83% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah. Deep burgundy in color and ripe, dark stone fruit on the nose and palate with a touch of baking spices. Rich tannin from the Petite and a full mouthfeel with plum notes and a deep, long finish. 91 Points Wine Spectator

2019 Benchland Syrah – 100% Syrah. Appears to be in a lighter style that is belied by the dark, meaty, subtle smokiness on the palate and the smooth, long finish.

2019 Aglianico – 100% Aglianico. Deep, deep, almost black in color. Delicious dried plum fruit and spicy in taste with great texture.  A long, full mouthfeel and finish.

With such an assortment of varietals planted in two fairly small areas, everything is made in very small quantities, with total annual production under 10,000 cases. Different grape varieties require different approaches, from vineyard management to winemaking, so if it weren’t for the incredible passion brought by Mick, George, Jason and everyone else involved in the winery, it would all be for naught. And Mick agreed that it is that passion that his father and he brought to the winery from the beginning that shows in their wine and what their customers appreciate.  You should plan a visit so you can experience what we did!

Unti Vineyards

4202 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448

Michael and Karen Perlis have been pursuing their passion for wine for more than 30 years. They have had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show them the way and after a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as they possibly could, they had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Michael and Karen do their best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers.