A Little Gem in Sonoma County

A Little Gem in Sonoma County

If the wine industry is Goliath, then Peterson Winery is David. Amazingly, this is a position they embrace willingly as the desire to see the small producer succeed outweighs any feelings of inferiority.

The Petersons find their passion through working together as a unit to create small, handmade batches of sustainable wine, interfering with the wine growing process as little as possible. Emily has a degree in sustainable agriculture, so it’s only natural that their practices emulate this. When she talks about the family’s wines and sustainability, the term ‘zero manipulation’ comes to mind.  The result is a unique product that has something to say through an impressively light carbon footprint. All Peterson Winery reds are unfined and unfiltered.

With the first grapes grown by Fred Peterson, the mantle was eventually handed down to his son, Jamie.  Jamie has been harvesting since 2001 under the watchful eye of Fred, building up immense personal expertise along the way.  In fact, he took a break from 2002 to 2007 when he traveled down to New Zealand and Australia to soak up all he could about these New World wine regions.

While this coastal region sits 1000ft above the Pacific Ocean and, for the most part, is pleasantly warm, Peterson Winery hasn’t been without its challenges. 2011 saw them struggling to make a vintage they were pleased with, mostly due to cooler climatic conditions. However, they bounced back and have since produced excellent vintages they are extremely proud to share!

Peterson Winery is a hallmark of California wines because they’re always rooting for the underdog. In fact, when they pour their wines, they like to showcase the wines that they consider to be underrated, including Carignan, Sangiovese, Rhone grapes, and the rebirth of Merlot.  When it comes to pairing them with food, Emily highly recommends a mushroom risotto to pair with the reds and a lemon and shrimp risotto for the whites.

Peterson Winery believes in learning to crawl before you can walk, which in their case means nurturing the personal relationships that they build through their wine. They want to keep it small and local because connecting with people through their wines is more important to them than turning a profit.

Visiting Peterson Winery for a tasting is the perfect addition to any trip to Dry Creek, a coastal outcrop in Sonoma County that’s sheltered by ancient Redwoods.  With beautiful views of neighboring vineyards, the warehouse-like tasting room is the perfect combination of casual, yet classy.  In addition to their tasting room, they also feature a ‘hang out’ area in the corner for those who like to make a day of it. Emily runs the tasting room along with her father, Fred. While she tries to stick to pouring five wines for every tasting, she often can’t help herself and offers lucky visitors tastes of the family’s other vintages.

If you’re in the area for the weekend and want to explore the surrounding area, Healdsburg is synonymous with the best of the California culinary world. From the Parish Café to Coyote Sonoma, you won’t want to visit this wine region without sampling the local cuisine.  If you’re looking for delicious picnic fixings in between tastings, the Dry Creek General Store, established in 1881, has dozens of beautiful seasonal salads and grilled sandwiches made with local artisanal cheeses. Chef Gia Passalacqua is known in the region for her creativity and focus on fresh, local ingredients. If you’re lucky, you might even catch musicians playing outside on the porch.

If you’re someone who also likes to walk off your wining and dining, there are beautiful hikes in the vicinity as well, which will connect you to the glorious Redwoods that have dominated the landscape for centuries.  What’s more, Sonoma County is incredibly close to San Francisco, making it the perfect location for a quick weekend getaway.

With an extensive range of handmade, small batch wines, Peterson Winery is that gem you’ve been looking for all these years.  Don’t forget – Vinely Wine Club members receive complimentary tastings at all Vinely wineries. Don’t miss out on visiting Peterson Winery on your next trip to Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County!

Rachel Sikkema

Rachel Sikkema is Vinely’s storyteller. She loves writing about all things wine and telling the story of local wineries and winemakers. When she's not testing out exciting new labels to write about, she's busy running around after her two young daughters.