A visit to Kachina Vineyards

Kachina-Vineyards-WineryCritic-9-copy

Kachina-Vineyards-WineryCritic-11-copy

Kachina-Vineyards-WineryCritic-10-copy

Kachina-Vineyards-WineryCritic-1-copy

Kachina-Vineyards-WineryCritic-6-copy

Kachina Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley is one of those hidden gems you’ll stumble upon, but usually only because someone told you about it.  This is a small, rustic, appointment-only winery with a focus on organic wines, that is well worth making part of your trip.

As I drove up the hills towards the winery, I could see plenty of solar panels lining parts of the right hand paddock.  Despite its apparent small size, Kachina is high tech with all the modern conveniences in sustainability and winemaking.  I later learned that the winery is one of the few who is operating 100% on solar energy.

There is no tasting room as such. Guests are seated either inside the winery or on the patio outside.  Despite being small, the winery has all the charm and simplicity of “old world” Tuscany. Nancy, the co-owner, winemaker and host greeted me for the tasting.  (It is not often you’ll get to meet someone who is the owner and winemaker, and this wasn’t just for me.  Nancy greets all the guests.)

Today I was in for the wine and cheese pairing.  Unlike most days in Dry Creek Valley, today was a little rainy and my tasting was held in the winery.

Nancy explained that she and her husband Greg came from Silicon Valley tech backgrounds but gave it all up to focus on their passion of winemaking about 15 years ago.  After traveling to France and Italy, they decided to infuse the design of their winery with a touch of Europe. In their roles as owners and winemakers, they are also very hands on and personally greet guests and prepare the tasting experiences.

Along with organic farming practices, Kachina’s wines are not filtered or fined.  This natural approach comes back to a respect for the land.  Nancy said their focus was “doing good to mother earth.”

The pairing was beautifully presented.  It included four wines, three fresh cheeses, dried fruit, a Zinfandel Port and a chocolate truffle.  Along with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll also taste Charbono, a French varietal that tastes a little like Merlot.  Kachina does not produce Zinfandel, but instead produces a Zinfandel Port.

Amongst a strip of wineries on Dry Creek Road, Kachina’s relatively small sign and unique name stands out.  It turns out that “Kachinas” are significant and powerful spirits in the Hopi Indian religion.  The winery branding and their label certainly has an interesting and memorable look to it.

This experience is intimate and would be perfect for a couple or small group looking for a quiet, simple experience.  I’d even recommend it for a special celebration; an engagement, birthday or anniversary. The cellar and patio are both very small and being appointment only means you’ll rarely see many people.

Expert tips:

  • The cheese plate is ample for one person but is not designed as a lunch. They do have a Tuscan lunch tasting which would be great if you are planning to go during lunch time and have a few hours to spend.
  • Avoid event weekends.  Dry Creek Valley has a few event weekends that happen during the year (see events page) and wineries will be very busy.  For the best experience I’d recommend to avoid these times.

WineryCritic Ratings

8/10 Overall visitor experience

9/10 Knowledge of guide

9/10 Location

8/10 Architecture and design, landscaping

8/10 Other experiences:  Tuscan lunch

9/10 Friendliness of staff

9/10 Signage & ease of access

8/10 Quality of the wines poured

Appointment required: Yes

Address:  

4551 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448

www.kachinavineyards.com

Tasting fees & experiences: 

Tastings are by appointment only and are held in the barrel room or on the patio.

  • $10 per person: Just Wine – 
includes 3-4 wines, including a Sonoma Chocolatiers hand-made dark chocolate truffle paired with port. Tasting fee is refundable with the purchase of wine.
  • $20 per person: Wine and Cheese Pairing – 
includes Kachina’s Chardonnay, Charbono, Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with local and imported cheeses and Port with a dark chocolate truffle made with Port.
  • $50 per person: Tuscan Lunch Fare
 – features an array of local and imported cheeses, cured meats, olives, marinated artichokes, fruit, nuts, salad, bread and crackers under the Dry Creek sun while enjoying Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Vintage Port.

Good for:  Couples or small groups

Wines produced:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel Port, Charbono, Chardonnay, Rose, Sparkling Brut.

Tasting & Pairing notes:

2012 Kachina Chardonnay, Russian River Valley ($32) – With a big rich mouthfeel, this Chardonnay begs for a creamy chicken dish or a buttery sole.  Shyer on the nose, it packs a hearty punch on the palate with characters of lemon, lime, savory herbs and mineral notes.  Definitely a food wine!

2012 Kachina Charbono, North Coast ($29) – The North Coast Charbono has a great nose of raspberry, potpourri and orange peel, and follows through on the palate with baked plums, stewed cherries and baking spices.  This is a soft, supple wine that can be served with or without food.  Serve with pork, lamb or pasta, or a cheese plate.

What’s nearby:  Dry Creek General Store, Dry Creek Vineyard, Mauritson Vineyards

District/Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Contact for appointments:  Call Nancy at 707-332-7917 or noni@kachinavineyards.com

Date of visit: November 20, 2013

E-mail: mindy@winerycritic.com