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University of California Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

The Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral History Series 

David S. Stare 


Interviews Conducted by 

Carole Hicke 

in 1996 

Copyright 1996 by The Regents of the University of California 

Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading 
participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the development of 
Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a method of 
collecting historical information through tape-recorded interviews between a 
narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well- 
informed interviewer, with the goal of preserving substantive additions to the 
historical record. The tape recording is transcribed, lightly edited for 
continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The corrected 
manuscript is indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and 
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material, 
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete 
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in 
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, 
and irreplaceable. 


All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement 
between The Regents of the University of California and David S. 
Stare dated January 29, 1996. The manuscript is thereby made 
available for research purposes. All literary rights in the 
manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The 
Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. No part 
of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written 
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, 
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include 
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal 
agreement with David S. Stare requires that he be notified of the 
request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: 

David S. Stare, "Fume Blanc and Heritage 
Wines in Sonoma County: Dry Creek 
Vineyard's Pioneer Winemaking," an oral 
history conducted in 1996 by Carole Hicke, 
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft 
Library, University of California, 
Berkeley, 1996. 

Copy no. 

David Stare, ca. 1990. 

Catalog Information 

STARE, David S. (b. 1939) Winery owner and winemaster 

Fume" Blanc and Heritage Wines in Sonoma County: Dry Creek Vineyard's 
Pioneer Winentaking, 1996, vii, 83 pp. 

Civil engineering background; early interest in wine, and Wine and Cheese 
Cask in Boston; studying enology at UC Davis; Dry Creek Valley wineries, 
buying property; making Fume Blanc; label design; Zinfandel. 

Interviewed in 1996 by Carole Hicke for the Wine Spectator California Wine 
Oral History Series, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley. 



INTERVIEW HISTORY- -by Carole Hicke vi 



Parents 1 

Growing Up on a Farm Near Boston 3 

Education 5 


Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, 1964 9 

Interest in Wine: Tasting, and Planting Grapes 9 

Living and Working in Germany 11 
Developing a Serious Interest in Wine and the Wine Industry 13 

Wine and Cheese Cask 14 


Moving to California 16 

Studying Winemaking 16 

Looking for Property in Northern Sonoma County 18 

Purchasing Dry Creek Vineyard Property 21 

Building the Winery and Making Wine 23 

Equipment 26 

A Distinctive Label Design 27 

Marketing and Distribution 29 

Planting the Vines; Vineyard Management 32 

Pioneering in Dry Creek Valley 34 

Sauvignon Blanc: The Dry Creek Flagship Wine 36 

Winemakers at Dry Creek 37 

Other Dry Creek Vineyard Wines 38 


Expansion in the 1970s 41 

Continued Expansion in the Eighties 43 

Tasting Room 44 

The Nineties 45 

Growth of Vineyards 51 

Working With Growers 54 

Don Wallace 57 

Meritage Wines 59 

Merlot 61 

Sonoma County Soleil 62 

Dry Creek Valley Appellation Recognized in 1983 64 

Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley 65 

Bug Creek Wine Label: Rose of Cabernet 66 

Celebrities Labels 67 

Winery Associates Formed 1982 

Society of Blancs, 1990 70 

Wine Institute 

Changes in Sonoma County and Dry Creek Valley Wine Industry 74 

Sonoma County Technical Tasting Group 75 



A Wine Label Samples 

B Winery Logbook Facts & Figures 82 




The California wine industry oral history series, a project of the 
Regional Oral History Office, was initiated by Ruth Teiser in 1969 
through the action and with the financing of the Wine Advisory Board, a 
state marketing order organization which ceased operation in 1975. In 
1983 it was reinstituted as The Wine Spectator California Winemen Oral 
History Series with donations from The Wine Spectator Scholarship 
Foundation. The selection of those to be interviewed has been made by a 
committee consisting of the director of The Bancroft Library, University 
of California, Berkeley; John A. De Luca, president of the Wine 
Institute, the statewide winery organization; Maynard A. Amerine, 
Emeritus Professor of Viticulture and Enology, University of California, 
Davis; the current chairman of the board of directors of the Wine 
Institute; Carole Hicke, series project director; and Marvin R. Shanken, 
trustee of The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. 

Until her death in June 1994, Ruth Teiser was project originator, 
initiator, director, and conductor of the greater part of the oral 
histories. Her book, Winemaking in California, co-authored with 
Catherine Harroun and published in 1982, was the product of more than 
forty years of research, interviewing, and photographing. (Those wine 
history files are now in The Bancroft Library for researcher use.) Ruth 
Teiser 's expertise and knowledge of the wine industry contributed 
significantly to the documenting of its history in this series. 

The purpose of the series is to record and preserve information on 
California grape growing and winemaking that has existed only in the 
memories of wine men. In some cases their recollections go back to the 
early years of this century, before Prohibition. These recollections are 
of particular value because the Prohibition period saw the disruption of 
not only the industry itself but also the orderly recording and 
preservation of records of its activities. Little has been written about 
the industry from late in the last century until Repeal. There is a real 
paucity of information on the Prohibition years (1920-1933), although 
some commercial winemaking did continue under supervision of the 
Prohibition Department. The material in this series on that period, as 
well as the discussion of the remarkable development of the wine industry 
in subsequent years will be of aid to historians. Of particular value is 
the fact that frequently several individuals have discussed the same 
subjects and events or expressed opinions on the same ideas, each from 
his or her own point of view. 

Research underlying the interviews has been conducted principally in 
the University libraries at Berkeley and Davis, the California State 


Library, and in the library of the Wine Institute, which has made its 
collection of materials readily available for the purpose. 

The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record 
autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed 
significantly to recent California history. The office is headed by 
Willa K. Baum and is under the administrative supervision of The Bancroft 

Carole Hicke 
Project Director 

The Wine Spectator California Winemen 
Oral History Series 

August 1996 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


Interviews Completed as of September 1996 

Leon D. Adams, Revitalizing the California Wine Industry. 1974 

Leon D. Adams, California Wine Industry Affairs: Recollections and Opinions, 

Maynard A. Amerine, The University of California and the State's Wine 
Industry. 1971 

Maynard A. Amerine, Wine Bibliographies and Taste Perception Studies. 

Richard L. Arrowood, Sonoma County Winemaking: Chateau St. Jean and Arrowood 
Vineyards & Winery. 1996 

Philo Biane, Wine Making in Southern California and Recollections of Fruit 
Industries. Inc. , 1972 

Charles A. Carpy, Viticulture and Enology at Freemark Abbey, 1994 
John B. Cella, The Cella Family in the California Wine Industry. 1986 

Charles Crawford, Recollections of a Career with the Gallo Winery and the 
Development of the California Wine Industry. 1942-1989, 1990 

Burke H. Critchfield, Carl F. Wente, and Andrew G. Frericks, The California 
Wine Industry During the Depression, 1972 

William V. Cruess, A Half Century of Food and Wine Technology. 1967 

Jack and Jamie Peterman Davies, Rebuilding Schramsberg; The Creation of a 
California Champagne House. 1990 

William A. Dieppe, Almaden is My Life. 1985 

Paul Draper, History and Philosophy of Winemaking at Ridge Vineyards: 1970s- 
1990s. 1994 

Daniel J. and Margaret S. Duckhorn, Mostly Merlot; The History of Duckhorn 
Vineyards. 1996 

Ficklin, David, Jean, Peter, and Steve, Making California Port Wine: Ficklin 
Vineyards from 1948 to 1992. 1992 

Brooks Firestone, Firestone Vineyard; A Santa Ynez Valley Pioneer. 1996 
Louis J. Foppiano, A Century of Winegrowing in Sonoma County. 1896-1996. 1996 
Alfred Fromm, Marketing California Wine and Brandy. 1984 


Louis Gomberg, Analytical Perspectives on the California Wine Industry. 1935- 
1990. 1990 

Miljenko Grgich, A Croatian-American Winemaker in the Napa Valley. 1992 
Joseph E. Heitz, Creating a Winery in the Napa Valley. 1986 
Agustin Huneeus, A World View of the Wine Industry. 1996 

Maynard A. Joslyn, A Technologist Views the California Wine Industry. 

Amandus N. Kasimatis, A Career in California Viticulture. 1988 

Morris Katz, Paul Masson Winery Operations and Management. 1944-1988, 1990 

Legh F. Knowles, Jr., Beaulieu Vineyards from Family to Corporate Ownership, 

Horace 0. Lanza and Harry Baccigaluppi, California Grape Products and Other 
Wine Enterprises. 1971 

Zelma R. Long, The Past is the Beginning of the Future: Simi Winery in its 
Second Century. 1992 

Richard Maher, California Winery Management and Marketing. 1992 

Louis M. Martini and Louis P. Martini, Wine Making in the Napa Valley. 

Louis P. Martini, A Family Winery and the California Wine Industry. 1984 

Eleanor McCrea, Stony Hill Vineyards: The Creation of a Napa Valley Estate 
Winery. 1990 

Otto E. Meyer, California Premium Wines and Brandy, 1973 

Norbert C. Mirassou and Edmund A. Mirassou, The Evolution of a Santa Clara 
Valley Winery. 1986 

Peter Mondavi, Advances in Technology and Production at Charles Krug Winery. 
1946-1988. 1990 

Robert Mondavi, Creativity in the Wine Industry. 1985 

Michael Moone, Management and Marketing at Beringer Vineyards and Wine World. 
Inc.. 1990 

Myron S. Nightingale, Making Wine in California. 1944-1987. 1988 
Harold P. Olmo, Plant Genetics and New Grape Varieties. 1976 

Cornelius Ough, Researches of an Enologist. University of California. Davis. 
1950-1990. 1990 

John A. Parducci, Six Decades of Making Wine in Mendocino County. California, 

Antonio Perelli-Minetti, A Life in Wine Making. 1975 

Louis A. Petri, The Petri Family in the Wine Industry. 1971 

Jefferson E. Peyser, The Law and the California Wine Industry. 1974 

Joseph Phelps, Joseph Phelps Vineyards: Classic Wines and Rhone Parietals. 

Lucius Powers, The Fresno Area and the California Wine Industry, 1974 
Victor Repetto and Sydney J. Block, Perspectives on California Wines, 1976 
Edmund A. Rossi, Italian Swiss Colony and the Wine Industry. 1971 

Edmund A. Rossi, Jr., Italian Swiss Colony. 1949-1989; Recollections of a 
Third-Generation California Winemaker. 1990 

Arpaxat Setrakian, A. Setrakian, a Leader of the San Joaquin Valley Grape 
Industry, 1977 

Elie Skofis, California Wine and Brandy Maker. 1988 

David S. Stare, Fume Blanc and Meritage Wines in Sonoma County: Dry Creek 
Vineyard's Pioneer Winemaking, 1996 

Rodney S. Strong, Rodney Strong Vineyards: Creative Winemaking and Winery 
Management in Sonoma County, 1994 

Andre Tchelistchef f , Grapes. Wine, and Ecology. 1983 

Brother Timothy, The Christian Brothers as Wine Makers, 1974 

Louis (Bob) Trinchero, California Zinfandels. a Success Story. 1992 

Charles F. Wagner and Charles J. Wagner, Caymus Vineyards; A Father-Son Team 
Producing Distinctive Wines. 1994 

Wente, Jean, Carolyn, Philip, and Eric, The Wente Family and the California 
Wine Industry. 1992 

Ernest A. Wente, Wine Making in the Livermore Valley. 1971 
Warren Winiarski, Creating Classic Wines in the Napa Valley. 1994 
Albert J. Winkler, Viticultural Research at UC Davis (1921-1971), 1973 

John H. Wright, Domaine Chandon; The First French-owned California Sparkling 
Wine Cellar, includes an interview with Edmond Maudiere, 1992 


David S. Stare, owner and winemaster of Dry Creek Vineyard, was 
interviewed as part of the Wine Spectator's California Wine Oral History 
Series to document his career and contributions to the history of California 
wines . 

Dave Stare built his winery in Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg, 
California, in 1972, the first of many wineries to locate there in many 
decades. This long-neglected but historically significant grape-growing 
valley offered just what Stare was looking for, and he proceeded to make the 
area's first Sauvignon Blanc varietal Dry Creek Vineyard Fume Blanc. Widely 
hailed as one of California's definitive wines, the Fume Blanc has become the 
winery's flagship, but not its only distinguished varietal. Stare also makes 
other whites and reds of consistently high quality, including Heritage wines 
and a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. Dry Creek's sailboat label design is 
unusual- -sailboats on Dry Creek?--and his Bug Creek Vineyard label in 1992 
celebrated (or made the best of) the phylloxera invasion. 

Stare was interviewed in his office at the winery built, as he 
requested, to look as if it had been there a hundred years. Dave was 
interviewed on January 11 and 12, 1996, and he reviewed the transcript making 
few changes. 

This series is part of the ongoing documenting of California history by 
the Regional Oral History Office, which is under the direction of Willa Baum, 
Division Head, and under the administrative direction of The Bancroft Library, 
University of California, Berkeley. 

Carole Hicke 
Project Director 

July 29, 1996 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 
Your full name David Scott Stare 

Date of birth 


Birthplace **adison, Wisconsin 

Father's full name Fredrick John Stare 

Occupation Doctor - Professor 
Mother's full name Joyce Love 

Birthplace Columbus, Wisconsin 

Occupation Librarian 

Birthplace Winnfield, Louisiana 

Tour spouse_ 

Your children Kim Stare Wallace 

Romy Joyce Stare 

Where did you grow up? Wellesley, Massachusetts 
Present community Healdsburq, California 

Education B.S., Civil Engineering, M.I.T.; MBA, Northwestern. One 
year graduate work in enology and viticulture at Davis. 

Occupation(s) . Vintner 

Areas of expertise 

wine marketina and sales 

Other interests or activities sailing, golf, food & wine, travel, railroads 

Organizations in which you are active Sonoma County Wineries Association, 
Nautical Heritage Society 

[Interview 1: January 11, 1996 ]##' 


Hicke: Let's just start this afternoon with when, and where you were born. 
Stare: I was born in Madison, Wisconsin on September 22, 1939. 
Hicke: Can you tell me a little bit about your parents? 

Stare: My dad [Fredrick Stare] was, when I was born, a graduate student at 
the University of Wisconsinor he had some research position 
there. He was from Wisconsin. His father had been, for a number 
of years, the general manager of what, at that time, was the 
world's largest canning factory, in Columbus, Wisconsin. And, my 
dad went to the University of Wisconsin, both undergraduate, 
graduate, and Ph.D. I think he was the youngest person to ever get 
his Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Wisconsin at that 
time. I think he got his Ph.D. at the age of twenty- two or twenty- 
three . 

Hicke: That's impressive. 

Stare: My mother was born in Winfield, Louisiana, which is a small town in 
central Louisiana. Her father, when my parents got married, was 
governor of Louisiana, Governor Allen, who was Huey Long's 
successor, some might say his hand-picked successor. But, my 
parents met when my mother was a summer school student at the 
University of Wisconsin, living at a fraternity house that my 
father was a member of, and he had a summer job that summer, 

'This symbol (ii) indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. A guide to the tapes follows the transcript. 

running the fraternity house as a dormitory for summer female 
students, summer co-eds at University of Wisconsin. That was 
sometime in the mid-thirties. 

They got married in about '36, and they lived in Europe for 
three years . They came back and were living in Madison when I was 
born. I lived in Madison for approximately three weeks, and as a 
baby, moved to Chicago, Illinois, where my dad got his M.D. degree. 
Then, he went to Washington and Lee University, in St. Louis, for a 
year of internship, and then got offered a job by Harvard 
University School of Public Health to found and start the 
Department of Nutrition. So, he and my mom and my brother, who is 
a year older than myself, and myself, moved to Boston in 1941, 
December of '41, Pearl Harbor month. And, that's why I was raised 
a Bostonian. 

Hicke: Your father has a very famous name in his field. 

Stare: He is well known in the field of nutrition. It's probably safe to 
say that twenty-five years ago he was probably this country's 
foremost recognized authority on nutrition. He still is alive, at 
eighty-five, and still does some minor writing and work. 

Hicke: How does he feel about wine and nutrition? 

Stare: We've had lots of talks about this. His whole feeling about food 
and nutrition is anything is okay as long as it's in moderation. 
My father is not a wine drinker; I think he's more of a gin-and- 
tonic drinker. He was brought up during Prohibition. And I think 
people who were brought up during Prohibition were influenced more 
by bootleggers of gin and whisky, and he enjoys a couple of gin- 
and-tonics a day during the summer, and during the winter it's 
probably scotch and water, it's more of a wintertime thing. 

I think the only wine he ever drinks is what I give him, 
usually two cases of wine at Christmas, and it's always nice to go 
visit him because he always has a nice selection of older Dry Creek 
wines [laughter]. He doesn't drink very much wine. Someone did 
send me, about a year ago, a little blurb from Wines and Vines, 
saying that back in the late fifties, my dad gave a talk at some 
medical meeting, I think it was Cleveland, where he was talking 
about the fact that small amounts of wine and alcoholic beverages 
may make you live longer and certainly contribute to your digestive 
system. But, as far as wine, per se, I think he's kind of 
indifferent toward it. 

Hicke: I think the Harvard School of Public Health has done an impressive 
job of educating the public. 

Stare: Yes, Dad retired when he was sixty-five, which was probably about 
twenty years ago, since he's eighty-five now, and he stayed on for 
two and a half more years because they couldn't find a replacement. 
The current chairman of the Department of Nutrition, Doctor 
Willits, is one of the fellows who has done a lot towards this 
whole wine-in-moderation movement. Professor Kurt Elison, Doctor 
Elison, from Boston University, who was the guy on "60 minutes," 
the CBS "60 minutes" program, Kurt was a student of my father at 
one time, and they're good friends. 

Hicke: What was your mother's name? 

Stare: Her name was Joyce Allen Stare. I like to jokingly say, my 
grandfather was one of the leading pioneers in the food 
preservation and canning industry in this country-- 

Hicke: Oh, was he! 

Stare: Yes. And my father was professor of nutrition, and I've just 
carried the whole family food theme one more step to a more 
enjoyment of good food and fine wine [chuckles]. 

Hicke: Culminates with Dry Creek wines, yes, that's super. Do you have 
brothers and sisters? 

Stare: 1 have a brother and a sister. My brother is Fredrick; he lives in 
Chicago, he's retired. He was a psychology professor for a number 
of years, and then managed some personal investments, had an 
interest in a French restaurant for a while, and is basically 
retired. Fred's a year and a half older than I am. My sister is 
Mary Sue. She's about fourteen years younger than I am, and she 
lives in Durham, Connecticut, with her husband, who's a doctor. 
They have five kids , ranging from a sophomore at Harvard down to a 
four year old. 

Growing Up on a Farm Near Boston 

Hicke: So, you grew up in Boston? 

Stare: Yes. 

Hicke: What do you remember about that? 

Stare: We moved to Boston, as I said, in 1941, and about the first thing 
that I can really recall, I recall the day that my dad came back 
from the Second World War. When he got back, the next day we went 

out and bought a dog. We nicknamed this dog Douglas after General 
Douglas MacArthur. Douglas was a wonderful dog. He lived with us 
for probably fifteen years, and we bred him; he was a registered 
Black Lab[rador]. For a number of years, we bred black labradors 
and probably had black labs for twenty-five years, until all the 
kids left home, and we didn't want to be involved with dogs 
anymore. But that was one of my first memories. 

We moved to my dad's present house in, I think, the fall of 
1948, when I was nine years old. My dad was raised in the small 
town of Columbus, Wisconsin, a city of probably 2,500, and always 
wanted to live out in the country. The first two houses he lived 
in had been invery definitelya suburban area of the town of 
Newton, which is a suburb west of Boston. I think he had always 
wanted to live on a farm. So, in 1948, he bought a forty-acre, 
run-down farm, fourteen miles west of Boston, in the town of 
Wellesley. We moved there in August of '48, and as I say, he still 
lives in the same house, although you wouldn't recognize the house 
now because it ' s been renovated so many times . But when we moved 
there, it was strictly a little farmhouse. I can recall there used 
to be tin can lids nailed on the baseboards to cover up holes where 
mice and rats had chewed. It was an old farmhouse, built in the 
1840s. And, as I say, it's been renovated many times, and 
modernized, it doesn't bear much resemblance to what it was back 
when we moved there. 

Hicke: I think that it's a great thing to save the original building if 
you can. 

Stare: Yes. I think they actually moved there when I had gone away to 

summer camp. I came back from summer camp and saw the farm for the 
first time. It was a tiny house. My brother and I shared one 
small bedroom, my mother and dad shared a second bedroom, the third 
bedroom upstairs was lived in by my uncle. My uncle, my mother's 
youngest brother, lived with us when he got out of the army. He 
came to live with us when he was a student at Boston University. 
He lived with us for a couple of years in this little house. They 
started in 1950 to add an addition, and in about '56 to add another 
addition to the house. The house bears no resemblance to the way 
it was. 

One of the other earlier remembrances of living on the farm: 
one other time I had gone off to summer camp; I was shipped off to 
summer camp for about six or seven years every summer, loved it. 
One day, before I had gone off to camp, we had planted a garden, 
and one of the things I had wanted to grow was watermelon. About 
two weeks before coming home in the latter part of August, I got a 
letter from my dad saying, "We had one large watermelon that was 
growing very nicely in the garden," and nothing elsethe other 

watermelons hadn't grown. They picked me up at North Station, on 
the train, and we went home, and I ran up to the garden, and there 
was a large watermelon there, sitting amongst a field of very puny 

Hicke: Was it attached to the vine? [laughter] 

Stare: No, it was not attached. I later realized he had bought that at 
the supermarket that morning [laughter]! I think it still had 
grease pencil, "six cents a pound," or something. But, I got a 
kick out of that, and still enjoy it very much; it's fun 

Hicke: Oh, that was a great story. Did you grow any grapes? 

Stare: As a matter a fact, when they bought the farm, there were two rows 
of basically Concord--Vitis Jabrusca, hybrid grapes, Concord 
variety, two rows, probably each about a hundred yards long, from 
which my mother made, for a number of years, grape jelly, and we 
used to always have fresh-picked grapes, and they're still there. 

Hicke: I guess that's the grape that would do well in a climate like that. 

Stare: Well, Concord is the variety that grows commercially in the 

Northeast, and was, for many years, the mainstay of the New York 
wine industry. It's a wonderful eating grape, but it makes 
terrible wine; it's adapted to the snow and the cold winters that 
you have back East. 


Hicke: What about your school? 

Stare: Okay, I went to the Anger Elementary School in Waban, Mass., for 
kindergarten, and first, and second, and for about a month of the 
third grade. Then I had an operation I used to have big, Dumbo- 
like ears, they stuck out a mile, and I felt very self-conscious 
about it, and I had a operation on my ears to get them pinned back 
so they didn't stick out and wave at you. That was in the fall of 
my third-grade year at school. 

I came back to school and did not adjust very well, and 
sometime during the fall of my third-grade year, my folks took me 
out of Anger, and I was enrolled in a school called the Fessenden 
School, which was a private day school in Newton, five miles from 
where we lived. Actually I repeated; they put me back a year. I 

repeated my second-grade year, and then third, forth, fifth, sixth, 
seventh, and eighth grade at Fessenden, and thoroughly enjoyed it. 
Then, for my high-school years, I was sent away to Phillips 
Academy, Andover, Mass., and again, thoroughly enjoyed it, although 
a lot of people say that some of my idiosyncracies and weirdness is 
caused by the fact that I went to an all-boys boarding school. 

Hicke: [chuckles] Well, it makes for a good excuse. 

Stare: Yes, well, Andover, as you know, is one of the country's leading 
prep schools, where former President [George] Bush was a student, 
and Errol Flynn was a student there, and lots of famous people went 
there. I was there for four years, and again, thoroughly enjoyed 
it. After Andover, I enrolled in three undergraduate colleges: 
Princeton, R.P.I. [Renssalear Polytechnic Institute] and M.I.T. 
[Massachusetts Institute of Technology] . Got turned down at 
Princeton, and that, probably, had been going to be my first 
choice; got accepted at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, 
New York, and M.I.T. I ended up going to M.I.T. 

My four years at M.I.T. were spent living in the DU [Delta 
Upsilon] fraternity house. I was a civil engineering student at 
M.I.T. --not a particularly distinguished scholar, I had about a B 
minus or a C plus average, but I enjoyed it. M.I.T. is a school 
where you work hard. But I thoroughly enjoyed the four years at 
M.I.T. I think if I had realized I was going to be in the wine 
business, I wouldn't have gone to M.I.T.; I would have gone to 
[University of California at] Davis, or someplace different. 

Hicke : Let ' s back up a minute and find out how you got interested in civil 
engineering . 

Stare: Okay. My lifelong love has always been railroads. I think- -my dad 
says I got this ingrained when I was two weeks old- -we moved from 
Madison [Wisconsin] to Chicago, and there used to be a train called 
the Hiawatha, which would run from Minneapolis /St. Paul to Chicago, 
and stopped in the town where my grandparents lived, Columbus. At 
one time, it was one of America's fast trains, and it would only 
stop for thirty seconds in Columbus. The story is told that my 
mother and dad got on, and then my grandfather started to hand me 
up in a basket, and the train started to leave. He threw me up 
onto the platform, and I bumped my head on a railing, and that's 
how I kind of got ingrained with railroads as a hobby [chortles]. 
And, I've been a life long railroad buff, all my life. 

So, anyway, I don't know how I got into railroads, but I've 
been a train buff all my life. About when I was in junior high, my 
real goal was to go to work for a railroad. Back in the fifties 
and sixties, the railroads were in a bad position; they were down- 

sizing, they were losing passengers, they were down-sizing from the 
World War II, and they were in pretty bad shape. My initial 
ambition in life was to save the railroads. 

So, I went to M.I.T. as a civil engineering student. Civil 
engineering is one of the traditional branches of engineering that 
deals with railroads, construction of right of ways, bridges and 
that kind of thing. That's why I majored in civil engineering. It 
actually took me until about halfway through my junior year to 
realize I hated engineering. 

My first summer job at M.I.T. was working for a construction 
company as an assistant surveyor, laying out the Callahan Tunnel, 
which is the second tunnel that was built across Boston harbor, 
connecting the airport to downtown Boston. The first [was] built 
back in the thirties, a two-lane tunnel. They built the Callahan 
Tunnel in the late fifties, and I worked on that. If you ever go 
to that tunnel, there are a couple of curves in it, and I like to 
jokingly say, the reason the curves are there is that we did a 
sloppy job of surveying, and they had to put the curves in to 
correct our mistakes. That's not true, of course. 

But, I enjoyed that job, and then my next summer, the summer 
between my sophomore and junior year, I spent, like a lot of kids 
do, college kids, in Europe, with a backpack and a Eurorail pass 
kind of bumming around for two months. 

And then the summer between my junior and senior year, I 
actually worked for the first time in California. I was able to 
get a job with the Matson Steamship Company, essentially as a 
mechanical engineer draftsman working on some of the preliminary 
designs of their whole container program. Containers and putting 
trailer trucks on flat cars were just coming on-line back in the 
late fifties and early sixties, and I thought it was a great 
future. As it turned out, half the trucks in the country now go by 
train in some form. I spent the summer of '61 as a design engineer 
for Matson, living in San Francisco. That's the first time I ever 
visited the California wine country. After that job, I realized I 
hated engineering. 

So, my senior year at M.I.T., where I should have been taking 
advanced courses in soil mechanics and strength of materials, and 
that kind of thing, I took a marketing course, I took an economics 
course, I actually took a course in naval architecture, which was 
operations research, things out of the civil engineering field. 
So, I graduated in '62 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in civil 
engineering. I really did not quite know enough to be a licensed, 
professional civil engineer with what I knew. 

Hicke: You were not interested in doing that anyway. 

Stare: No, I was not. I also realized in my senior year at M.I.T. that I 
wanted to go right on to graduate school and get an M.B.A. So, 
again, I applied to maybe four or five schools, I can't recall. I 
think the University of Wisconsin, Michigan State, Northwestern, 
and I don't know where else. But I ended up going to Northwestern, 
which, at that time, ranked itself as one of the top ten business 
schools in the country. I suppose if you say, "one of the ten," 
that means you're number ten; if you say, "We are in the top five," 
we are number five [chuckle]. I got married after graduating from 
M.I.T., and moved to Chicago, and spent two years doing my M.B.A. 
at Northwestern University in Chicago. 


Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. 1964 

Stare: I graduated in June of '64 from Northwestern, and then ended up 
working for the Baltimore-Ohio Railroad in Baltimore, Maryland. 
Again, I mentioned this earlier, I wanted to save the railroads, 
and I got a job with B&O Railroad, which was a wonderful place to 
work back in the early sixties, or mid-sixties. My summer job 
after M.I.T. and at Northwestern, I worked for the Pennsylvania 
Railroad as an industrial engineering assistant. The first summer 
I lived in Ohio, and the second summer I lived in Chicago. 

In my job at the B&O, which began after graduation in "64, I 
was an assistant industrial engineer. What made the B&O kind of a 
fun place to work is, it was a railroad that had gone badly 
downhill in the late fifties and early sixties, and was flirting 
with bankruptcy in about "61 or '62. At that time, a controlling 
interest was bought by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, and they 
brought in a new president, a fellow by the name of Jarvis Langdon, 
who was a real forward-thinking guy for the railroad industry back 
then. He brought in a staff of bright, young associates, and my 
boss Bill Dickson--W. J. Dicksondeveloped an industrial 
engineering team on the B&O railroad, and I became one of his 
lieutenants, one of his people. I spent about two years doing 
that --loved it, loved the company, loved working, you know, trying 
to make it more efficient. I spent about two years as an 
industrial engineer for the B&O. 

Interest in Wine; Tasting, and Planting Grapes 
Hicke: Before we move on, let me ask: when did you start drinking wine? 


Stare: Probably when I was a graduate student at Northwestern. I vaguely 
recall my first wife and I would occasionally buy a bottle of wine, 
but I really became interested in wine more as a hobby when I lived 
in Baltimore, and worked for the B&O. 

Hicke: You moved from Chicago- 
Stare: I moved from Chicago to Baltimore, yes. I don't know what actually 
got me drinking wine, but we lived--our initial house in Baltimore 
was right across the street from a very good wine shop, a gourmet 
market with a great wine shop. I'd go in there, and buy an 
interesting wine, and take it home, and I actually started 
collecting labels. I'd keep a little notebook and take the labels 
off the bottles and paste them in the notebook and then write some 
comments on them. 

Hicke: Would these have been French wines? 

Stare: Well, yes, some French wines. One of the ones I particularly 

enjoyed at that time was Almaden Mountain Grenache Rose. I'm not 
even sure if it's made anymore. I don't think Almaden is in 
business anymore, but it's a wine I thoroughly enjoyed, and yet, 
it's a wine, if someone offered it to me today, I'd probably stick 
up my nose and scoff at it. But, I still have that book around the 
house somewhere, and it's kind of fun to see a half bottle of 
Chateau Lynch-Bages, which I might have paid two-fifty for back in 
the early sixties, a half bottle of that wine today is probably 
twenty bucks a bottle for the current vintage. 

But, another kind of early influence on my life was a man by 
the name of Phillip Wagner. Phillip Wagner used to be the editor 
of the Baltimore Sun newspaper, but more importantly, for him and 
myself, he was the owner, winemaker, viticulturist of a small 
winery called Boordy Vineyards. Boordy used to be located in 
suburban Baltimore, and I would occasionally go over to his house 
and taste the wine and taste things out of barrels. I was just 
kind of fascinated with the whole idea, and actually decided to 
plant, in my backyard, forty grapevines. I think I bought forty 
grapevines, four different French-American hybrids, ten vines each, 
and I put them in my back yard. 

Hicke: Do you happen to recall what they were? 

Stare: No, I don't. One was a Rivat, I think 244, I think one was a 

SV13053, and there was a 5276, and the fourth variety, I forget. 
At that time French-American hybrids were called by their French 
name or they had their French name, plus a number added; 5276 was a 
well-known one. Since then, they've been given varietal names. I 


farmed these vineyards for two years, I also made home wine in my 
basement for two years. As a matter of fact-- [tape interruption]. 

[points to photograph] That is me, that is Kathy and Peter 
Harrington. Kathy was my first wife's roommate in college, and 
that ' s the only picture that exists of our first vintage of wine 
making . 

Hicke: Oh, you've got a barrel stand- - 

Stare: It's a barrel with an end knocked off, a hand crank crusher, and we 
are dumping in a load of some red grape. I'm cranking the thing, 
and Kathy is laughing, and Peter is laughing. 

Hicke: Looks like it was great fun! [chuckles] You must have bought the 

Stare: Yes. We bought the grapes. There were, at that time, probably a 
half a dozen commercial grape growers, growing French-American 
hybrids for Boordy Vineyards , and I bought a hundred pounds of each 
of them, or something, and made for two years what turned to be red 
wine vinegar. It was horrible stuff; it tasted terrible. I think 
the problem was I didn't have the right equipment, and I think to 
make good home wine, you've got to spend a few hundred bucks and 
make sure you have some decent equipment and know how to do a 
couple of elementary lab tests, and I had none of that. 

Hicke: You had fun though. 

Stare: A lot of fun, yes. And then, I began to lose interest in my job. 
I wanted to get into the marketing department, and I was promoted 
into the marketing department, and my new boss was a fellow, Earl 
Swanson, who, maybe I shouldn't say this--I didn't think very much 
of him, and I don't think he thought very much of me. 

Living and Working in Germany 

Stare: In the marketing department I began to become bored with my job and 
was kind of looking around for something to do, and one of the 
things I had always wanted to do, something that all parents should 
make their kids do, is spend a year abroad- -take advantage of the 
high school junior year abroad program. I never did, and I had 
always wanted to live overseas. My first wife's grandfather was 

Hicke: Can you tell me her name? 


Stare: Her name was Gail, her maiden name was Hugenberger. 
Hicke: And her father was German-Swiss? 

Stare: Her grandfather was German-Swiss. Her dad is a professor at 

Harvard too, of orthopedic surgery. When we were both living in 
Baltimore we kind of had this goal to ultimately live overseas, or 
at least, travel overseas for a while, and we took two years of 
night school German at Johns Hopkins [University] . 

Hicke: In preparation? 

Stare: In preparation. And then my father, for a while, for a number of 

years, was the director of the Continental Can Company, and through 
my dad--I remember one time asking dad, "I want to get a job 
overseas for a couple years, how do I go about it?" And, he said, 
"Write this guy, he's the director of Continental Can, European 
operation." I wrote him, and this fellow passed my letter on to 
one of his German associates. To make a long story short, I 
ultimately was offered a job as a marketing research analyst for a 
German steel firm that was at that time the world's largest tin 
plate rolling mill. 

Hicke: What company is it? 

Stare: Rasselstein. They offered me a job as assistant marketing analyst, 
and I jumped at the chance, and left my job with the railroad, and 
moved to Germany for two years, with my family. We lived in the 
town of Neuwied. 

Neuwied is a Rhine River town about an hour's drive south of 
Cologne, Germany. The large component of the town was this tin 
plate rolling mill. I worked for two years as a marketing research 
analyst, and thoroughly enjoyed it, and at one time spoke fluent 
German. Again, living in Germany kind of influenced my decision to 
get into the wine business. My boss was a German fellow, Herr 
Miiller, and he was an avid wine aficionado and was always talking 
about good wine. We'd occasionally go on business trips together, 
and he'd always buy the best wines, and show them to me, and let me 
taste them, and I became fascinated with German wines. 

Hicke: The Rhine wines, the Mosels? 

Stare: The Rhines and the Mosels. Neuwied is about a ten-minute drive 

north of where the Rhine and the Mosel flow together, and so it's a 
great place to visit vineyards in Germany. We were only about a 
three-and-a-half -hour drive from the Champagne district of France, 
and probably about a five-hour drive from Burgundy. 


One of my closest friends from my railroads days is a fellow, 
Peter Weber. Peter and his brother-in-law came over in about April 
or May of '68. 


Stare: Peter and his brother-in-law came over in about April and May of 

'68. We spent a week, Peter and his brother-in-law, my first wife 
and I, and my younger daughter- -we spent a week with them in 
Burgundy and Champagne, had a wonderful time visiting vineyards and 
wineries, then took one vacation down to Italy, spent a couple of 
days in Tuscany, and visited a couple of wineries there. 

Hicke: Piedmont? 

Stare: No, basically in Tuscany, where we were. 

Developing a Serious Interest in Wine and the Wine Industry 

Stare: But, you know, it just became more and more fascinatingthe whole 
romance of winemaking, whatever that is. My job was a two-year 
job, and in spring of '69, I decided not to renew my contract with 
the German company, and moved back to Boston. I resettled in the 
Boston area, and made the mistake, the fatal mistake, of taking a 
course in wine appreciation [chuckle]. 

The man who taught the course became a good friend of mine, 
Fred Ek. Fred is now one of the partners in our wholesale business 
in Massachusetts, which is one of the best markets for Dry Creek. 
Through Fred I developed some friends in the wine business, in the 
retail, in the wholesale, end of the business. 

In June of 1970, I spent two weeks in France on vacation in 
Burgundy and Bordeaux, visiting wineries. While having lunch in 
the town of Pauillac near Bordeaux, with a couple of retailers from 
Boston, and an Irish fellow who worked for a big Bordeaux shipper, 
I asked the Irish man, "Do vineyards and wineries ever come up for 
sale?" and the guy says, "Yes, as a matter of fact they do, and 
right now there are two fairly well-known properties that are on 
the market . " 

Hicke: In France? 

Stare: Yes, in Bordeaux. A place called Chateau Raussan Segla, and a 

Chateau Coutet, which is a Barsac wine. I came back from that trip 
and talked to a couple of friends who were in the business and 


ended up writing a letter to both of the chateaus, essentially 
saying, I represent a group of American investors, and we're 
interested in buying a vineyard in Europe, and I understand that 
your place is for sale, and what's going on? 

Hicke: Did you have a group of investors? 

Stare: No. Actually, I had a couple of friends who were kind of 

interested, but had no investors and no money. But from both of 
these chateaus I got a letter back saying, We were up for sale, 
we've taken ourselves off the market, here's our information kit, 
and if you are serious, we would entertain a serious offer. In 
both of them, I had a lot of fun looking through the inventory of 
the chateau and the vineyards and the winery, and decided I didn't 
want to move to France . 

About that same time, there was an article in the Wall Street 
Journal talking about California's grape growing and wine making, 
what a great future it had. As a result of that article, I called 
a fellow who had been a fellow classmate of mine in prep school at 
Andover, who was an attorney in San Francisco, a fellow by the name 
of Steve Adams. I called Steve up and said, "What do you know 
about the wine business?" and he said, "Not very much, but I've got 
a good friend who is very heavily involved in it." And he put me 
in touch with Lou Gomberg. I'm sure you've met Lou, or interviewed 
Lou. Unfortunately, Lou passed away a couple of years ago. 

Hicke: We do have a good oral history with him. 

Stare: Yes. Steve was interested in wine, and they were both lawyers, and 
Lou had founded some group called Lawyer Friends of Wine. Anyway, 
I called up Lou Gomberg. This occurred in August, September, and 
October of 1970, and I realized that I really wanted to get in the 
wine business. My wife was expecting our second child. Also, the 
company that I worked for, when I went to France, went bankrupt 
about a month after this trip. So I was essentially unemployed, 
and flirting with the idea of getting in the wine business. I got 
a job as a clerk in one of the better wine shops. I figured if I 
wanted to get in the wine business, it was not a bad beginning job 
to learn how to sell wine. 

Wine and Cheese Cask 

Hicke: Where was this? 

Stare: I got a job in a company called the Wine and Cheese Cask. 


Hicke: In San Francisco? 

Stare: No, it was in Boston. 

Hicke: Oh, okay, Wine and Cheese Cask. 

Stare: Wine and Cheese Cask was and still is one of the half dozen leading 
retail wine shops in greater Boston. Boston, fortunately, is an 
area today which is not characterized by chain stores, because one 
person cannot own more than one license. So, a company like 
Safeway could only haveif Safeway were a wine company, they could 
only have one grocery store that would have a liquor license, and 
all the other 200 Safeways couldn't have on. So, there are a few 
chains with liquor licenses, but one store is owned by Mr. Smith, 
one store is owned by Mrs. Smith, one store is owned by Mrs. 
Smith's brother-in-law, and that's how you get around the law, but 
you're effectively not a chain. 

Boston is one of the few areas of the country where there are 
still a lot of good independent wine shops. In California, people 
like Safeway and Albertson's and Beverages and More have driven the 
independent stores, a lot of them, out of business. But I got a 
job working for the Wine and Cheese Cask in Somerville as a stock 
boy, learning about selling wine in the retail business, and 
thoroughly enjoyed that. 

Hicke: Good experience. 
Stare: Oh, yes. 

Hicke: Can you give me an example of some of the things that you learned 
there that were really helpful? 

Stare: Oh, that the customer is usually right, even when he's wrong 

[Laugh] . You know, that you've got to give the customers good 
value, and be polite to them, and just normal good business sense. 

Hicke: So, dealing with customers rather than learning so much about wine. 

Stare: Yes, Yes. 

Hicke: But that's necessary! 

Stare: Oh, I think so, very definitely. 



Moving to California 

Stare: In November of 1970, right after my second daughter was born, I 

took off and spent two weeks in California. I met Lou Gomberg for 
the first time, went to the Wine Institute, talked with their 
people, went up to [the University of California at] Davis for a 
day, and talked to the people up there, probably went to Fresno 
State [University] , and spent a fair amount of time in Sonoma and 
Napa, driving up and down the roads, stopping and talking at the 
real estate office. I met a couple of bankers, met a fellow from 
Bank of America, and I think the Exchange Bank, and Wells Fargo, 
and essentially kind of made up in my own mind that what I really 
wanted to do--I was having my mid-life crisis earlywas come to 
California and get in the wine business. 

I went back home from that trip just before Thanksgiving of 
1970, told my family that we were moving to California. We put our 
house up for sale that we had bought a few months earlier, and I 
made several other trips to California, in the winter and spring of 
'71, out here. 

Studying Winemaking 

Stare: One of the trips was to Davis, to take a short course in winemaking 
and grape growing. 

Hicke: Could you say what kinds of things you learned? 

Stare: Well, as a result of taking that course, I realized that winemaking 
is a lot more complicated and a lot more scientific than what you 
had learned in a three-day course. I wanted to enroll at Davis, so 


I spent some time and talked with Professor [Vernon L.] Singleton, 
who at that time was the graduate advisor of the Viticulture School 
in Davis. He agreed to admit me as a special graduate student 
taking course work only; I wasn't a degree candidate. But I had to 
take a summer course in organic chemistry. The only college level 
course in chemistry I'd had was freshman chemistry at M.I.T., which 
was required for all freshman, and I took it in '58- '59, and here I 
was, you know '72, fifteen years later, and I had forgotten most of 

So in the summer of '71, the last summer I lived back in 
Boston, I enrolled in Boston University and took a course in 
organic chemistry. It was the hardest course I've ever taken in my 

Hicke: After coming from M.I.T. and Northwestern? 

Stare: Yes, it was the hardest course; class met Monday through Friday, 
8:30 to 12; labs, Monday through Thursday, 1:00 to 4:30. 

Hicke: Good heavens! 

Stare: BU [Boston University], at that time, was non-air conditioned; the 
East, back in the summers, as you well know, can be pretty hot and 
humid. It was a miserable summer. I ended up getting a "B" in the 
course, working very hard. After finishing that course, we finally 
sold our house, I packed my family, and we got in to our car, and 
we drove out to California. We spent two weeks on the way camping 
out, and we had a nice case of good Bordeaux wine to drink around 
the camp fires. 

Hicke: Beats those Conestoga wagons. 

Stare: You bet. You bet. I arrived out here sometime in August of '71, 

in time to start in the fall at Davis, rented a house in Davis, and 
I spent my first year there as a graduate student doing course work 
only in viticulture and enology. 

Hicke: And who did you take your courses with? 

Stare: Let's see. Maynard Amerine taught the sensory evaluation course, 
that was 125. Professor [Harold] Berg taught 126, which was wine 
stabilization, and Professor [A. Dinsmoor] Webb taught the basic 
introductory course in winemaking, 124. I think he and Professor 
[Cornelius] Ough co-taught that course. I also took Viticulture 
116A, and 116B, which are the two basic viticultural courses, which 
at that time were taught by JimProfessor Cook--and took the 
varietal identification course taught by Doctor Lider. I took all 


the basic required winemaking courses, plus organic chemistry, plus 
biochemistry and bacteriology. 

I had a pretty full schedule, and did well; as Jim Cook, who 
was one of the viticulture professors said, "How could a kid from 
M.I.T., who's an engineer, do well in ag[riculture] courses?" 
[chuckles] I was a straight "A" student, and he was amazed that a 
guy from Boston could do that well. But I thoroughly enjoyed the 
courses and found them challenging and demanding; I think that when 
you like something and you enjoy it, it becomes easy. It's the 
courses that you hate that you do poorly in, and the reason you do 
poorly in them is because you hate them and don't study. 

Hicke: Yes, you're not interested. 

Stare: The point is, you hate them. You don't study them. You go home, 
"I'm going to study this," you end up doing something else. 

Hicke: What do you think, in general, you got out of them? Of course, 

it's pretty obvious that you got a lot of specific information out 
of them. 

Stare: Well, you know, I got out of them a good, thorough understanding of 
winemaking. The fall of '72, when we actually made our first 
wines, we had nothing here, but I actually bought some equipment, 
and set it up over at Cuvaison [winery] , and made our first wines 
in the fall at Cuvaison. 

Cuvaison used to be owned by two fellows, Tom [Thomas H.E.] 
Cottrell and Tom [Thomas] Parkhill, who were partners. They had 
started Cuvaison, I think, in '69 or '70. I literally was standing 
on the wine tank, reading the book on the basic fundamentals of 
table wine production and doing what it was saying [chuckles]. 
Fortunately, Tom Cottrell knew what he was talking about. Bernard 
Portet, from Clos du Val, also had set up some tanks there, and 
Chuck [Charles] Ortman, who was winemaker at Spring Mountain at the 
time, had his tanks there. So, there were four wineries operating 
under Cuvaison 's license, doing their fermenting there, and, 
obviously, Bernard taught me a lot, and Chuck taught me a lot. But 
my first year was pretty much, you know, either friends helping me, 
or reading of the text book. 

Looking for Property in Northern Sonoma County 
Hicke: We're getting a bit ahead here. 


Stare: Yes. Okay. 

Hicke: While you were in California, and you were looking around for a-- 

Stare: Right, okay, we are getting ahead. Prior to enrolling at Davis, I 
probably made four or five trips out here. One of them was when I 
enrolled in that short course in the spring. On these trips, I 
would spend a week or two in Sonoma and Napa, and I made one down 
to Monterey, I think I made one to Livennore, and one up to 
Mendocino, looking at property and talking with the real estate 
people, and the folks at Davis. In the early seventies, it 
appeared to me that northern Sonoma County was the place to be. 

Hicke: Yes, why did you think that? 

Stare: In 1971, in northern Sonoma County, you only had about half a dozen 
wineries. In Dry Creek you had Pedroncelli [Winery], Frei Bros., 
Chris Fredson. Then you had Simi Winery, you had Foppiano 
[Vineyards], you had Italian Swiss [Colony] up in the northern 
Alexander Valley, that was about it. And yet, this is an area 
where, prior to Prohibition, there had been dozens and dozens and 
dozens of wineries. It just seemed that Prohibition killed them 
off, then the Depression came along after Prohibition, then World 
War II came but nothing brought prosperity back to northern Sonoma 
County. Yet there was a potential here. There had at one time 
been dozens, if not a hundred, wineries in northern Sonoma County. 
The first grapes were planted back here in the 1840s. People said, 
you know, that prior to Prohibition, Sonoma County wines were 
better known nationally than Napa Valley wines. It just had a 
reputation and history going back a long time, and it just seemed 
to me that there was a lot of potential here. 

Land, at least in the last thirty years, had traditionally 
sold for less per acre here than in Napa. I think when I came on 
the scene in '71 or "72, the going rate for undeveloped vineyard 
landpotentially good, undeveloped vineyard landwas in the two 
to three thousand dollars per acre range. Napa Valley, probably at 
that time was four to five. And when it became four to five here, 
it was six to eight there, and now that it's fifteen to twenty-five 
here, it thirty- five to fifty there. And so, the land in Sonoma 
County always sold at somewhat of a discount from Napa Valley 

Also, land was fairly readily available here. I think this 
area was settled possibly a little bit sooner than Napa, so you 
have more smaller parcels. And a lot of the first and second 
generation farming families that first started growing grapes here 
in the 1880s were interested in retiring; their sons had gone off 
to college and become doctors and lawyers and engineers, and there 


was a fair amount of property for sale back in the late sixties and 
early seventies at more affordable prices than in Napa. 

The area was only an hour-and-f ifteen-minute drive north of 
San Francisco--that was before the days of the big traffic jams, 
howeverand northern Sonoma County had the climate, had the 
geography, had the history, and was fairly close to the city. 
Sometimes I enjoy the citythe symphony, that kind of thing. This 
just seemed like the place to start a winery. 

Hicke: Did you study or evaluate the land and the climate? 

Stare: Oh yes, I spent a lot of time looking at the regions system 

developed at U.C. Davis, and I talked to the farm advisor, Bob 
Session a number of times. 1 remember meeting Dave Goode. Dave is 
one of the leading viticultural experts in northern Sonoma County, 
and actually, he came out four or five times, and dug holes with a 
back-hoe in various parts to check the soil profiles. 

But it just seemed that northern Sonoma County was the place 
to locate. I made offers on four or five ranches. The real estate 
agent that I was working with, I won't mention his name, but he 
turned out to be--he was basically crooked. What he would do is, I 
would spend a half a day with him, we'd drive around Dry Creek 
Valley and Alexander Valley, and I'd say, "Gee, that's an 
interesting looking place," [and he'd say,] "Yeah, that belongs to 
Old Man Smith. I heard rumors he's thinking about selling out and 
retiring. Let me go talk to him, and let's see what we can come up 
with." Well, he would go to Old Farmer Smith and say, "I've got 
this city slicker from Boston with tons of money," you know, "I bet 
you I could sell your ranch at two thousand bucks more than anybody 
else has ever gotten." 

It took me about a year to catch on to this, that that's what 
his technique was. But I spent a lot of time with him, and I made 
offers on probably about half a dozen parcels. I once had a loaded 
shotgun pointed at me. We had an appointment to see a ranch, and I 
showed up with the real estate agent and knocked on the door, and 
the guy came to the door, and the realtor said, "I'm George Jones, 
from ABC Realty, we have an appointment, I'm going to show the 
ranch to Mr. Stare here." The occupant disappeared and came back a 
minute later with a shotgun over his arm, and said, "You know, I'd 
kind of appreciate it if you left the property now." "No problem, 
sir, we'll call and come back later, no problem." 

Hicke: What was that all about? 

Stare: For all I know, the guy had a big marijuana patch in the backyard, 
or something. That never happened to me before or since. 

Hicke: That would be rather startling. 

Purchasing Dry Creek Vineyard Property 

Stare: But, to make a long story short, as they say, I found this 

property. After about a year of working with this agent, I began 
to get tired of him and stopped using him. 

One day, I was driving up Dry Creek Road, it was spring, about 
the latter part of February or March of "72, and there used to be a 
farmer named Paul Le Baron, a very well-respected, old-time grape 
grower. Paul was on his tractor, cultivating and disking, the 
first disking of the spring, and I stopped my car and watched the 
tractor come down to the end of the road. When he got about twenty 
feet from where I was standing, he stopped the tractor, got off, 
and came over, and started talking to me, and we chatted for about 
five minutes . 

I introduced myself, and I said, "I'm from Boston. I'm 
possibly moving out here. I'm a student at Davis. I'd like to buy 
seventy- five to a hundred acres of property, and I want to build a 
winery and make a great wine from Sonoma County grapes." And he 
said, "You know, I've got just the place for you. Mrs. Howe is a 
good friend, my wife and I had dinner with her a couple of weeks 
ago, and she was saying, "I'm thinking about selling my property,' 
Mrs. Howe's husband had passed away a couple years earlier, she was 
tired of living in the country." He said, "Let me get in your car. 
Let me go down and introduce you to her." He got in my car, we 
drove down, and he introduced me to Mrs. Howe, and she said, "Yes, 
I am thinking about selling." I gave Paul a ride back to the 
tractor, and came back, and we concluded the deal in five minutes. 
She was asking a reasonable price. I didn't get a bargain, but I 
wasn't robbed either; it was basically the going price, and we 
concluded it in about five minutes. 

Hicke: How much did you pay, can I ask? 
Stare: We paid $2,700 an acre. 
Hicke: And how many acres? 

Stare: Bought from her: fifty- five. At the same time, I bought another 
twenty-two from Mr. Honig, which is where my house is. 

Hicke: Oh, okay. So you bought seventy- seven acres. 


Stare: We bought seventy-seven acres initially, and paid for the house 
site, I think, $74,000 for twenty-two acres on a hillside lot, 
stretching up into the hills, with about eight of plantable land 
and about twelve acres of second-growth redwood trees in the back 
of my house, kind of a 1950s style house. It was actually built as 
a summer home. That's how I came to get this place. 

Hicke: What was here? 

Stare: What was here was a run-down prune orchard. Most of Dry Creek in 

the early seventies had been prunes and pears. There were probably 
800 to 1,000 acres of grapes, and probably 5,000 to 6,000 acres of 
prunes and pears, in what is now the Dry Creek Valley appellation. 

Hicke: I understand that grape growers took over the prune orchards 
because it was more lucrative. 

Stare: During Prohibition the grapes died out, along with a number of row 
crops; there was corn grown here, and beans, and tomatoes for a 

Hicke: Hops. 

Stare: Hops were a fairly big commodity for a while. That's why there's 
the old Hop Kiln Winery, and old Hop Barn, and there's still four 
or five others [hop kilns]. Chateau Souverain, when it was built 
twenty years ago, was built in the style of the classic Sonoma 
County hop barn. 

So anyway, hops were planted fairly heavily in the thirties, I 
think. I think what killed hops is that it is a very labor- 
intensive crop, and as people went off to war in the Second World 
War, there weren't people left here to farm the hops. So farmers, 
at that time, switched to prunes and pears; Healdsburg used to be 
the center of the California prune industry. 

The largest single building in town is the old Sunsweet prune 
dehydrator; I'm not sure what's in there now. It was for a while a 
wine warehouse, but it's a very large, strong building at the south 
end of town. There were four or five other independently owned and 
operated prune dehydrators and co-ops, and I think there is only 
one left operating in town. 

So this area was all prunes and pears, and now the only prune 
trees left are the few here and there. The same thing in Alexander 
Valley, the same thing in Russian River, and to a lesser extent, 
the Napa Valley too. 

Hicke: And Santa Clara Valley, and so on. What was here on this property? 


Stare: This was a fifty-acre, run-down prune orchard with an old prune 
dehydrator--they used to do their own drying here- -and a little 
house where Zita Eastman lives; that was Mrs. Howe's house. If we 
had been sitting where we are now in the spring of '72, we would 
have been in a run-down prune orchard. I took possession of the 
property, I think it closed on April 4, 1972. 

Building the Winery and Making Wine 

Hicke: And what was the first thing you did? 

Stare: I -originally wanted to build the winery up at my house. 

Hicke: Did building the winery come before planting? 

Stare: Yes. My original idea was to plant fifty acres of vineyards. 

That's going to give you, roughly, 200 tons of grapes, which is 
roughly 12,000 cases of wine. My original plan was to be producing 
about 10,000 cases of wine when our own vineyards came into 
production, and then, as they came into production, it would give 
us the ability to double to 20,000 cases. 

In 1972, I originally wanted to build the winery up at my 
house. We had a use permit hearing on the field there. The board 
of planning [the zoning board] approved the use permit, five to 
zero. Then the neighbors started passing a petition and created a 
hell of a stink- -mainly led by Jerry Lambert, who used to own 
Lambert Bridge Winerythat West Dry Creek Road is not the place to 
build a winery: too small a road, it was too narrow, too windy, 
you'd have major problems with sewer water disposal because of the 
low percolation of the ground, it was very heavy clay soils up on 
the hillsidejust not the place to build a winery. And, of 
course, I'd go around and get other neighbors to sign that they 
were in favor of the winery. I collected 200 signatures and the 
opponents had collected 200, and it was obvious that the winery 
plans were going to be delayed for a while. That's when I began to 
look around for a place to build the winery to actually make wine 
that fall, and that's when I went over and asked my friends at 
Cuvaison, Could I set up four tanks? and they said, Sure. 

Hicke: You bought those grapes? 

Stare: Yes, I bought those grapes. I had four tanks of my own, I had my 
own wine press, I had a couple other pieces of equipment, and the 
rest of the equipment I used, I borrowed from Cuvaison. In that 
fall, we made dry Chenin Blanc, Fume Blanc, which is Sauvignon 


Blanc, and Chardonnay. The reason we made those three white wines 
is those are my favorite wines to drink in France, in Europe, 

Hicke: Why did you call the Sauvignon Blanc Fume Blanc? 

Stare: It sold better. I can recall having luncheon with Barney Fetzer 
sometime about that time and talking about Fume Blanc versus 
Sauvignon Blanc, and he had told me that the reason he calls it 
Fume Blanc is that it sells better. He told me the story that when 
he first started the Fetzer Vineyards a few years earlier, they 
test marketed; they bottled the same wine, but in the morning it 
was labeled Fume Blanc, and if it was bottled after lunch it was 
labeled Sauvignon Blanc. They put the wines on a shop shelf, and 
the Fume out-sold the Sauvignon Blanc, three to one. 

Hicke: That's pretty impressive. 

Stare: And then they did some taste-testing with their taste panel, and if 
you're given glass A, and told that glass A is the Sauvignon Blanc, 
and glass B is the Fume Blanc, they liked Fume Blanc three to one. 
If you told them to tell them apart, people couldn't tell them 
apart. So, the name Fume Blanc tends to sell better than Sauvignon 
Blanc, and since, I guess, I'm basically a wine salesman, I wanted 
to sell wine, so I called it a Fume. Most of the leading Fume 
Blancs are called Fume Blanc: Mondavi, Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, 
Dry Creek. I think the only exception to that, really, is probably 
Kenwood, and possibly Murphy Goode, I don't whether they call his a 
Fume or a Sauvignon wine, but those are all well-recognized, high- 
quality brands, and I think Fume does sell better than Sauvignon 

Hicke: So you chose those wines because you liked them. 
Stare: Yes. That's basically why. 
Hicke: And how did you find the grapes? 

Stare: For the Sauvignon Blanc: Rich Thomas, who was from the Santa Rosa 
Junior College viticultural program, was a good friend, and he was 
a student at Davis when I was there, and I think I called Rich. I 
said, "Rich, who is a top-quality Sauvignon Blanc grower?" He 
said, "Joe Rochioli, best one around." I called Joe up and talked 
him out of ten tons of Sauvignon Blanc grapes. 


Hicke: We were just talking about Sauvignon Blanc grapes. 


Stare: Yes. Like I said, I called up Rich Thomas, who runs the 

viticultural program here at Santa Rosa, and he suggested Joe 
[Joseph] Rochioli for Sauvignon Blanc, Bob [Robert] Young for 
Chardonnay, and for Chenin Blanc, he couldn't think of anybody. I 
wanted a try at Chenin Blanc. Cuvaison always made Chenin Blanc, 
and I talked Tom Cottrell into buying an extra ten tons of Chenin 
Blanc from his supplier and selling us the grapes. In actuality, 
our '72 Chenin Blanc is the exact same wine as theirs: it was made 
in the same tank as the Cuvaison Chenin Blanc was made in. They 
made ten tons worth of Chenin Blanc for us. 

Hicke: Sounds like people are fairly cooperative around there. 

Stare: They were very cooperative. I think that's changed, somewhat. But 
Tom Cottrell is still one of my best friends; he lives back East, 
and I haven't seen him in a couple of years, but Tom's a good 
friend. So, anyway, that's how we bought the roughly thirty tons 
of grapes we crushed that year. 

The Chenin Blanc, as I said, was fermented and bottled at 
Cuvaison and trucked back here. In order to get a winery license, 
I had to have a barn winery permit. I had to bond the small 
farmhouse where Mrs. Howe had lived. The garage was our barrel 
storage area, we had about thirty barrels in there--Sauvignon Blanc 
and Chardonnay. We actually used the living room as the case 
storage area. I bragged that we had the only case storage area in 
California with wall-to-wall carpeting in it. That was our first 
winery. Then in the spring of '73 we began to build the first 
building here, which was the building you see when you drive up the 
highway, the one with the sign that says Dry Creek Winery, 1973. 
Even though we made our first wines in '72, that sign says '73. 

[tape interruption] 

Stare: That first buildingwe broke ground for that in about May of '73, 
finished it in August of '73, and that year also bought, I think, 
ten more fermenting tanks, another 150 barrels or something, and 
beginning with the fall of '73, made all the wines here. Made the 
same three whites, the Chenin, the Fume, and the Chardonnay, but 
also added red winesCabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, and 
also made a Rose of Cabernet, a pink rose wine. 

Hicke: Well, I have two ways to go: I want to find out about the 

vineyards and all those grapes, and I want to find out more about 
your winery and the kinds of equipment, and where you got it. 

Stare: Okay, we can talk about both. The other thing that had been done 
on this location is when I bought the property, as I said--I think 
we closed in April of '72--I made sure that Mrs. Howe and her son 


could continue to live in the house through the harvest of '72, and 
continue to farm, and keep the income from the prunes that were 
harvested in "72. They did that, and the prune harvest was 
finished here by about the end of August, and as soon as they 
harvested, we came in with bulldozers and bulldozed out all the 
trees, and ripped and fumigated the soil, and got it ready for 
planting. Then we made the wines over at Cuvaison, and built the 
first building here in 1973, which is a ninety-six-by-thirty-six- 
foot-square, concrete block building. 

I had hired an architect-engineer, Richard Keith and 
Associates. Dick Keith designed a lot of wineries; he was kind of 
the hot winery designer back in the early to mid-seventies. I told 
Dick I wanted something that looked like a French winery that might 
have been here for a hundred years, or an early stone California 
winery. His initial drawing was for a very modern structure, and I 
said, "No, no, that's not what I had in mind." Actually, I found a 
book on French wine and pointed out: This is what I wanted it to 
look like, and that's what he came up with. Although the design 
has never won any architectural awards, it looks like it's a 
building which has been here for a hundred years, with the ivy 
plant around it; I think it's very attractive and much better than 
something that is really ultramodern. 

Hicke: How much input did you have into the design, when you told him what 
you wanted, and then you approved the plans, and so forth? 

Stare: The actual winemaking layout, since I didn't know much about that, 
was pretty much his design, and I'm sure I got Tom Cottrell's input 
into it, and other friends' input into it. We moved in here when 
it was completed in August of '73, and the first official act done 
in the new winery was to bottle our '92 Chardonnay, which was 
barrel-aged over in the garage at the house here. 


Hicke: Tell me about the equipment. 

Stare: It was very, very antiquated bottling equipment. I think I 

borrowed from Cuvaison, and then we had bought a little, six- 
siphon, inexpensive, Italian filler. Our corking machine was an 
old, rebuilt, hand-corker, which you'd stand up, and you'd put the 
bottle in, and you'd drop a cork in the top, and ooooooooh! --you" d 
push down. 

Hicke: You'd push it down by hand! 


Stare: We would do about three hundred cases a day, and it was back- 
breaking work, physically hard work. We had a homemade sparger, 
which we made out of truck air brake parts, where you put the 
bottles on a tube, and you push down, and you press a little lever, 
and you squirt nitrogen into the bottle to replace the air-- 

Hicke: Somebody jury-rigged that? 

Stare: Yes, it was a jury-rigged thing, it was the same kind of thing that 
Cuvaison had used, and that was our bottling equipment. Labeling 
was all done by hand with a little hand labeler- -you'd run one 
label through, you'd pick it up as it comes out, and put the bottle 
in a cradle, and put it on by handvery slow, very antiquated. 

When we opened for business that fall, we opened with kind of 
a small tasting area. We had a woman here who used to tend the 
area on the weekends, and when there were no customers, during the 
weekend or the weekday, she would have to label bottles of wine. 
That's the way it was for the first couple of years. 

A Distinctive Label Design 

Hicke: Since you mentioned labels, this would be a good time to talk about 
your design. 

Stare: Yes. Our initial label was designed by the wife of one of our 
first grape growers, Rosinda Holmes, who was a well-known local 
artist here in Sonoma County. She lives about four doors from my 
house, and her husband is a printer, and he happens to have a small 
print shop in his garage; I think he's retired now. Rosinda was an 
artist, and she designed the first label that had a pen and ink 
drawing of the winery. 

If you look above, up on the beam, you'll see there is a 
progression of labels of every vintage of Fume Blanc, from '72 to 
the current one, which shows how the labels have progressed. It's 
very interesting. We had that label in '72 and '73, and then in 
'74, we redesigned it to eliminate the back label, and put the so- 
called back side, or b.s. information, on the front, and that was a 
description of the wine. We had that for one year, it was uglier 
than hell, and then we redesigned the label in '75, and went to a 
one-piece, wrap-around label, so that the mandatory information is 
on the front part, and the side would contain a little history of 
the winery, a story about the wine. We had the so-called wrap 
around label from about '75 to about '84 or '85, in one form or 


another. Then again, we had a pen-and-ink drawing of the winery, I 
think done by Rosinda Holmes. 

Back in about "84 or "85, we hired our first full-time sales 
representative) , and put her down in Los Angeles to help our Los 
Angeles distributor sell. Mary Jo got tired of hearing, "The wines 
taste great, but the labels are terrible; you've got to get rid of 
that ugly- looking building. It's a hideous label." That's when we 
began to realize we needed to make a change in the label. We had 
kind of nicknamed that label the Fort Apache label. One night, 
after several bottles or glasses of wine, someone said, "That looks 
like Fort Apache." It had a pen-and-ink drawing of the winery and 
a flagpole with the American flag flying from it, and grapevines 
kind of sprinkled around the field, around the winery, in artistic 
fashion. I guess to someone in a slightly inebriated state, the 
grapevines began to look like Indians on ponies [laughter] circling 
the western fort, hence, Fort Apache. 

Hicke: Strong stuff! 

Stare: Yes. So anyway, I hired a graphic artist, an illustrator, who came 
up with some designs, and he made, oh, six or seven or eight dozen 
different mock-ups, featuring, again, drawings of the building. 
There was a drawing of Lambert Bridge and Dry Creek here, a couple 
of drawings of Dry Creek Valley, and a couple of drawings of 
grapevines, but they all began to look like everybody else's 
labels . 

I said to Steve, "You know, my hobby all my life has been 
sailing." I haven't mentioned it before, but I started sailing 
when I was kid. "I have a sailboat on San Francisco Bay; when I'm 
not at the winery I try and take off and go sailing on the 
weekends. Let's try something with a sailing theme. I know 
sailing has got nothing to do with wine, other than the fact that 
in this case, the owner of the winery is also an avid sailor." 

So I gave him probably several boxes of back issues of 
Yachting, and Cruising World, and he took them back to his studio 
and played around them and made some sketches and drawings. We got 
together a couple of weeks later, and I said, "Hey, that's what we 
want; they're dramatic, they're bold." That's how the sailing 
theme evolved. I can recall, just before we launched the first 
label, that we ran a few little classified ads in the Wine 
Spectator. "What's a sailboat doing on a 'Dry Creek?' For further 
information call 707-433-1000. " 

Hicke: Oh, that's all you put in? 


Stare: Yes. We got a few inquiries. But when it came out, it was very 
successful. I remember getting a call from Bob Hoffman, who was 
the sales manager of Classic Wine Imports, our Boston wholesaler, 
and they were actually our largest single market. And Bob said, 
"Dave, the sailing label is going to account for about a 20-percent 
increase in the sale of your wine without any further effort on our 
behalf. People just love it, they pick it up, and they take the 
bottle home." 

Hicke: That is spectacular. 

Stare: So we have kept to that label since about '85. My daughter, Kim 
[Stare Wallace], came to work for me probably about '87 or '88. 
Her background: she studied fashion design and home economics at 
San Francisco State [University] . She worked for about three years 
as a frustrated dress designer and accessory designer, and 
production manager for a couple of ladies' apparel manufacturing 
companies in San Francisco, and then got fed up with a business 
where all they were doing was copying other stuff. She came to 
work for me, and she evolved our current set of labels in the last 
four or five years. But that's what happens when you get a 
frustrated dress designer who knows something about color. 

Hicke: Every winery should have one. Every business should have one. 

Stare: She began to develop; as we were saying at lunch, she now has her 
own business: Kim Wallace, consulting. She still does our 
marketing, but she's also doing some packaging consulting for other 
wineries. She's helping them redesign their label, redesign their 
image and logo. She's very good at that kind of thing. And that's 
the history of the labeling. 

Marketing and Distribution 

Stare: I used to do everything myself here. I not only made the wine, but 
I would bottle it, put it in back of the car, peddle it. For one 
of my initial sale trips to Southern California, Mike Richmond, who 
was at that time the sales manager of Freemark Abbey gave me a list 
of good retail accounts. I used this for my initial sales 
contacts. Chuck Carpy, Freemark 's general partner, was also very 
helpful to me as he helped me with some financial plans for the 
bank. I spent some time with Chuck, and he showed me Freemark 


Abbey's financial plans and financial statement; he was very openly 
sharing this information, and very, very helpful. 1 

Anyway, Mike gave me a list of all the top retailers --who was 
all right, who doesn't payand I used that as my initial selling 
tool. I can recall being down in Southern California once, and 
there used to be a chain of independent retail stores called King's 
Cellars. It was based out of Hermosa Beach; there were eight of 
them. They were owned by Stan Weller and his wife. 

They were one of the leading retailers of fine wine in 
Southern California. I remember having an 8:30 appointment with 
Stan. At that time we had a Camay Beaujolais, a dry Chenin Blanc, 
a Fume Blanc, and a Chardonnay for sale: three whites and a red. I 
showed them all to Stan, and he said, "Those are the ugliest labels 
in the world. I couldn't possibly sell those wines in my store. 
Don't waste my time." 

Hicke: Which labels were these? 

Stare: They were the initial ones, designed by Rosinda Holmes. I replied, 
"Well, sir, the wines are very good. Let me leave them here for 
you to taste and I will call you next week." Then I made a hasty 
retreat, shaken; what do you do when a guy tells you your labels 
look like hell? 

That evening I had been asked to speak to Nate Chroman's 
class. Nate used to be the wine writer for the L.A. Times. He 
taught a class in wine appreciation in Beverly Hills, and I was to 
be a guest lecturer. After the class, about ten o'clock at night 
I had not had supper yet, and I asked him, "Where is a place to get 
a sandwich, or something to eat here?" He said there was a very 
famous, all-night, Jewish delicatessen a half mile away. I went 
down there and ordered, and then went to the men's room, and by 
God, in the men's room was Stan Weller that I had tried to show the 
wines to that morning and who had told me what lousy labels I had. 

We were standing at adjoining urinals, "Hey," you know, "those 
wines actually tasted pretty damn good. Would you please send me 
ten cases of each." [laughter]. I was so pleased. This guy 
became a good friend. He passed away, unfortunately, a few years 
ago. But that was one of my initial sales successes in southern 

'See Charles A. Carpy, "Viticulture and Enology at Freemark Abbey," an 
oral history conducted in 1993 by Carole Hicke, Regional Oral History 
Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1994. 


Another one was Darrel Corti. Corti Brothers was a very 
famous wine shop and gourmet grocery store in Sacramento. And he 
was, for a long time, the only game in town for fine wine in 
Sacramento. I got to know Darrel when 1 was student at Davis. I 
helped organize a student wine- tasting society, and Darrel came 
over one night to address the group; Darrel is an expert in 
sherries and ports. He came over and did a lecture on sherries and 
ports and tasted some with us. When I introduced Darrel, I said, 
"This is Darrel Corti, one of the owners of Corti Brothers grocery 
store, a marvelous gourmet grocery store in Sacramento, which 
happens to have a very fine wine department, which Darrel has 
developed." He was almost upset that I called it a "grocery 
store," rather than wine shop, but it's primarily a grocery store, 
or was at that time. 

Anyway, he never bought our wine, and I can recall going over 
to see him one day to show him our first releases. He said, "Dave, 
I can't expect my customers to pay three and a quarter for Chenin 
Blanc. Chenin Blanc is a two-dollar-and-f ifty-cent bottle of wine; 
why are they going to pay you three and a quarter for it?" I said, 
"Darrel, I noticed you are selling frankfurters out there for $1.49 
a pound. Those are only supposed to be worth $.79 a pound. Wake 
up! There's inflation out there. You want to sell your hot dogs 
at a profit; I want to sell my wine at a profit!" 

He still didn't buy that evening. Darrel used to teach some 
wine appreciation classes down at Lake Arrowhead with the U.C. 
Extension service. One day he called me and said, "Dave, I want to 
get a case of your Fume Blanc,"--! forget the vintage. I said, 
"Great, great! How do you want to get it?" And he said, "Well, 
I'll be over in the Napa Valley. Leave it off at such-and-such a 
winery and I'll pick it up." What I should have said--see, he 
still wouldn't carry the wine. I should have said, "Darrel, why 
don't you go over to Joe's Liquors? They're the only retail outlet 
in Sacramento who buys the wine." [Chuckles] But I didn't. That 
was an example of some of the funny things about first marketing 

Oh, something else I wanted to mention: I mentioned earlier 
that our dry Chenin Blanc was the exact same tank, the exact same 
blend as Cuvaison's; it was bottled the same day, it was bottled in 
the morning and we bottled Cuvaison in the afternoon. At that time 
there was a wine writer, Robert Finnegan--this is a story I've 
never publicly told. Anyway, Robert Finnegan, who published 
Finnegan's Private Guide to Wine. He was the leading wine writer 
on the West Coast at the time. He was the Robert Parker of the 
West Coast, he was well known in the wine country. In about May of 
'72, he came out with some reviews about Chenin Blancs, with raves 
about ours as being the best ones in the '72 vintage, a marvelous 


wine, rich, complex, blah, blah, blah, just wonderful balance. I 
don't believe the Cuvaison was reviewed by him at that time. 

Well, we sold out of that wine pretty quickly after that 
review, and then we released the Fume in May of '72. In the July 
or August issue, he came out with a glowing report: "The "72 Fume 
Blanc, Dry Creek, best wine in California." Those two incidents 
put us on the wine map from an early start. I would much rather, 
as a new vintner, have a couple of roaring reviews than a couple of 
terrible reviews. I used to teach Basic Wine Marketing at Santa 
Rosa J.C. [Junior College]. I used to always tell my students: The 
most important thing, if you're a new winery, is make sure your 
first wine is dynamite and get some very good press on it. We were 
lucky, in both cases, to have great reviews on the wine. It got us 
off and running. 

Hicke: He didn't even mind the label, I guess. 
Stare: He didn't mind the label, no. 

Planting the Vines; Vineyard Management 

Hicke: Nobody did after they tasted the wine! Well, do you have any more 
stories, or shall we go back, because I still don't know about your 

Stare: Okay, yes. I mentioned that we tore up the trees in the fall of 

'72 and fumigated all the property around here. In 1973, I planted 
what we now call DCV number 3, which is across the creek; it's a 
twenty-acre block across the creek. That was planted ten acres to 
Sauvignon Blanc and ten acres to Chenin Blanc. The varieties, I 
chose; those were the ones I wanted to plant. I had Bob Session, 
who was the Sonoma County Farm Advisor, come out, right after I 
bought my property, and we inspected the soil and we had dug some 
holes. I said, "Bob, what should I plant here?" He said, "Well, I 
would put in Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, White Riesling, and 
Gewiirtztraminer . " Those were the hot, recommended wines. 

I said, "What about Sauvignon Blanc?" "Nobody plants that 
now. You don't want to put Sauvignon Blanc in, it's a bad wine." 
"What about Chenin Blanc?" "Oh, nobody's planting Chenin Blanc, 
it's a bad wine." So, I put in Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, 
Chardonnay, and Cabernet. I took two of his suggestions, and the 
other two I didn't take. 


My basic plan was to make a California version of what I liked 
to drink from France: Chenin Blanc, Fume Blancs (both from the 
Loire Valley), Chardonnay (Burgundy) and Cabernet /Her lot wines 
(Bordeaux). As it turned out, we had a hit with Sauvignon Blanc, 
as it has been our most successful variety. The initial plants of 
DCV3 was ten acres Sauvignon Blanc and ten acres Chenin Blanc. 

By about 1980, it was clear that Chenin Blanc couldn't be 
grown profitably on Sonoma County property, because the land was 
worth too much to afford to plant a grape that sold for four 
hundred bucks a ton. Fortunately, for people who wanted to make 
Chenin Blanc wine, the Delta area of Clarksburg, in Yolo County, 
over near Sacramento, has a wonderful microclimate and grows great 
Chenin Blanc, and farmers there can sell it for $300 to $350 a ton 
and make money and stay in business, and I can still make 
profitable Chenin Blanc, sothat's where all of our Chenin Blanc 
has come from, and where the vast majority, most of the better 
Chenin Blanc, grown in California, now comes from. 

The other vineyard we planted, in about the fall of '73, is 
what we now call DCV 4, which is a thirteen-acre block; it's a 
seventeen-acre parcel of land, and it has thirteen acres of 
Chardonnay, about a mile south of here on West Dry Creek Road- -2990 
is the legal address for the property. That was planted with 
Chardonnay in '73. Both of those vineyards came under production 
in '75. We began to use that fruit. The winery parcel here is 
known as DCV 2 now, and that was originally planted with seven 
acres of Cabernet and two acres of Merlot. That was planted in 
'74, started producing in '76, and by '78 or '79 it was very clear 
that the Cabernet that was produced on the property was superb 
Cabernet. Unfortunately, Cabernet was in great supply, and fairly 
low priced in '79, '80. 

Chardonnay was the hot variety, so 1 budded over five and a 
half acres in front of the winery to Chardonnay from Cabernet. 
This proved to be a mistake as the quality is only okay. It grew 
great Cabernet, but now we had five and a half acres of mediocre 

Hicke: What did you do about spacing and trellising? 

Stare: The spacing was a standard Davis eight-by-twelve, and the 

trellising was a standard California, two or three wire, vertical 
trellising, no exotic trellising. You know, everybody put in 
eight-by-twelve spacing, DCV 3 and A have solid set, permanent 
frost protection, and with overhead sprinklers. There's not enough 
water on this site for that, so here we have drip irrigation. 


Hicke: Tell me about your vineyard manager. 

Stare: Our vineyard manager, for the first year, was a fellow, Mike Rugge. 
Mike had been a student at Davis when I was there, kind of a part- 
time student. He worked for me for probably a year and a half. He 
eventually disappeared, and in about '75 the highly regarded Duff 
Bevill became our vineyard manager. 

Duff has since gone on; he is still our vineyard manager, but 
he has a pretty successful vineyard management company called 
Bevill Vineyard Management. He operates out of our facility; his 
office is down in our barn. He probably farms about four hundred 
acres of grapes now, of which Dry Creek is about a hundred and 
twenty- five. He's on our payroll, but he only works part time for 
us. Duff is very conscientious and very quality oriented, and as I 
say, he probably farms about four hundred acres, and we are 
probably a third of his total business. I think we are by far his 
largest single customer, and he's been with us since "75 or '76. 

Pioneering in Dry Creek Valley 

Hicke: You know, what we haven't gotten on the record yet is that there 
were no other wineries in Dry Creek before yours. 

Stare: Yes. When I came on scene in '72, there were three operating 

wineries: J. Pedroncelli up the street on Canyon Road. They were 
bought by the Pedroncelli family, I think, in 1927. There was Frei 
Brothers, which was actually right across the street; you can't 
really see it from this angle, but you can see when you go out in 
the valley. Frei Brothers is now the Gallo crushing facility here. 
They crush in one day of a week what it takes us a year for us to 
do. And the third one at that time was Chris Fredson, which, as 
you drive back into town tonight, is that dull, red, rusty, old, 
tin building off to the right, about a mile south of herevery 
picturesque, old, rusty, red, tin barn. 

I think that was originally built as the Healdsburg Wine 
Company, back about the turn of the century, and the Fredson family 
had a winery over in Geyserville, but when they built the 101 
freeway up here, back in the mid-sixties, they condemned their 
winery; the winery was unfortunate enough to be in the path of the 
freeway, so it was torn down, and they moved here, and they bought 
the old Healdsburg Wine Company. That operated as a winery until 
about five years ago, until it closed down. It's a very 
antiquated, old-fashioned winery. I think virtually all of their 
production was sold to Charles Krug over in the Napa Valley. 


Hicke: But all of these were here long ago. 

Stare: Yes. They were all here. I think I mentioned once that I looked 
briefly at Fredson Winery to buy it, to make it into a red wine 
barrel storage facility, but there were some problems with the 
disposal of industrial water. It was using an illegal cesspool; 
there was a big open pit in back, which you can dump water into, 
and it's grandf athered in as being legal, but if it ever has some 
major problems, they would condemn it, and there's no place on that 
property to build. I hired a civil engineer to look at it, and he 
said, "Dave, I wouldn't touch this place with a ten-foot pole, 
unless you can buy a couple of acres from your neighbors and put an 
actual, legal leach field in," which would require approaching the 
neighbors and asking them to sell me a couple of acres, or lease me 
land, so I walked away from the deal. It started being used about 
a year ago. I have no idea what the new people are going to do 
with it if their waste water system should fail. 


Hicke: Anyway, you built the first new winery in Dry Creek; that's what I 
really want to make clear. 

Stare: This is the first new winery built here, really since Prohibition. 
We started in 1972. Since then you have Preston [Vineyards] built 
in '74 or five, Rafanelli [Winery], who came along sometime in the 
late seventies, Mill Creek [Vineyards], Lytton Springs [Winery] , 
Mazzocco [Vineyards], Quivara [Vineyards], Domaine Schlumberger, 
Chateau Diana, but it's not really a winery, Farrari-Carano, whose 
showplace is up in the northern end of the valley. I think there 
are twenty or twenty-one operating wineries today. 

Hicke: Yes, the signpost pointing to the wineries is covered from top to 

Stare: 1 think prior to Prohibition there were about thirty. I always 
say, when I give a talk, that prior to Prohibition, there were 
thirty wineries in Dry Creek. I'm not sure if that's an exact 
number, but there were a lot of wineries here then, and in '72, 
there were only three. We were the fourth, and now there are about 
twenty. Again, all the prune trees have been torn up, and there 
are only grapes here. 

Hicke: No prunes left? 

Stare: No prunes left. There may be one or two, but virtually none left. 

Hicke: Well, you started something. 


Stare: Yes. And, you know, we went against what the farm advisor said and 
planted Sauvignon Blanc; the one white variety that Dry Creek was 
always known for, head and shoulders above everything else, was 
Sauvignon Blanc. I think most wineries would probably tell you 
that Dry Creek appellation Sauvignon Blanc- -that and Zinfandel, for 
red wine--are probably the two best varieties produced here. 

Sauvignon Blanc: The Dry Creek Flagship Wine 

Hicke: What are your goals for your Sauvignon Blanc? 

Stare: We want to make a Sauvignon Blanc that tastes like a Sauvignon 

Blanc. A lot of Sauvignon producers try to tame that grassy, wild 
character, and try to over-oak it and make it more like a 
Chardonnay than a Sauvignon Blanc. We want our Sauvignon Blanc to 
definitely taste like Sauvignon Blanc. Yet at the same time, we 
don't want to be overpoweringly aggressive, or over-aggressive; I 
think over-aggressive Sauvignon Blancs are not terribly appealing. 
There is kind of a fine edge there between making it taste like a 
Sauvignon Blanc, having a hint of that grassy, herbaceous, quality, 
and being overly soft. We wanted to have definite hints of that, 
without being overly aggressive. 

Hicke: I understand you are doing some experimenting. Can you tell me 
about that? 

Stare: We used to do no barrel fermentations here. I would say beginning 
in the late eighties, we began playing around with barrel 
fermentation, and now our regular production, our regular bottling 
of Sauvignon Blanc typically is zero to 10 percent barrel fermented 
with the remainder being stainless steel fermented. Our reserve is 
typically 100 percent barrel fermented. And again, our typical, 
regular Sauvignon Blanc was stainless-steel-tank-fermented and some 
barrel aging, but not a lot; we don't want the wine to have a woody 
characteristic. Our reserve Fume Blanc is barrel aged, barrel 
fermented, and very definitely woody; some would say it's over- 
oaked, I might even say that. I've never been a fan of over-oaked 
wine. On the other hand, I think when someone is buying a 
reserve- style Sauvignon Blanc, they want a lot of oak. But as long 
as people are willing to buy it, I'm willing to make it. 

Hicke: That makes sense. I believe there is a special wine, maybe 
experimental, offered to your wine club. 

Stare: Oh, that's the Wollcott Chardonnay, I think. 


Hicke: Well, I know that Fume Blanc is your most well-known wine. 

Stare: It's kind of a hallmark or benchmark wine. This year, just due to 
the fact that Sauvignon Blanc grapes were scarce, we actually made 
more Chardonnay for the first time, in '95, than Sauvignon Blanc. 
We've got, oh, about 450 tons of Chardonnay, and about 370 tons of 
Sauvignon Blanc because of the lack of grapes this year. 

Winemakers at Dry Creek 

Hicke: Well, let's go back and talk about your winemaking and about your 
first winemaker. 

Stare: Okay. Our first winemaker was myself. I made the wines, as I told 
you earlier, by reading the textbook and trying to follow what it 
said, with the help of Bernard Portet, Chuck Ortman, and Tom 
Cottrell. In '73, I was the winemaker, but I was assisted by a 
friend of mine, Tom Dehlenger. Tom, I think, had worked somewhere 
for a year or two as an apprentice. And he worked here for a year 
as my assistant, and he had a lot of input. He went on and started 
Dehlenger Winery, down in Forestville. In '74, I had a friend, 
Fred Brander, who worked here. Fred had worked for a couple of 
years at some other winery. Fred is an Argentinean-American. He 
was born in Argentina but was raised in this country. Fred, since 
then, has gone on to build Brander Winery down near Santa Barbara, 
in Los Olivos. 

Hicke: You trained and promoted a lot of other winemakers. 

Stare: Yes. In '75, I hired John Jaffrey as my assistant, and John, in a 
sense, took over the winemaking operation in the mid- to late 
seventies. I would say by about '78 or '79, he was the winemaker, 
and I became the winemaster. I think when you're on the road, 
giving a winemaker dinner or lecturing to a sales force, you're 
better off to be the winemaker or winemaster rather than the 
president of the company. So John made the wines, pretty much 
exclusively, from about '77 on. In '81, I hired a young kid out of 
Davis, Larry Levin, as John's assistant. In the spring of 1982, 
John Jaffrey left us and went to work for Zellerbach, and that 
opened up the winemaking position to Larry, who is our winemaker 
now and has been our winemaker since '82. He just finished his 
fifteenth harvest. 

Hicke: Tell me about his goals and working with him; obviously you've been 


Stare: Yes. One of the things I learned fairly soon in dealing with Larry 
is--and I used to do this with Johnto always kind of hover over 
him and make sure he does things my way. It was always very 
frustrating to John, and I tried to do the same thing with Larry, 
but sometime, I don't know, in '82, '83, or '84 Larry and I had a 
big fight, and he said, "Dave, if you don't leave me alone, I'm 
going to quit." I decided, Well, if I'm going to have a good 
winemaker on the staff, I've got to let him do his thing. I can't 
be telling him what to do all the time and rushing out there and 
saying, "Hey, you're doing it the wrong way; I want it done this 
way." So for pretty much the last fifteen years, I've pretty much 
totally withdrawn with the actual winemaking decisions, techniques, 
et cetera. 

I still determine the style of the wine: whether we're going 
to make an over-oaked Chardonnay or an under-oaked Chardonnay, 
whether we're going to add a new varietal, or whether we're going 
to make a Cabernet that's a lighter, more user-friendly style, or a 
more tannic, blockbuster style. Those are the things that I still 

determine, but I leave it up to Larry to do it. 

And, he's very 

Hicke: It seems you've established a well-balanced way of working 

Stare: Yes. It's worked very well, yet I had to learn this lesson, that 
if I didn't do that, I was going to lose him. 

Other Dry Creek Vineyard Wines 

Hicke: I've got a list of different wines that you've made. Can you talk 
about the Cabernet Sauvignon a little bit? Are you going back to 
making that again? 

Stare: Five years ago I would have said that we are 80 percent white wine, 
20 percent red wine. Whether it's due to the French Paradox [60 
Minutes program], or what, now red wines are much more in demand 
than white wines. Our production this past year was about 60 
percent white and 40 percent red; so we're shifting gradually, and 
I wouldn't be surprised if by the year 2000 we're 55 percent white 
and 45 percent red. Maybe in another five, maybe in about ten 
years from now, it will be maybe 50/50. 

Hicke: Cabernet Franc? 


Stare: Cabernet Franc. We crush in a given year thirty to forty tons; we 
used to have about four acres of Cabernet Franc up by the house, 
which we've been replanting, starting in the latter part of the 
eighties. Some people never really liked Cabernet Franc. I kind of 
like it, it has kind of an herbaceous, stemmy quality. Larry 
doesn't like it, and the rest of our staff doesn't like it, and we 
gradually cut back on our Cabernet Franc. I budded over the 
Cabernet Franc that was at my house two years ago to Merlot, which 
we like very much. 

We still have one contract grower we buy Cabernet Franc from, 
and I think the reason we buy it from him is we want to get his 
Zinfandel. I feel that whoever buys his Cabernet Franc is going to 
get the Zinfandel. His Zinfandel is classic, eighty-year-old, 
hillside, old-vine Zinfandel. That's the backbone of our Zinfandel 
program. Cabernet Franc is an okay wine, but nothing exciting. I 
happen to like Cabernet Franc, but most people don't. 

Hicke: Let's talk about Zinfandel. 

Stare: Zinfandel is a hot variety now, and when you consider that fact 

that there are probably, oh, not more than fifty thousand cases of 
really top-quality, red Zinfandel made in California, you can see 
there is room for a lot of growth there. The problem is, most of 
the really good Zinfandels are made from old, hillside, head- 
pruned, low-yielding vines planted prior to Prohibition, and yet 
these vineyards, by their very nature, are endangered species. In 
fact, our main Zinfandel supplier from the mid-seventies to the 
mid-eighties used to be a fellow, Jim Richwagon. Jim sold his 
vineyard about six or seven years ago to a fellow, Ron Martin, from 
southern California. 

Ron moved up here and realized he could not afford to own the 
property for what he paid for it by only growing twenty-five tons a 
year Zinfandel. So in about '90, he bulldozed out all the old 
vines, spent a lot of money trellising and terracing and replanting 
the property to Cabernet, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. He did put 
in a little bit of Zinfandel, but we had a contract to buy the 
fruit, and two years ago--it was last yearwe kept saying, "Ron, 
you're overcropping, it's not going to ripen up. By the time the 
sugar gets up to acceptable level, the acid will drop way out, and 
the ph will be way high." He said, "If you don't want the grapes, 
I can sell them to someone else." And I said, "Fine, sell them to 
someone else; let's try it again next year." Well, that winter, 
since we broke a contract, he went elsewhere; so we lost that 
vineyard entirely now. 

One of the things that Duff has done for us is he's spent a 
fair amount of time researching clones of Zinfandel. We've come up 


with a clone, which is called the Heritage clone. It's a clone 
that he's traced back to Italian Swiss Colony days, and we know it 
has been around for well over a hundred years. One of our contract 
growers is Richard Rued- -we buy Chardonnay from Richard- -and 
Richard had this variety planted for about fifteen years; we know 
it's a pretty good yielder, in terms of yield per acre, and it also 
has a lot of the same fruit and wine characteristics of classic 
Zinfandel, a raspberry, blackberry quality to it. 

We have seven acres that we planted last year next door, and 
we're going to put in another eight acres, down in Windsor on our 
new property. So we hope that by the year 2000, we'll have fifteen 
acres of our own Zinfandel, and that should give us probably 
seventy-five tons. When that comes into production, and if we 
continue on with the other Zinfandel vineyards that we have, we'll 
be processing probably two hundred tons a year of Zinfandel (12,000 
cases). Right now we are producing about a hundred tons (6,000 
cases). We can sell every bottle of Zinfandel we make. 

Hicke: Too bad there isn't some way to age the vines like you age the wine 
[laughs]. How long will it be before those new vines produce? 

Stare: Those rootstocks were put in eighteen months ago, and they were 
budded this past spring (twelve months ago). We'll get a small 
crop in '97 (ten tons). I'm looking for our five-year projection. 
In 1997 we'll get probably ten tons, and by the year 2000, we'll be 
getting, we figure, forty-eight tons. And we'll be growing about 
eighty tons of Zinfandel here ourselves in about five years. 

Hicke: Are you still buying from growers? 

Stare: Oh, we buy virtually all of our Zinfandel. As a general rule of 
thumb, we grow about half our Sauvignon Blanc, about half our 
Chardonnay, and about a quarter of our Cabernet. This year we grew 
about four hundred tons and bought about a thousand. 



[Interview 2: January 12, 1996 ]f# 

Expansion in the 1970s 

Hicke: Maybe we should just go back to the 1970s. 
Stare: Okay. 

Hicke: We actually got the winery built and the first vineyard planted, 
but maybe you could tell me about how the business expanded 
throughout the seventies. 

Stare: Okay, yes. For the first building we finished, we broke ground in 
May of '73, and finished in August of '73, and, as I think I said 
yesterday, the actual first act that we ever did here was we 
bottled our 1972 Chardonnay, and I think I described the very 
antiquated equipment we had. That winter, the building had twenty 
to thirty barrels in it; it was very, very empty. We actually, at 
one time, tied a clothes line across the building and played tennis 
in there one day, making it an indoor tennis court. 

Hicke: That's terrific. It's called "multiple-use." 

Stare: Yes, "multiple-use" building, yes. We added red wine production in 
the fall of '73, which was Cabernet, Zinfandel, Merlot, and I think 
we also made a Camay Beaujolais that year. We made a Camay for 
about four or five years, strictly as a cash-flow wine. And in 
'74, we increased our production still more. 

Now '74 was a particularly difficult year financially for the 
winery, because when I started the business, I prepared a five-year 
forecast, a cash- flow forecast, and we really didn't expect to have 
a positive cash flow until '76, or '77. We had a very hard time 
buying grapes. Grapes were at an all-time record high price in 


'74, and I really wanted to increase our Cabernet production, and 
buy some good Cabernet, and couldn't afford to buy it. 

So, I struck a deal with Frank Woods, who, at that time, had 
just started Clos du Blois Winery, to buy ten or fifteen tons of 
his Cabernet- -not pay him for the grapes, but to make the wine and 
bottle it and sell back to him; I think it was 25 percent or 20 
percent of the finished wine, and then he could put his own label 
on it and sell it. Well, as it turned out, the wine turned out to 
be superb wine, and the last thing I wanted to do was to sell back 
to Frank. I think in the last moment we came up with some cash and 
paid him in cash, but the wine happened to be a superb wine, still 
probably the best Cabernet we've ever made here. 

Hicke: This is in '74? 

Stare: Yes, '74. It came from his vineyard down on West Dry Creek Road. 
It just had a wonderful, rich complexity and nice character, and 
still, as I say, we probably have two or three cases in our 
library. And I still think it's even today, even though it's 
beginning to get over the hill, probably the best overall Cabernet 
we made. 

In '75, we expanded a little. Each year we added another tank 
or two or three and increased our production. In '72 we made about 
thirteen hundred cases, in '73, about six thousand, in '74, 
probably about nine thousand, in '75, about twelve thousand, and it 
now developed that we needed another building. 

A friend of mine, Dan Dehlinger, who's Tom Dehlinger's, the 
vintner's, brotherDan had gone to school at U.C. Berkeley and was 
interested in architecture and construction. He had had a business 
in Berkeley, buying old homes and renovating and fixing them up and 
selling them. He moved up to Sonoma County and built Tom's winery, 
Dehlinger Winery, [and] he built Tom's house. 

I approached him with the idea: why doesn't he build a new 
building for us as a contractor, even though he wasn't a licensed 
contractor? So we had the building designed by an architect, Dan 
Delia, who had worked on the original project with Dick Keith, and 
in the summer and fall of '77, spring of '78, we built the second 
building, which is the one that we're now sitting in. 

Hicke: That was the other building back there? 

Stare: The first building was there, and then the second building is the 
one where we are now. After this building was built, the complex 
was shaped like a "T." I kind of figured if we keep in the shape 


of a cross, if we could never make it as a winery, we could sell it 
to a church, and it would be a nice stone-looking cathedral. 

Hicke: Another "multi-use." 

Stare: Yes. We, actually, at one time, thought about putting a racquet 
ball court in here too [chuckles]. But we built this building 
we're now sitting in, beginning sometime summer or early fall of 
'77. Finished up in the spring of "78, and that became our white 
wine barrel cellar, bottling area, and our offices. Again, we 
continued to expand, and probably by "78 or '79, we were up to 
fifty, forty, fifty, sixty thousand cases. 

Every year we would add one or two or three tanks , and our 
production increased, still sticking with the same varietieswe 
didn't do too much experimentation with varieties. The Beaujolais 
we made in, I think, '73, '74, '75, and '76; because it's a red 
wine, we could have it on the market by about February or March 
following harvest, and it was strictly a cash- flow wine. In '76 we 
dropped that, and stuck with the same three whitesthe Chenin, the 
Fume, and Chardonnay--and the redsCabernet, Merlot, and 
Zinfandel, and a little of Petite Sirah, which we usually blend in 
with the Zinfandel. 

Continued Expansion in the Eighties 

Stare: But in about "81 or '82, it became apparent we needed a third 

building, and by this time, the winery had begun to make some money 
and we were reasonably profitable. We built our third building 
essentially in the winter of '84 and the spring of '85. That's now 
where we store white wine barrels in the basement, and the ground 
floor is where we have our bottled wine, our shop, and what case 
storage we do here on the facility. When we bottle we ship wine 
immediately to the Sonoma County Vintner's Co-op in Windsor, and 
right now, that's where we store virtually all of our finished case 
goods . What we keep here at the winery is only what we sell here 
in the tasting room. We probably have here, oh, five, six hundred 
cases, but down at the co-op we probably have seventy-five to 
eighty thousand cases now. 

Hicke: The ones you keep here are for sale here? 

Stare: Strictly for sale in the tasting room and a wine library we keep 


In October of '84, I spent two weeks in France with a wine 
writer friend of mine, in Burgundy, observing the harvest. She was 
doing a series of articles for, I think, Harpers Bazaar magazine. 
And one of the things that impressed me about Burgundy was that 
virtually all of the cellars in Burgundy were underground. I came 
back wanting to put in an underground wine cellar. 

So, we re-designed the building, and our bottling building now 
has a basement which is twenty feet wide and eighty feet long. We 
store some barrels down there, and have a wine library down there, 
too. I kind of wish I had made it the full basement. Our 
winemaker, Larry Levin, thinks it's a real nuisance because it's 
hard to get barrels up and down. We've got a trap door system, 
where we use a fork lift to raise barrels up and down. It's kind 
of pain, but it's also kind of nice, in a way. 

That building was built and finished in the spring of "85. 
And we continued to expand. And then, our tasting roomwhen I 
first started, our tasting room was just a couple of barrels by the 
front entrance, by the lab. 

Tasting Room 

Hicke: You had a tasting room right away? 

Stare: Yes. We started off with a tasting room right away, although it 
wasn't a room, it was just a corner of a cellar where we had a 
couple of barrels and a couple of bottles. It was very informal; 
we had nobody really working here as a tasting room person, 
although whoever was in the cellar, if someone showed up, would 
stop and pour the wine. 

I'd say by the mid-seventies, we added someone. We used to do 
all of our labeling by hand, and that person also put the labels on 
the bottles when they weren't waiting on a customer. 

But again, in the late eighties it became evident that we 
needed a more formal tasting room. So we built the current tasting 
room; that was built in the spring and summer of '89 and was 
actually inaugurated by my fiftieth birthday party, which happened 
to coincide with the annual dinner put on by the Sonoma County 
Wineries Association for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair judges. We 
probably had 120 people here in the courtyard for dinner. It 
happened to be my birthday, a lot of fun. 


In the wine business, you build a building, and then you 
immediately out-grow it, and I wish our tasting room was 50 percent 
larger than it is. It's adequate on winter weekdays, but during 
the summer and on the weekends, it's too crowded, too small. 

Hicke: The bar is beautiful, the way you've used the case ends from 
different wineries. 

Stare: Yes. That's very nice. A lot of those case ends--I mentioned 
earlier, when I first got seriously interested in business, I 
worked for a wine shop back in Boston. Most of those case ends I 
got when I was a stock clerk at this wine shop. Most Bordeaux 
wines are shipped in wooden cases, and we unpacked the bottles and 
put them on the shelf, and we'd have all this kindling left over, 
and I used to save wooden case ends, because I figured someday I 
could use them, and there in the bar there, we've still got some. 

Hicke: I've got a few I picked up too, some from Bordeaux. 

Stare: One of reasons that it's kind of fun to look at those is that quite 
often you'll see either my handwriting or someone else's 
handwriting on it. It'll say 12 times $3.99--$3.99 was the value 
of wine, retail value, and there were twelve bottles in a case. A 
Bordeaux you could buy, back in '69, '70, and '71, for four to 
eight dollars a bottle. Today, those wines are thirty to sixty 
dollars a bottle. 

Hicke: Or forty to eighty [chuckles]. 

The Nineties 

Stare: We kind of got off here. 

Hicke: We were building the tasting room, the new tasting room. 

Stare: Yes, anyway, we finished that in the fall of '89, and again 

continued to expand, and by the early nineties, by '92, or '93, we 
were beginning to lease space elsewhere. We needed to have more 
barrel storage, so we leased a warehouse in Healdsburg. It used to 
be part of the old J.W. Morris Winery, which had gone bankrupt or 
closed sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s. There were 
several large buildings which were fairly ideal for wine storage, 
and we leased one of those, and, for a while, stored all our red 
wine barrels in Healdsburg. It was a real nuisance in that we had 
to truck the barrels in; we'd fill the barrels here, load them into 
a trailer truck, truck them down there, and they have a fork lift 


down there. It became evident we needed to build another building 
here, but we had no place to put the thing. 

Along came my friendly neighbor, Dan Pedroni, who is a guy 
that, I guess, we had never gotten along with. I don't really know 
the source of our friction; I think probably it came back in the 
late seventies. Dan had bought or inherited this piece of property 
from his uncle, Alfonso. And when I bought the original ranch here 
from Mrs. Howe, she had told me that Alfonso Pedroni was interested 
in selling the neighboring parcel, the neighboring fourteen acres. 

I went and introduced myself to Alfonso, and he said he'd be 
happy to sell it to me for the same price that I bought Mrs . Howe ' s 
property for. I went back and had my attorney friend, Steve Adams, 
draw up a purchase and sale agreement, and I took it up the next 
week day to Alfonso. At that point he decided he wanted another 
thousand bucks per acre for it. I think I chased him once; I added 
a thousand bucks per acre, resubmitted the purchase and sale 
agreement, and he decided he wanted fifteen hundred dollars more 
per acre. I finally said, The hell with you. Anyway, Dan 
ultimately got the property from his uncle. I don't know whether he 
had inherited it or he had bought it, but at that time it was a 
prune orchard, and Dan put in grapes in the late seventies. 

He also wanted to build a house down by the creek, and he came 
to me and said, "Dave, I want permission to string power wires over 
your property." I said, "No, I'd be very happy to grant you 
permission to put them underground if you'd pay for the under- 
grounding, but I don't want wires running across our property." He 
got kind of upset, and I guess had to pay P.G.&E. to bring 
electricity in from the road, which is a lot longer run from Dry 
Creek Road to his house than from across our area. That's probably 
the original source of our friction. 

He built a very nice house down there, and was continually a 
pain, you might say. We'd have our Spring Open House, and I'm not 
sure whether he planned it or not, but he decided he'd be sulfuring 
the same day we had our Spring Open House, and clouds of sulfur 
would drift over onto our property; or he'd be disking, and clouds 
of dust came over. It seemed that he was out to annoy us. 

It culminated in about 1990 with the fact that we decided to 
expand our tank farm and put in some more tanks. At that time, our 
tank farm was twenty feet from the back property line. We 
expanded to within about six feet of our back property line, and 
built a wall and tank pad. I didn't really get the right use 
permits from the county. And Dan protested. 

We had it finished before the county could stop us, and we 
used it. We then entered a fairly protracted, long period of 


haggling with the county planning people and with Dan Pedroni. We 
were fortunate in that the zoning ordinance for here requires a 
twenty-foot setback in the front and backyard but only a five-foot 
setback in the side yard. 

We argued with the county that as far we're concerned, the 
front of this property fronts on Dry Creek Road, not on Lambert 
Bridge Road. If you agree that the property fronts on Dry Creek 
Road, then that becomes a side setback and the wall was legal. If 
you define the front of the property as being at Lambert Bridge 
Road, then the wall was illegal. Anyway, we eventually got the 
county to agree to allow it to stay put, and we were severely 
reprimanded for not doing things according to the way they're 
supposed to be done. 

Continuing the Dan saga, I'd say probably about '91, or '92, I 
got a call from an attorney friend of mine in town saying that Dan 
Pedroni wanted to sell his property, was I interested. And I said, 
"Yes." And he said, "Well, he wants $950,000." I thought, Well 
that's probably $150,000 more than it's worth, but I think it's 
worth it for me to buy it just to get rid of him. 

So we bought the property, in '91 or '92, I think, and 
proceeded to do a lot line adjustment. We annexed onto the 
original winery parcel about two and a half acres from Dan's 
parcel. We have right now, here in Dry Creek Valley, a twenty-acre 
minimum per dwelling unit to try to prevent mass development and to 
prevent suburbia from coming here. The winery parcel was eleven 
and a half acres, and the Pedroni parcel was fourteen and a half 
acres, and I wanted originally to join the two, and they wouldn't 
let us do that. But they did allow me to make the winery parcel 
the size of the Pedroni parcel and reduce the Pedroni parcel by 
that same amount . 

So we annexed a strip of land about 150 feet wide and about 
700 feet long onto the existing parcel, and then began planning to 
build two more buildings. We finished one this past summer, which 
is a 5,000 square-foot, pre-fab metal building, where we now store 
most of our red wine barrels. Either this year or next year, 
depending on how much wine we can sell, how much money we can make, 
we'll build another 5,000-square-foot building. These two 
buildings will then be connected with a 3,000-square-foot 
breezeway. So that will give us 13,000 square feet of barrel 
storage area. We moved most of our red wine barrels back to the 
location here. We still have a few hundred in town, and now we'll 
get everything on site here, which is one of our goals. 

Hicke: Okay, so that's the property expansion. 


Stare: Our file at the planning department has always been kind of screwed 
up, as far as I'm concerned. They used to have a planner by the 
name of Lloyd Johnson. Lloyd was a very nice fellow, he loved good 
wine, but he seemed to always have a personal vendetta in for Dry 
Creek, because he wanted us to pave everything. He wanted the 
parking lot to be paved, the driveway to be paved. 

I said, "Lloyd, people don't want to come to the wine country 
and see paved roads. They want gravel road, they want dirt roads, 
they want to get their feet dirty." 

And then he would say, "Well, what about the people stepping 
in puddles of water during the winter, and getting their feet wet?" 
And I said, "Well, that should be my decision as a businessman; if 
I want them to get their feet wet, that's my prerogative. 
Obviously, I don't want to spend the money to pave." 

"Well, what about the dust?" I'd say, "Fine, who's 
complaining about the dust? The grapevines certainly don't 
complain. When you have some neighbors who are legitimately 
complaining about dust, then it should become an issue, but as long 
as nobody is complaining about it, it's not an issue." 

Anyway, Lloyd passed away in the late seventies, and I think 
he had probably taken our file home from the County Planning 
Department to study it. It was home when he passed away. Anyway, 
when we went back to build our bottling area in '83, they had no 
record of Dry Creek ever having had a file. They couldn't find it, 
and we had to make photocopies of some of the department documents 
in our file of our original use permits and the subsequent 
additions . 

Eventually when we built our last building, the tasting room, 
they slapped a maximum size of 120,000 cases a year being able to 
be made in this facility, and actually in '91 we produced a little 
bit over that. But we've been averaging 110,000 to 115,000 cases 
of wine at this facility since about 1991. Our plan for the future 
is probably stay at that level [for a while], but gradually to grow 
up to 150,000. 

We would have to get the use permit amended if we wanted to do 
it legally. The planning process is so much hocus-pocus, it's 
ridiculous. They make it so hard. I know that half the wineries 
in Sonoma County don't go through the Wine Department when they do 
something, they just go ahead and do it. 

Hicke: How do you arrive at the number of cases to produce? Is that a 
financial decision, or quality-control decision, or a grape- 
availability decision? 


Stare: All of the above. I can recall the Thanksgiving of 1974, I got a 
call from Maynard Amerine at homewe had just finished 
Thanksgiving dinner- -say ing he wanted to come visit the winery 
Friday morning and bringit was either Ernest or Julio Gallo, one 
of the Gallos. They wanted to see the winery, and I said, "Okay, 
I'll see you tomorrow morning at 8:30." So I left my house, drove 
back down here, and spent an hour or so sweeping the winery out and 
making sure the bathroom was clean, making sure we had clean 
glasses, and generally straightening up. 

I was down here bright and early Friday morning, and sure 
enough, Mr. Gallo drives up in what looked like a mile- long, 
hearty-burgundy-colored Cadillac limousine. The chauffeur steps 
out and opens the door, and Maynard gets out, and Mr. and Mrs. 
Gallo, and again, I'm not sure whether it was Julio or Ernest. I 
showed them around the winery, and we tasted a few wines. They 
were here for probably forty-five minutes. And then Mr. Gallo 
says, "Dave, what's your current production, and what are your 
plans?" I said, "Well, our current production is 8,000 cases, and 
our plan is to grow to twenty." He said, "You're not going to want 
to stop at twenty; believe me, we've been through it." [Chuckles] 

So, to answer your question, how did we arrive at 120,000 
cases, I don't really know. That's what the county has slapped 
upon us, and we've been at that production level for the last four 
or five years. I think part of the reason we've been staying at 
that level is our principle banker is Pacific Coast Farm Credit, 
and they have been harping for the last three or four years, "Dave, 
you've got to stop growing in cases. Raise your prices, but don't 
grow in the number of cases." Our increased revenue, in the last 
few years, has been generated by selling more cases at the same 
price. They say, You've got to raise your prices. We've been on a 
concerted effort in the last couple of years to increase our 
margins, and when you increase your prices, that tends to slow down 
your increase in sales. 

But I think for the next year or two, we'll stay at roughly 
our current size. I wouldn't be surprised if by the year 2000, or 
shortly into the next decade, we'll be up to 140, 150,000. 
Certainly the demand is there. I've been going over allocations of 
our reserve Merlot and Zinfandel the last couple of days with Gary, 
and we could easily sell double or triple the amounts of those 

Hicke: Okay, so the demand- 
Stare: Demand. Demand is definitely there, and it's funny, since being in 
business in '72, every year we've had an increase in sales, even in 


the years when the wine industry had a downturn. Our 199A results 
were about 27 percent above '93 in terms of total sales and 
revenue. I figured when I did our sales projections a year ago for 
'95, I thought we'd be down about 7 percent, just because of lack 
of inventory. And we were up another 6 percent. For '96, I think 
we'll be up a little bit, say 5-10 percent; in '97, we may have to 
fall back just because of not having the wine to sell, that depends 
upon the 1996 harvest. The demand is definitely there now. 

Hicke: Have you ever thought of going public, or being bought out? 

Stare: Yes, yes, but not really. 1 would say six times a year I get a 

telephone call or a letter from a real estate agent. I used to get 
it from Lou Gomberg before he passed away. Lou used to represent 
the big buyers if someone wanted to get into the wine business 
with lots of money, they'd hire Lou to find them a property. I 
would say six times a year I would get what I would call a serious 
sales solicitation for someone wanting to buy the winery. "Dave, 
I've got a European investor who wants to buy a winery in, roughly, 
the 100,000 case range. Dry Creek is on the list of properties 
he's interested in. Are you interested in selling?" Usually, I 
say, "No, not really." Occasionally, I say, "How much has he got 
available?" [Laughter] 

Hicke: Depending on what the day looks like! 

Stare: Yes, I mean, everything's for sale at a price. But to answer your 
question, no, we're not seriously for sale. Obviously, if someone 
came along and offered double what I think the place is worth, then 
I'd be a fool not to sell. On the other hand, I'm very happy, it's 
a fun business, I still enjoy it. I feel fortunate that my oldest 
daughter is active in the business and is very good, and I think 
she will ultimately have the ability to take over and run the 
property, run the winery. I suppose if she were not interested in 
it, I mean, I'm fifty-six, and I'm approaching the time that, I 
guess, a lot of successful businessmen think about slowing down and 

Hicke: Or sailing. 

Stare: Or sailing. Yes, well, I've also been bitten by the golf bug, and 
I wouldn't mind living in Florida a few months of the year and 
being able to golf and sail down there. But as I said, we're not 
really for sale. 

Growth of Vineyards 

Hicke: Let's go back and review the vineyards, just to put it all 

Stare: The initial seventy-seven acres of property that I bought, I 

planted out to Just a shade less than fifty acres of vineyard. In 
'73, we planted DCV 3 and DCV 4, which was a twenty-acre block and 
a fifteen-acre block. DCV 3 was originally planted to half 
Sauvignon Blanc and half Chenin Blanc, the two varieties that the 
local farm advisor didn't want planted out here. And in DCV 4, we 
put in about thirteen acres of Chardonnay. And then, in '74, this 
property, the winery parcel, was plantedthat "s called DCV 2--it 
was planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. That was all the 
planted acreage. In 1984 or '85, Dan Pedroni, my neighbor whom I 
never got along with, owned a thirty-five-acre parcel in the 
Alexander Valley, and it came up for sale, and I bought it. Even 
though Dan and I couldn't get along, I bought everything Dan's ever 
owned out here. 

Hicke: Yes! [Laughter] 

Stare: We bought that in I think '84, or '85, and when we bought it, it 
was planted to twenty acres Chenin Blanc, and ten acres of 
Chardonnay. By this time it was apparent that with Chenin Blanc, 
you just couldn't make the profit as well here. You can't afford 
to keep land that's worth 20,000 bucks an acre tied up in growing a 
grape which is worth 400 dollars a ton, certainly when you can buy 
the grape from the Sacramento area at that price and make good wine 
from it. 

So we bought it and converted that vineyard to fifteen acres 
of Chardonnay, and fifteen acres of Sauvignon Blanc. That got our 
total vineyard acres up to about eighty acres. We had started with 
fifty, and we bought thirty over there, which makes it up to 

I had up by my house, which is a mile south of here on West 
Dry Creek Road, a twenty- two-acre parcel, of which there was about 
seven or eight acres of open meadow in the front of the house which 
I had never bothered to plant. Sometime in late "84, '85, we 
decided to go ahead and plant that. We planted that originally to 
two acres of Merlot and about five acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and 
about an acre and a half of Cabernet Franc. 



Stare: That was planted sometime in '84 or '85. Then we bought Pedroni's 
property in about '91. That had about eleven acres of vineyard on 
it. When we bought it, it came with about three acres of 
Chardonnay and about eight acres of Zinfandel, although most of the 
Zinfandel was the Davis clone, which was developed by Davis fifteen 
years ago; it has very big bunches, more suitable for white 
Zinfandel than red Zinfandel- -we had no desire to make white 
Zinfandel. And when we bought it, we knew that it had phylloxera, 
so we had to replant it. Two years ago, we tore out the old Davis 
clone of Zinfandel, fumigated the soil, and replanted it last year 
to the so-called Heritage clone of Zinfandel; I think I talked 
about it yesterday. That will come into production, hopefully, 
next year. That got our vineyard acreage up to just about a 
hundred acres, with the addition of that piece. 

This past summer we bought a thirty-seven-acre dairy ranch in 
Windsor, and I'm in the process of planting. When that's fully 
productive, we'll have probably 135 acres of vineyard. That will 
be planted the spring of '96 to about twenty acres of Sauvignon 
Blanc and about five acres of Merlot. And then there's about nine 
acres on that ranch, which because it was dairy ranch, the actual 
pen, where the cows are kept penned up, the levels of cow shit 
[chuckles] -- 

Hicke: Fertilizer! 

Stare: Fertilizer, yes! Too rich, too fertile, and we have to let that 
land lie fallow for two or three years before we can plant it. 
It's too rich for grapes, and we'll hold off planting that for a 
couple of years, and hopefully the levels of uric acid and other 
stuff in there will drop to a level where it won't be harmful to 

I think one of the mistakes that I made in this business was 
when we became profitable during the early to mid-eighties, I was 
not terribly aggressive in buying additional vineyard property. I 
remember looking at one absolutely gorgeous, forty-acre parcel on 
hillside property on Dry Creek Road, about two miles north of here. 
That came up for sale, and I think they were asking $14,000 an acre 
for it. I thought, I'm not going to pay that, that's too damn 
much; I'm not going to pay fourteen grand. Now it's worth twenty- 
five grand. There have been two or three incidents like that, 
where I thought property was just overpriced, and I wasn't willing 
to pay the price, but now I kick myself for not having done it 
because it's worth twice as much. 

Hicke: So you buy a lot of grapes, as you've said. 


Stare: Yes. I think one of our, let's say, potential weaknesses is that 
we are dependent for about two-thirds of our grapes on outside 
contractor growers. 

Hicke: How much is that? 

Stare: We grow, right now- -well probably not right now because we've got 
some land out of production due to phylloxera replanting--we 
normally grow about a third of our grapes. I think when the 
Windsor parcel is in production, we'll probably grow, oh, I'll have 
130 acres of vineyard, so we'll probably grow close to 40 percent 
of our own grapes, if we stay at the 120,000 case level. If good 
vineyard parcels become available at a price that's at all 
justifiable economically, we'll be interested in buying them. 

One of the main changes that has occurred in the wine industry 
over the last twenty-five years is that when I started, the people 
who were getting involved were the people that were interested in 
wine and had a little bit of money to play with. I started the 
winery with money that I had inherited from my mother when she 
died. I did not have vast sums to work with. I went into the wine 
business to make money. There's a joke that's told amongst 
vintners: the way to make a little bit of money in the wine 
business is you start off with a lot of money, and get into the 
business, and then make a little bit of money. That, to a large 
extent, is true. 

When you look at a lot of the wineries that have been built 
over the last ten to fifteen years, they have been started by 
people who have made a ton of money doing something else. 

For my way of thinking, I want to make money in this wine 
business, and I'm competing with people who have a lot more 
resources, which makes it harder for us. I think a lot of vintners 
who started up in the early-to mid-seventies were people like 
myself, who enjoy wine, who had a little bit of money to play with, 
as opposed to people today who are getting in the business like 
Joe Montana just bought a 500-acre ranch up in the Knight's Valley. 
He supposedly wants to ultimately plant a Merlot vineyard and have 
a Montana Merlot, and I'm sure Joe has got tons of money to play 

Hicke: To lose. 

Stare: Yes, to lose, and I don't have tons of money to lose. 

Hicke: There's a difference in making a living and having a hobby. 


Stare: Yes. A lot of the more recent wineries are more hobbies than 
making a living. 

Working With Growers 

Hicke: Let me ask you a little bit about your relationship with growers. 
As you expanded your vineyards, you had to expand your numbers of 

Stare: Most of our growers we have been buying from for a long time. We 
have about twenty, twenty-five outside contract growers, most of 
them under what we call a three-year, evergreen contract, which 
means that unless either side notifies the other side of a desire 
to terminate the contract, it automatically extends for one more 
year. And if either side wants to terminate the contract, they've 
got to give written notice sent by registered mail before the end 
of the year, and upon notification, the winery is obligated to buy, 
and the grower is obligated to sell the grapes for two more years. 
We just were notified that one of our contract growers that we've 
buying from since the mid-seventies did desire to terminate the 
contract. But he's obligated to sell us grapes in '96 and '97, 
according to the terms of the agreement. 

One of the other things that's kind of unique about our 
contractmaybe not--is the contract contains a formula for setting 
the price of grapes. It is based upon the annual grape crush price 
report. We just finished a report that shows that we bought 5.7 
tons of Cabernet at 1,500 bucks a ton, 28.4 tons of Cabernet at 
1,450. These are all summed by the State Department of 
Agriculture, and they publish a final grape price report, which 
lists the Sonoma County average for Cabernet and gives how many 
tons were sold at what price. You have a whole range of prices. 
It doesn't say who paid it- -that information is confidential- -but 
you see a whole price spectrum, you know, .2 percent of the 
Cabernet in Sonoma County sold for 2,000 bucks a ton. And 1.2 
percent was sold at 1,900 dollars a ton. 

Our grape pricing is based upon the average Sonoma County 
price for that grape. In other words, I paid, in 1995, for most of 
our Sauvignon Blanc, a price based upon the 1994 average price. 
That is known in March- -the report comes out in March of the 
following year. So when the 1995 report comes out in March '96, 
our growers will know what they're going to get paid for the 
grapes. They can't come to me and say, "Dave, I think they are 
worth a hundred bucks more per ton." And I can't go them and say, 


"George, I think they are worth a hundred bucks less per ton." It 
takes the haggling out of it which is good; I don't like to haggle. 

Hicke: If all the contracts are based on this sort of thing, how does it 

Stare: Well, right now there is a shortage of grapes because of 

phylloxera, and the price of Sauvignon Blanc probably may go up a 
hundred bucks a ton this year. 

Hicke: But how could it if it's based on last year's average? 

Stare: As the average moves, so does our price but with a one year delay. 
Over the life of the contract it averages out to be fair. 

Hicke: Oh, okay, I thought this was general. 

Stare: No, no. I'm sure this one grower notified us because he feels that 
in '96 and '97, the price per ton is going to be higher than what 
we've been paying for it. But I still think the system works. 
When grape prices are going down, and '91, '92, '93 grape prices 
gradually drifted downward, we tended to overpay for the grapes. 
The price one year was 750, the next year was 725; we paid 750. 

I think, over a ten- or fifteen-year period, it'll average 
out. But I think growers tend to be a little bit short-sighted 
when they hear that their neighbor is getting a hundred bucks more 
per ton- -they want that. They're willing to forget the fact that 
when everybody else was depressed, they got paid more. We've got 
to get together with this grower, and we'll probably end up 
renegotiating the price upwards somewhat. 

You always hear horror stories. Back in the early seventies, 
I think this was one of the reasons why Windsor Vineyards, Rodney 
Strong, went out of business, and went bankruptthey got locked 
into some very high, long-term, grape purchase contracts, and 
agreed to pay 1,000 bucks a ton for Chardonnay and Cabernet, when, 
in fact, the average price was 500 bucks a ton. 1 They just couldn't 
live with that. I want to avoid that kind of pitfall. 

But a lot of our contract growers are friends, a couple of 
them are reasonably close friends: Dr. Zielger, Dave Olson, Charles 
Green. They come to dinner at my house, I go for dinner at their 

'See "Rodney Strong Vineyards: Creative Winemaking and Winery 
Management in Sonoma County," an oral history conducted in 1993 by Carole 
Hicke, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley, 1994. 


house, we're good friends. Some of them are more strictly a 
business transaction, but all of them, I think, are very good 
people, they're quality-oriented growers, and they do a good job. 

There used to be a wine writer, Alexis Lichine, a French- 
American who was very influential- -one of the first people who 
really started writing about wines back in the fifties, and one of 
the first wine books I ever bought was his Wines of France. It is 
a wonderful book. He talks a lot in there about estate bottling, 
saying that estate-grown grapes are far superior to non-estate- 
grown grapes. I don't believe that. I think that there are good 
growers out there, and there are not-so-good growers, and a good 
grower can do just as well. Maybe the estate-bottled wine you can 
sell for a dollar or two more a bottle, but it doesn't necessarily 
mean that it ' s a better wine than something that's not estate- 

As you know, there are wineries that own all their own 
vineyards. One that comes to mind--I won't mention the name--a 
friend of mine used to be the winemaker there, and his boss was 
always complaining, "How come we don't win a gold medal at the 
Sonoma County Harvest Fair? Why don't we win a gold medal at the 
L.A. County Fair?" And my friend answered back, "Well, the reason 
is you make me use all these grapes, and frankly, out of the 400 
tons of Chardonnay grapes we grow, we've got 100 tons of very good 
Chardonnay grapes, 200 tons of good Chardonnay grapes, and 100 tons 
of terrible Chardonnay grapes, but you make me use it all!" So 
being estate-bottled doesn't necessarily mean good. 

Hicke: Yes. Good point. 

Stare: Have I talked enough about growers? 

Hicke: Yes. There's only one further question, which maybe has more to do 
with winemaking; I understand that you like a diversity of 
vineyards for blending. 

Stare: Yes. One of the things that we do is we buy grapes from Grower 
George, Grower Pete, Grower Dan, Grower Phyllis, and they're all 
fermented and barrel-aged separately. So we have at any one time 
twenty- five different lots of Chardonnay, twenty- five different 
lots of Sauvignon Blanc, fifteen different lots of Cabernet, and 
they're all held separately, and you begin to pick up the 
individual characteristics of those vineyards. 

If there is a vineyard that is continually weak, we try to get 
our vineyard manager involved, and help the grower. Maybe we 
should try a different fertilizer program, or maybe more leaf 
thinning, or more of this, or more of that. Our policy is to work 


with the grower, have him improve his quality, and if we ultimately 
can't do it, then we will stop buying from him. 

We had one grower, whom I will not mention by name, who owned 
what should have been, at least on paper it looked that way, a 
superb Cabernet vineyard. On a hillside, it was one of the oldest 
plantings in Dry Creek Valley. The vineyard came up for sale ten 
or twelve, maybe fifteen years ago; we looked at it, actually made 
an offer on it, which was rejected as being too low. It was bought 
by someone else, and I figured Hey, if they're going to buy the 
vineyard, we'll buy the grapes. We'll get what we want without 
having to have our money tied up in the vineyard. 

As it turned out, the vineyard was a terrible vineyard. They 
were the worst grapes of that variety, and for a while, they were a 
fairly significant part of our production of that varietal. 
Probably the quality of that varietal suffered because we used 
those grapes. We worked with it for four or five years, and got 
people over from Davis to try and improve it, but couldn't do 
anything, couldn't change, and so we stopped buying from them a few 
years ago. 

Hicke: Was it the soil or the grapes? 

Stare: Nobody knows, nobody knows. In the grapes, when they reached the 
desired level sugar maturity, the acid was very low, the ph was 
very high, and it just made a very flat, insipid wine; nobody 
really knows why, but we tried many things to improve the quality. 

Hicke: Well, you were lucky on that one! 

Stare: And that's why I say though, owning your vineyard doesn't 
necessarily mean it's better. 

Don Wallace 

Hicke: That's right. Well, I know that Don Wallace is your ranch manager. 
Stare: Don is my son-in-law. He has the title of ranch manager. 

Hicke: Yes, I wondered, is that the same as vineyard manager? What is 

Stare: No, no. It's a titleDon wanted to come to work for me, and 

virtually all Don's adult life had been spent as a heavy equipment 
operator and a construction foreman. His dad was a construction 


foreman, he'd do various jobs for Bechtel all over the world, and 
Don, as a kid, lived in Venezuela and other places. He had done 
that work since about the age of seventeen. He wanted to get out 
of it and come to work for me, so I said, "Fine. Go work for some 
other winery first." He did work for Tim Murphy at Murphy-Goode 
for a year, helped out in the vineyards and did mechanical farm 
machinery repair, helped lay out vineyards, and did a lot of 
vineyard work. 

Then when he came to work for me three years ago, he had the 
title of ranch manager. Unfortunately, it really didn't work out; 
he kind of stepped on people's toes. Duff Bevill, our vineyard 
manager, didn't want him monkeying in his territory. Larry Levin, 
our winemaker, didn't want him monkeying in his area. For a while, 
Don had a job but really didn't have a job. 

He has, over the last year and a half, gotten a lot more 
involved in sales, and has done very well; he basically has the 
wrong title now. He's become involved in sales, and I gave him, 
about a year ago, about four or five problem markets where we had 
not been growing, and he started making some sales calls and going 
to the markets and working the markets. The three principal states 
were Louisiana, Texas, and Coloradoall three areas where our 
sales have been drifting downward. I must admit he has turned our 
sales dramatically up in all three states. He's done a very good 
job at that. 

Don is a very personable guy, and people get along with him 
very well. All these salesmen, these distributors would become Kim 
and Don's personal friendsthey are always calling him at home 
and it's worked out. Don is being steered much more in the 
direction of sales, and I think we'll eventually drop the term 
ranch manager. Duff does our vineyards. Don is heading for our 
sales manager position. 

Anything dealing with the property that's not vineyards falls 
under Don's territory. If we have a road that needs to be rebuilt, 
that's Don's territory. The winery actually owns two rental houses 
now. We own the original house where Zita [Eastman] lives, and one 
that came with the Windsor Dairy Ranch, and Don is responsible for 
fixing those up and making sure that anything wrong gets fixed; the 
one in Windsor had a fair amount of work to do on it before we 
could rent it out. He's in charge of the ranch, but not the 
vineyards, if you see what I mean. 

Hicke: That's an interesting idea. In a winery, it seems like a lot of 
people's jobs would intersect. 


Stare: They do, and I think one of the characteristics of the most 

successful winemakers and vineyard managers is that they probably 
have fairly big egos. They don't want people coming into their 
territory and telling them what to do. Don, for a while, was 
trying to help out in grape buying, and that really ruffled Larry's 
feathers. I think our winemaker should be the primary person who 
determines what grapes we buy. They make the styles of wine that I 
tell them we want to make. Don ruffled Larry's feathers, but he 
has found a niche, and it appears he does very, very well in sales, 
and that's where he's going to be going. 

Heritage Wines 






Okay, let's go back a bit to the wines, and I'd like to ask you 
about developing a Heritage wine, which you started very early on. 

We [pause] started developing a line of reserve wines; I think our 
first reserve wine was a reserve Cab, which we came out with in '77 
or "78. And then we had an estate reserve Merlot of 1980, and 
maybe a reserve Chardonnay, but began our current reserve program 
in '82, with a reserve Chardonnay and a reserve red wine, which was 
roughly a fifty-fifty blend of Cabernet and Merlot. 

What did reserve start out to mean? 

Well, oh, five bucks more per bottle. [Laughter] Other than that, 
to me, the term reserve means something that is the best effort in 
that variety for a given year, something that's head and shoulders 
above regular quality for that wine. Our reserve Cabernet is 
richer, more fully flavored than the regular Cabernet. In the 
reserve Chardonnay, you see more barrel aging, it has a higher 
percentage of malolactic, and is a richer, fuller style of wine, 
more buttery. Typically a reserve sells at, oh, 40 to 60 percent 
higher than the regular bottling. Our current Cabernet I think 
retails at an un-discounted price for about fourteen [dollars], our 
reserve Cabernet is twenty- two, reserve Chardonnay is about 
seventeen, our regular Chardonnay, about thirteen. But the 
reserves are richer, more concentrated, typically oakies, a bigger 
style of wine. 

But you started out answering my question about Heritage and we got 
into reserve wine. 

Our first red wine, in the current program, was a 1982 Dry Creek 
reserve red. 


Hicke: That was the first blending? 

Stare: Yes, the Heritage concept had not been developed at that time. We 
had that wine, we had an '83 reserve red, an '84 reserve red, and 
we had an '85 reserve red, but we were going to release the '88. 
The Heritage concept came along in about '88. These were blends 
made from traditional Bordeaux varieties, and they were the best 
lots of the best wines of the winery from that year. Since we 
didn't have a proprietary reserve name like Opus One or Insignia or 
Cardinal, we just called our wines "Heritage," and put it on the 
front label in fairly large letters. Our '85 reserve red was 
actually bottled, labeled, and foiled, and we went to the expense 
of soaking off the labels, tearing off the foils, and re-foiling it 
and re-labeling it with the first of our diagonal reserve labels. 

Hicke: The diagonal labelswe didn't talk about that, that's Heritage 

Stare: The diagonal label is on all of our reserve wines. That was Kim's 
idea. It's been a great idea. 

Hicke: But how did the Heritage concept start? 

Stare: Dan Burger, who was a wine writer for the L.A. Times, wrote an 

article back in '86, '87, essentially stating that there was a need 
for a name for a class of wine style made in the traditional 
Bordeaux blend, really traditional Bordeaux wines. By this time, 
the varietal requirement had been raised to 75 percent. In order 
to call a wine a Cabernet, it's got to be 75 percent Cabernet. I 
believe, right now, that there's a movement to try to raise that to 
85 percent. But there was a need for having a name for a blended 
red wine from Bordeaux. 

Berger's original suggestion was to call these wines "elevage" 
wines. "Elevage" is a French term, meaning that the blend is 
better than any one of the parts. The blend elevates the wine to a 
higher plane. I think Hurphy-Goode actually bottled some wine with 
the "elevage" name on it. The name was rapidly and completely 
dropped when someone realized that "elevage" had another meaning in 
French, having something to do with sheep breeding. 

Hicke: Oh, great. 

Stare: The name was dropped, and then a contest was held by the Heritage 
Association to come up with a name: What do we call this class of 
wines, made in the vision of Bordeaux? They had to be blends, 
generally less than 75 percent of any variety, so you couldn't call 
it a Cabernet, or a Herlot. 


Hicke: But very fine wine. 

Stare: Yes, but top-notch wine, and someone suggested "Heritage," wines of 
merit made from the heritage of Bordeaux. Kind of a bastardized 
word made up of "heritage," and "merit." That term was adopted, 
and at that time, we were looking for a proprietary name for our 
reserve red wine, and we jumped on the Heritage bandwagon whole 
heartedly, and put the term "Heritage" in large letters on the 

It took the Heritage concept a fair amount time to get off the 
ground. Some of the more important wine writers always thought it 
was ridiculous, and other writers liked it, and it sputtered, and 
at Dry Creek it sputtered. We had a hard time selling the wines 
until two years ago. I think the name has finally caught on, and 
people know what it is, and we came out with our Heritage, and 
within a month we sold out of it. I think the term is a 
significant one; it has taken on a special meaning as quality 
wines, and we're going to start increasing our production of 
Heritage quite a bit while still maintaining our high quality. 

Hicke: When you first started the reserve reds called red table wine, 
which you would think would not be a fine wine, did you find 
resistance to that not being a true varietal? 

Stare: Yes, there was, and part of the initial program in '82, '83, and 
'84, was we came out with David S. Stare- -you looked at the label 
and the thing that stood out was David S. Stare, not Dry Creek 
Vineyards. That was a mistake. We should have made Dry Creek 
Vineyards stand out, and my name much less prominent. The current 
reserve packaging emphasizes Dry Creek more than anything else. 

Hicke: But maybe part of the acceptance is the acceptance that a blended 
wine can be better than a varietal. 

Stare: Oh, yes, I think so. The Heritage Association probably has forty 
members in it today. There are a few wineries that make Heritage- 
style wines that are not members--Hondavi would be the perfect 
example- -but I think the concept has come of age. It is definitely 
one which we'll see a lot more of in the future. 


Hicke: Okay, let's talk about a couple of your other wines--the Herlot, to 
start with and I read that your 1991 won Le Grand Prix d'Honneur. 


Stare: Yes. We have made Merlot here since '74. We marketed, I think, in 
'74, '75, and '76, just a few hundred cases of Merlot each year. 
Then we dropped the Merlot for '77, '78, and '79, just used it to 
blend in with the Cabernet, and brought it back out in 1980. From 
about '80 to "87, we would make about a thousand cases a year of 
Merlot, a pretty small part of our production, but it always sold 
very quickly. We're selling out in a month, so let's make more of 
it. Thus we began to increase our production. 

When we were talking about vineyards a while back, I think I 
forgot to mention that in 1988 we bought a twelve-and-a-half-acre 
vineyard from Lambert Bridge winery, which is right across Lambert 
Bridge Road from the winery here. When we bought that vineyard it 
was planted to Johannesburg Riesling. 

Johannesburg Riesling is a varietal which is definitely going 
out of favor, even though it made a very nice wine. We bought the 
vineyard with a contract to sell the grapes to Gallo, although, we 
did make, that year, ten tons here. It made a very nice Riesling, 
but it didn't sell well. We 'decided to T-bud it over in '89 to 

Our Merlot, in back of the winery, the vineyard that I put in 
in '74, had always been just a wonderful, rich Merlot, the best 
Merlot. We propagated the bud wood and used that bud wood over in 
our new vineyard. It was T-budded in '87, and we got a small crop 
off it in '90. In '91, it came on strong, and that has 
traditionally been our best Merlot. We get between fifty and sixty 
tons off that vineyard. The '91 reserve, which won the Grand Prix 
d'Honneur at the Expo wine tasting last year, was 100 percent from 
that vineyard. Our 1993 Merlot is 100 percent from that vineyard. 
The 1994 will probably be 100 percent from that vineyard. 


Sonoma County Soleil 

Hicke: Well, the next one I want to mention is the Sonoma County Soleil. 

Stare: Soleil is the French word for sun. One of my favorite wine types 
has always been a good Sauternes or Barsac from France, or a 
Coteaux du Layon from the Loire Valley, or a Beerenauslese, or a 
Trockenbeerenauslese from Germany. These are wines which are 
infected with Botrytls cinerea, noble rot, and it causes the grapes 
to shrivel up and lose water, with the remaining sugar being 


concentrated. That's how you make these sweet wines. I've always 
liked that style of wines. 

In 1983, we were presented with climatic conditions which 
encouraged the growth of Botrytis cinerea, and we made I'd say 
about two or three hundred cases, a very small batch. The wine 
tasted very nice, but it developed a horrible orange color, a very 
dark, burnt orange color. Even though the wine tasted great, it 
did not have a very good color in it. Fortunately, we didn't have 
very much of it. 

In '85, there was a surplus of grapes, and one of our contract 
Sauvignon Blanc growers had thirty or forty tons for which he had 
no home. I told the guy, "We'd like to buy them possibly to make a 
late harvest-style reserve wine." He let them stay in the vineyard 
for a couple of weeks un-picked, and they really began to develop a 
nice noble rot. We picked the crop and made about a thousand cases 
of this very sweet, 16 percent sugar, 12 and 1/2 percent alcohol 
wine. We made it again in '86. I think the best one we ever made 
was probably the '86. We tried to make it once during the late 
eighties or early nineties, unsuccessfully. 

Then in '92, we had a grower who had some unsold Sauvignon 
Blanc, and again we made the deal with him that we would pay for 
the pickers, but we wouldn't pay for the actual farming of the 
grapes until we sold the wine, and we gave him a percentage of the 
deal, a share of the revenue. It turned out to be another very 
nice wine. 

The problem with these wines is that in California, at least 
this part of California, the Dry Creek area, the climate is really 
not conducive to the Botrytis cinerea. I think what you need is 
some rain during harvest, some dampness and rain, followed by a few 
days of cool, dry weather. Unfortunately, when we have rain here 
in the fall, before the harvest is completed, it often gets very 
muggy afterwards. The humidity causes the Botrytis cinerea mold to 
grow in a different way and become Brown Rot, and it can ruin the 
whole vineyard within about two days. And of course the rain 
during harvest is bad for the rest of the grapes. 

So it's kind of a crap shoot, and it's hard to expect your 
growers to leave twenty or thirty tons unpicked with the chance 
that it might develop Botrytis cinerea in a positive way, because 
if it doesn't, you've lost a crop, and you can't do anything with 

And so what we've started doing now with our own Sauvignon 
Blanc vineyard is to leave twenty tons unpicked. We did not do it 
last year just because of the shortage of grapes, but the last time 
we did it here, I think it was '93 or '94, we left about twenty- 


five tons unpicked to try to get the Botrytis cinerea mold growing, 
and after about ten days, it was obvious we were not having much 
success. So we went ahead and picked the crop, because I didn't 
want to lose it, and even though the grapes weren't probably quite 
as nice for a regular Sauvignon Blanc, had they been picked two 
weeks earlier, they nevertheless became a valuable component and 
didn't detract from that wine. 

I love that style of wine, but again, we don't have the 
conditions here to really do it, and it's kind of a hit or miss. 
Chateau St. Jean, Phelps, and Freemark Abbey are three of the 
wineries that have been more successful with it. They have a 
slightly different climatic condition there, more conducive to 
Botrytis cinerea, and so far, we can get it growing about every 
fourth or fifth year. 

Dry Creek Valley Appellation Recognized in 1983 

Hicke: Now I'm just going to skip around here with a few things that I 
want to be sure to get. Appellations, I know you were 
instrumental in getting- - 

Stare: Yes. Obviously, Dry Creek is in Sonoma County. We actually 

labeled a couple of our Zins back in the mid-seventies with Dry 
Creek Valley as an appellation. The BATF approved it, and then 
they eventually came back and said, "No, we can't approve that name 
any more . " 

Hicke: Why? 

Stare: It's not a recognized appellation area. But in the early eighties, 
there was a move afoot all over to try to get more tightly defined 
appellation areas. I was one of the people responsible for doing 
that . Most of the actual paperwork and legwork was done by Charles 
Richard of Bellerose Vineyard, but I certainly was very 
instrumental in getting it going. 

Hicke: What was your goal here, I mean, what were your reasons? 

Stare: I think to get more recognition for Dry Creek Valley as a grape 
growing area. When I came on the scene in 1971, Dry Creek had a 
long history of grape growing and winemaking, but it was basically 
unknown; nobody knew of it outside of northern California. Just 
trying to promote the area and get more recognition was our goal. 
And I would say over the last four or five years, Dry Creek has 
finally begun to come into its own and is getting more and more 


recognition as a growing area, and certainly having it recognized 
as an official appellation was important. 

Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley 

Stare: Another thing that I think has been very important in Dry Creek 

Valley is a group of people called Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley, 
which is a group of all the wineries and probably about a third of 
the growers here; we contribute dues in terms of dollars per acre a 
vineyard or dollars per thousand cases of wine produced. 

Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley sponsored a very, very 
successful event, the "Passport to the Dry Creek Valley," which is 
always the last weekend in April; all the wineries have an open 
house and do something special- -have some food and entertainment, 
and you have vineyard tours, and lectures on T-budding and so 
forth. It's a valley-wide open house which has become very, very 
successful. We sell 2,000 passports a year, and they were sold at 
fifty bucks a piece. It's become a major fund raiser for wine 
growers of Dry Creek Valley. The net profits of this eventforty, 
fifty, sixty thousand dollars are used to promote the Valley. 

One of our main ways of promoting it is that we have Press Day 
every spring, where we'll fly out to the valley half a dozen to a 
dozen wine press from all over the country, and they'll usually 
arrive the Thursday night, and stay Friday, Saturday, and go home 
on Sunday. During that time, they're exposed to the wineries, 
they're exposed to the vineyards, and it's really gotten the name 
of Dry Creek Valley out there. 

Hicke: You were a founding member? 

Stare: I was the second president. Lou Preston was the original 

president. I will claim that the Passport was my idea. One of the 
groups that I'm involved in is the Nautical Heritage Society, which 
owns and operates the tall ship, the California, which is a replica 
of an 1850s revenue cutter. I've been on the board of directors of 
that group for the last seven or eight years . 

They started a passport program right after I went on the 
board of directors where they had a small book they printed to look 
like a passport, and if you ever went on the boat, and you had a 
passport, you'd get your passport stamped. If you went on in 
Monterey, you'd get the Monterey page stamped; if you went on at 
Dana Point, you'd get the Dana Point page stamped. We adopted this 


for our [Dry Creek Valley] program, and it's been very, very 
successful. It really is a lot a fun. 

Bug Creek Wine Label; Rose of Cabernet 

Hicke: As I said, I'm skipping around here, but I want to hear about the 
1992 Bug Creek label. 

Stare: Okay. One of our contract growers for Cabernet Sauvignon was a 

lawyer. This is a vineyard, again, that is one of those that came 
up for sale fifteen years ago. I thought it was too expensive; I 
didn't buy it. It's right next to my house. It's eleven acres of 
Cabernet, and probably the oldest or second oldest planting of 
Cabernet in Dry Creek Valley--it was planted back in the sixties. 
It was bought, as I said, by this attorney, and for a number of 
years the grapes went to another winery, and it was supposedly 
their best Cabernet. He got tired of hauling the grapes quite a 
distance to this other winery. I don't know whether he approached 
us or we approached him, but to deliver the grapes to Dry Creek is 
a half-mile drive, as opposed to a twenty-mile drive to the other 
winery; so we started buying the grapes sometime back in the early 
to mid-eighties. 

It was our best single source of Cabernet for a number of 
years. Unfortunately, the vineyard began to show phylloxera, it 
was one of the first vineyards around here to show signs of 
phylloxera, and the quality of the grapes was beginning to go 
downhill. In 1992, I looked at the contract, and it specified 
nothing about minimum of sugar levels; normally we will specify a 
minimum of sugar level in our contract- -it was a flaw in the 
contract. He said, "Well, there's nothing [in the contract] about 
the quality of the grapes. As far as I'm concerned, you've got to 
buy the grapes even if they are only 15 percent sugar." 

I realized we had a problem there, so we sent him our 
notification, but we still had to buy the grapes for two more 
years. I told Larry, I said, "Larry, let's make two wines. Let's 
make the first pickingon the first pass, let's pick the fruit 
from the sick vines, the low sugar fruit, and let's pick the better 
quality fruit on the second picking." So we made two wines from 
that vineyard. We made the Rose from the first picking and we made 
Cabernet from the second picking. 

The actual Bug Creek label I think I came up with the idea. 
So we designed this label, and we had this kind of stylized, real 
mean, vicious-looking bug, which bears no resemblance to a 


phylloxera. The side label talks about this dreaded beast, it's 
getting rampant in the vineyard of California, and on the purchase 
of this wine, the winery will donate 10 percent of the proceeds to 
the American Vineyard Foundation for vineyard research to solve the 

I think the first year we gave seven or eight thousand bucks 
to AVF or to Davis, and the second year we gave some money, and 
then we dropped it. After two years, the Bug Creek had kind of run 
its course. We made one more year of it and just bottled it as Dry 
Creek Rose of Cabernet with a regular Dry Creek label. But that 
Bug Creek got us a lot of publicity. 

Hicke: Yes, I was going to ask about that. 

Stare: Stories in the [Wine] Spectator and all the other trade magazines; 
public television, PBS, actually sent a film crew out here, and 
they were probably here for a half a day, and ultimately showed 
about a three-minute segment. They did a little blurb on the 
phylloxera problem in California, and about half of it that was 
shown on TV was shot here at Dry Creek, including a conversation 
between myself and our vineyard manager and our winemaker, Larry 
Levin, talking about phylloxera, what it does, and this kind of 
thing. It was kind of a neat little PR coup. 

Hicke: Phylloxera should come along more often? [laughs] 

Stare: No, I hope it stays away, it's expensive. We're spending, 

probably, oh, $200,000 to $250,000 a year in replanting due to 
phylloxera. It will have cost us over a million dollars by the 
time we are finished. 

Hicke: What rootstocks are you replanting on? 

Stare: We're going to about four: 110 A, and 5 C, 420 Athose are the 
ones that come to mind. 

Celebrities' Labels 

Hicke: Would you tell me about the celebrities' labels? 

Stare: What celebrity labels? 

Hicke: The labels of people who have come to visit you-- 

Stare: Oh, oh, you mean the ones that are autographed? 


Hicke: Yes. 

Stare: Okay, there's one there from Andy Warhol. There is a big wine 

tasting every year in New York in March, "A View From the Vineyard" 
at the Pierre Hotel. We haven't gone for the last four or five 
years, because it's kind of developed into a mass public drunken 
event. Unfortunately, when you pay a hundred bucks to go to a wine 
tasting, you want to drink lots of wine. The guy comes up to your 
table, and says, "I'll take a taste of your Cabernet," and you pour 
him a taste. "Wait a minute, I want a glass of Cabernet; I don't 
want to [just] taste." 

Hicke: No spitting [laughter]. 

Stare: No spitting allowed. You don't spit at the Pierre, the rugs are 

too deep. Anyways one year, Andy Warhol was there. I was pouring 
next to my friend, Jim Pedroncelli, and Jim ran over and got Andy's 
autograph on a bottle of his wine. I decide to get an autographed 
bottle of Dry Creek. By this time, Andy was kind of walking up the 
stairs to another part of the ballroom. I ran after him, and ran 
up the stairs, and tripped and fell. I felt like a complete idiot. 
But I eventually got up, and went up to Warhol and said, "Andy, 
will you please sign a bottle of Dry Creek?" He did, and that's 
what that is. I think that's the only autographed bottle there. 

Hicke: Is it? 

Stare: Once when I was in San Jose, a few years ago, I bumped into Joe Di 
Maggio, the famous baseball player at a restaurant in San Jose. I 
asked Joe if he would autograph a label, and he said no, he would 
not endorse alcoholic beverages. He did agree to autograph the 
menu of the restaurant. We have that. I think those are the only 
two celebrity labels that we have. 

Winery Associates Formed 1982 

Hicke: And then we have here two other little things. The Winery 

Stare: Yes. We do our marketing in a somewhat unusual way in that 

[thoughtful pause] our out-of-state marketing is actually done by a 
separate company called Winery Associates. This is a company that 
I helped found in 1982. 

One of my best friends, probably my best friend now, is fellow 
named Dave Ready. Dave was one of our first distributors back in 


the early seventies. He had a little company called Vintage One 
Wines, from Bloomington, Minnesota. He was one of the early people 
in Minnesota to introduce Minnesotans to better California wines. 
Dave sold our wines from '73 to '78, at which time he sold out to 
the Ed Phillips Company and became their fine wine manager. 

Phillips is a large rectifier, a bottler of private label 
spirits, and seller of spirits and mass-produced wines in 
Minnesota, and they wanted to get into the fine wine business. 
They bought Dave's company, and they became the fine wine division. 

This lasted for about five years. Dave was kind of a happy- 
go-lucky, easy-going guy, unused to kind of a rigid corporate 
structure. Dave was let go in summer of "82 by Phillips. He had 
been wanting to move to California, and I said, "Dave, why don't 
you come out here , and let ' s figure our what we ' re going to do with 

He moved out here, and we decided to set up a wine marketing 
company. The original five partners were Dry Creek, Alexander 
Valley Vineyards, J. Pedroncelli, Preston Vineyards and Winery, and 
William Wheeler Winery. Dave became our only employee. Initially 
we had total sales of five million dollarscombined, out-of-state 
sales of the various wineries. We gradually grew, and we 
eventually added some other people. 

Today two of the original partners have dropped: William 
Wheeler is out of business. Bill sold his winery to a French 
company a few years ago, and then, they in turn sold to another 
French company, and now it's basically out of business. And Lou 
Preston decided three or four years ago that he wanted to do his 
own thing, so he dropped out of the marketing company. 

We have, since then, added Murphy Goode, who's become a 
partner member, and Flora Springs from Napa has been a client for 
the last two years and will become a partner next year. Then we 
just recently added Quivira Vineyards here in Dry Creek as a 

Winery Associates has a top-notch salesman on the East Coast, 
a top-notch guy in the Midwest, Dave in California, and Dave's wife 
does Hawaii and national accounts. We've got two office people 
here. We hired a new guy in Texas last year, and we're in the 
process of hiring a guy to do Colorado, Arizona, and the mountain 
states. It's been beneficial for all the wineries concerned as it 
is an economical way to market wines. 

Dry Creekif we didn't have Winery Associates, we would 
probably have about six or seven more employees. To have a 
salesman in a territory costs about a hundred grand per person. 
You've got, probably, a salary of fifty to sixty thousand bucks, 


and when you consider his miscellaneous payroll expenses, car 
allowance, entertainment, and travel, you're talking about a 
hundred grand per person. At our size, we'd have to have a guy in 
the Northeast, probably a guy in the Southeast, a guy in the 
Midwest, a guy in the Southwest, and probably a guy in the 
Northwest. We'd have to have five sales people plus probably 
another secretary or two here, and probably a national sales 
manager. Our overall salary expenses would be a lot higher. 
Winery Associates offers us a way to share those expenses. 

The other nice thing about it is when one of the Winery 
Associates people goes into the distributing company, where we're 
all in the same house, you know, you command a lot more respect. 
For example, we are all with the same distributor in Connecticut; 
so it's not just the twenty-five hundred cases of Dry Creek they 
sell. We become then, collectively, for the distributor, a twelve- 
thousand-case-a-year supplier, which is a lot more important, and 
they are much more willing to pay attention to us. 

As a result, it's been, I think, quite successful. This year 
we decided to add one more person. We've had a dozen different 
wineries that want to join our group, and we added one. 

I'm surprised more wineries haven't done this type of thing. 
You have to control your own ego a little, because when one of the 
salesmen goes in and talks about Murphy Goode wine, why isn't he 
talking about Dry Creek? But collectively it's worked, I think, by 
and large, very successfully. 

Hicke: How do they differentiate among the wines they represent? 

Stare: That's a good question. I don't know. Fortunately, I don't have 
to answer that. But by and large it has gone along pretty 

Hicke: Yes. That's what counts. 

Society of Blancs. 1990 

Hicke: What about the Society of Blancs? 

Stare: That was a group that was started, again, by myself, probably about 
five years ago to promote Sauvignon Blanc as a wine. We just felt 
that Sauvignon Blanc needed more publicity, and more and more wine 
writers needed to write about it and recommend it; we were hoping 
we would increase the sales. We, initially, had about thirty-six 


wineries that joined and had dues ranging from 500 bucks to 4,000 
dollars a year. 

We hired a high-powered PR type from the city--I forget his 
last namewho promptly spent 48,000 bucks a year and offended 
everybody. We eventually dropped him and decided to do it much 
more in-house and scale back the dues. 

I was the original president of this group and I am now the 
new president for 1996, but with wine sales booming and the current 
shortage of S.B. grapes, there is less of an interest in this 

The group promotes Sauvignon Blanc wine, as I said. We have a 
person who works part time for the group who hands out press 
releases to wine writers. It's up to the individual winery to get 
their wines out. An example of what we do is that we have been 
called upon by the Wine Institute to do S.B. tastings for foreign 
buyers. And we've gotten some people to pay a little bit more 
attention to Sauvignon Blanc, but the organization is fairly 
inactive now. 

Hicke: I wondered if you could tell me about your wife's role here. 
Stare: Unfortunately, we're separated. 
Hicke: Oh, okay. 

Stare: So, that's the end of that. I will admit, one of the problems with 
the wine business is that if you're going to be successful, you've 
got to travel a lot. 

My first wifewe got divorced in 1977, and I raised both my 
girls by myself. I had a very good au pair helping me, a live-in 
nanny . 

I got remarried four years ago, and Andrea didn't like the 
idea of me traveling, so I started to take her with me on trips, 
and then she didn't like the idea of getting up and catching the 
seven o'clock plane. "Why do we have to do that?" I said, "Well, 
dear, this is a business trip, that's what I have to do. You want 
to come with me, fine, but don't complain about it. If you don't 
want to come, fine." Things just didn't go very well; we separated 
six months ago. 

Wine Institute 

Hicke: Well, one of the things you said you would tell me a little bit 
about is the Wine Institute, and your part in that. 

Stare: Yes. I think the Wine Institute [pensive pause], by and large, is 
a good organization. A lot of the small-to-medium size wineries 
feel that it is controlled by Modesto, California, the Gallo 
company. I have no proof whether it is or not, but I'm sure when 
one of the Gallos calls, John De Luca, the president, will drop 
everything and take his calls. When I call to ask John a question, 
the secretary will say, "Well, he's in a meeting, he'll call you 
back." He may or may not call me back. 

As I mentioned at lunch yesterday, Dry Creek was one of the 
wineries that brought about the downfall of the California Wine 
Commission a few years ago. The Wine Commission was a marketing 
order that developed in the mid-eighties to promote California 
wines. People had to pay into it dues assessment, based upon 
gallons shipped or tons shipped or something. I think it was based 
upon gallons shipped. 


Hicke: We were just talking about the demise of the California Wine 

Stare: Yes. Anyway, the California Wine Commission would then hire 

contractors to do their job, andI'm a little bit fuzzy on the 
details nowthe Wine Commission would contract with the Wine 
Institute to do something. What it essentially resulted in was 
mandatory membership in the Wine Institute, because most of the 
California Wine Commission's funds were being funneled into the 
Wine Institute to support the Wine Institute's programs. 

A lot of us rebelled, and the last time there was a vote on 
whether to re-install the Wine Commission, it was voted down. 
Nobody thought it would be voted down, but it meant the demise of 
the Wine Commission, and it meant that the Wine Institute was going 
to lose the vast majority of their funding mechanism. 

They did some fairly serious soul searching, and I was one of 
a group of about twenty vintners who was on this soul-searching 
committee. We met, I think, once a month for six months, usually 
down at Wente in Livermore, and came up with the current structure 
and dues rates, which has solved some of the problems. But I still 
think that when the interests of big wineries and small wineries 
diverge, the Wine Institute will always side with the big wineries. 


Hicke: Is there any kind of solution to this problem? 

Stare: Yes. I think the solution is one vote per winery. Now, from that 
standpoint, Dry Creek has a vote, Gallo has a vote. I'm sure from 
Gallo's standpoint, because they're a hundred times larger than we 
are, they want a hundred votes. So I think the ultimate solution 
might be to have almost kind of a House and a Senate. The Senate, 
essentially, is one vote per winery, regardless of whether you're a 
big or a little winery; in the House the voting is based upon size. 
And what the Wine Institute has done is they have twenty at-large 
directorstwenty directors that are voted in by one vote per 
wineryand twenty directors that are voted in by the size of the 
winery. But it's still stacked, so that probably two- thirds of the 
directors are from bigger wineries. I don't know if there is a 

In the meantime, a lot of the smaller wineries have started a 
group called Family Winemakers of California. You have to be a 
f amily-owned-and-operated winery, although Clos Du Bois is owned by 
Hiram Walker. I think they are members, but I'm not sure how they 
get into it, if it is "family-owned wineries." 

Family Winemakers of California operates on the state level 
and is a very effective lobbying organization on the state level. 
We make no attempt to do anything in Washington. There is a group 
called the American Vintners Association, AVA, which represents 
wineries from thirty-seven out of the fifty states, which does have 
a Washington office and does some fairly effective work on the 
national level. 

AVA and the Wine Institute tend to work together on a lot of 
things. I'm sure there are times when they have different 
opinions. On the state level, the Family Winemakers of California 
and the Wine Institute have been known to work together; they've 
been known to be against each other on various bills and positions. 

One of the areas where, I think, Family Winemakers and the 
Wine Institute had different opinions was a proposal to increase 
the taxing on fortified wines. Family Winemakers supported this 
tax increase but we wanted an amendment saying that fortified wines 
that are bottles with corks and aged for at least two years would 
be exempt. The reason is, you know, that if you're talking about 
nice aged port, it's different than some White Lightning or 
Thunderbird or other wino-type wine. 

Gallo and the other large wineries make a fairly significant 
amount of wine destined strictly for the wino trade, and the idea 
was to, really, raise the taxes on that, and use that money to fund 
alcohol research and rehabilitation for the people who have chronic 


drinking problems. Gallo, of course, was very much against that, 
because it would hurt them personally, and yet our position was, 
"That part of the business should be taxed heavily because of all 
the damage it causes." 

I can recall once when I was visiting with our New Mexican 
distributor, I said, "What regally sells here?" Well, he said, "We 
sell an awful lot of white port to Indians." But they're making a 
ton of money living on people's miseries, and that just shouldn't 
go on. 

Changes in Sonoma County and Dry Creek Valley Wine Industry 

Hicke: Let's take just a couple of minutes to talk about the changes in 
the Dry Creek Valley and Sonoma County wine industry. 

Stare: Yes. I think one of the things that I mentioned earlier today, or 
maybe yesterday, one of the big changes that has occurred is that 
the people who got into the business in the early seventies had a 
little bit of money and wanted to make money at the wine business, 
and a lot of people who are getting into it now are much wealthier 
--the retired business executives, the retired lawyers, doctors-- 
and to them it's more of a life- style change, and they're not so 
much interested in making money. 

I think another big change, which really is going to affect us 
all, is the threat of urbanization and how it's going to affect 
farming. Fortunately, most of the zoning in Dry Creek and 
Alexander Valley and in the better grape growing areas requires a 
twenty-acre minimum per dwelling unit. This means that if a 
twenty-acre parcel comes up for sale, let's say it's vacant, you've 
got twenty acres of vineyard land, let's say, at 20,000 bucks. 
Unfortunately, you also have the right to build a house on that 
property, if no house exists, and that building site is worth a 
quarter of a million dollars. So it tends to over-inflate the 
property and make it difficult for someone like myself; I'm not 
interested in buying a house, I want to buy vineyard property, but 
that makes the land much more expensive. 

Fortunately, Sonoma County does have an open space fund, 
funded when the voters passed a half-cent increase in the sales 
tax. This money goes into buying open space. There have been 
several wineries--De Loach is one that has taken advantage of this 
fund- -they bought a piece of property and then sold the development 
rights to the county. The vineyard can never be developed. 


Hicke: It remains open space? 

Stare: Yes. It must remain an open space. I bought this thirty- seven- 
acre dairy ranch in Windsor, and it is right in the path of 
development of Windsor. I'm very seriously thinking, once we get 
it developed, and if it does prove to be a really good vineyard 
with high-quality grapes, I'm going to consider trying to sell the 
development rights to the county, so that would be potentially 
required to be an open space and prevent development around then. 

If you looked at Windsor, driving up on the freeway yesterday, 
ten years ago, none of those houses there existed. That's all the 
old Landmark Winery property. Fortunately, it's not in Dry Creek 
yet, not in Alexander Valley, but there's pressure to do it. 
Whenever you have a house built next to a vineyard, the home owner 
gets upset if the farmer gets out at five o'clock in the morning 
and sulfur dusts, or is disking his vineyard on a Saturday and the 
dust drifts over onto his property. So there is an inevitable 
conflict, I think, between the residential dwellers and farmers. 
That is, I think, a potential long-term problem. 

I think another problem that affects the entire California 
wine industry is phylloxera and the effect that it's having on the 
lessening of the supply of grapes, which means higher grape prices. 
There are tons and tons of good wines from Chile, Argentina, 
Australia, and South Africa which would love to come into this 
country and take our market away from us; so I think that's another 
potential problem. 

Sonoma County Technical Tasting Group 

Stare: One of the things that we started, fairly early in the early 

seventies, was a Sonoma County Technical Tasting Group, where we 
get together on a once-a-month basis and taste wine and talk about 
an aspect of winemaking. One thing, I want to tell you one funny 

Hicke: Great! 

Stare: The group is still operating, and it's gotten much more technical 
now. Besides just tasting wines, we might have someone come and 
give a lecture on new developments. But, in the early beginning, 
Lou Foppiano was responsible for putting on a tasting, and he 
selected the wines, and I was there. 

Hicke: Lou Senior? 


Stare: Lou Junior. We tasted ten or twelve different Chardonnays. This 
was in about 1975 or '6. One of them, I thought, was just awful. 
I didn't recognize it, I didn't know whose it was, and finally, he 
said, "Dave, why don't you talk about Wine F." I said, "Wine F: 
this is a badly oxidized wine, possibly there was a major problem 
at the winery, but the wine is terrible; it should never have been 
released. It's just awful, and it's oxidized, and it's an 
unsalable product." Well, it turned out to be our Chardonnay, 1974 
Chardonnay, which was a wonderful wine. I was very embarrassed; I 
said, "Lou, these bottles are not characteristic of the way the 
wine tastes." 

Hicke: It was corked or something? 

Stare: No, just oxidized. "Where did you buy these bottles, Lau?" I 

asked. "Coddentown Wine Cellar," he answered. That explained it. 
There used to be a wine shop called Coddingtown Liquors, which at 
one time was the best wine shop in Sonoma County; but it was 
notorious for bad storage. The wine had been in his inventory for 
well over a year. I was so upset, I raced back to the winery, 
drove back here, went to the library, got three bottles out, and 
opened all three of them. They were wonderful. 

Hicke: [chuckle] Oh, dear. 

Stare: There was another tasting that I went to that that same store put 

on, one of Charles Krug vintage select, reserve Cabernets. Charles 
Krug used to make some wonderful Cabernets. Actually, the store 
put the tasting on. I went to it, and the older the wines got, the 
worse they got. And, again, I'm sure those wines had all been 
stored at that store. The current vintage was lovely. The next 
years, the next older vintage, was pretty nice; the second oldest 
vintage was okay; the older the wines got, the worse they got, and 
I'm sure that that store just had terrible storage conditions. 
They store their wines next to the furnace or something. 

Hicke: [chuckle] Well, I don't know if that's a good note to end on or 
not, but I think that's most of what I wanted to ask you about. 

Stare: Okay. 

Hicke: I thank you so much for devoting all this time to thinking about 
the past. I know your ideas tend more toward the future. 

Stare: Oh, you're very welcome. 

Hicke: There we are, unless there is anything more that you would like to 


Stare: I can't think of anything. 

Hicke: Okay. Again, I thank you very much, it was a very excellent 

Stare: Oh, thank you, and you'll be sending me a transcript of it at some 

Hicke: Yes. 

Transcriber: Eric Schwimmer 
Final Typist: Shana Chen 


TAPE GUIDE- -David S. Stare 

Interview 1: 
tape 1, 
tape 1, 
tape 2, 

January 1 1 , 
side A 
side B 
side A 


tape 2, side 8 

Interview 2: January 12, 1996 

tape 3, side A 

tape 3, side B 

tape 4, side A 

tape 4, side B 





APPENDICES- -David S. Stare 

A Wine Label Samples 80 

B Winery Logbook Facts & Figures 84 










VO 'AiNnOG VINONOS '9HnaS01V3H 'Sd\m30 VdlSXMV HHd A8 0311109 "8 Q30nOOdd 

1 i/iet/atil 


Produced by Dry Creek 

Vineyard, 1996 


Facts & Figures 


Dry Creek Vineyard is located in the heart of Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley. The ivy-covered 

stone winery is reminiscent of country chateau-style French architecture. 


Wines from our first vintage in 1972 were crushed at a bonded winery in Calistoga. Dry Creek 
Vineyard's original 3,500-square-foot winemaking facility was constructed in 1973. All subsequent 
vintages have been produced at our winemaking estate. 

Wines Produced 

Six vintage dated varietab: 

Fume Blanc, Dry Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Old Vines Zinfandel, Merlot 

Vintage dated "Reserve" wines: 

Reserve Chardonnay, Meritage, Reserve Fume" Blanc. Produced only according to the finest vintages. 

Estate Vineyards 

Seven estate vineyards, a total of 100 acres, supply approximately 1/3 of our grapes: 

Drv Ctrek Vallcv 
Sauvignon Blanc - 20 acres 
Chardonnay - 20 acres 
Cabernet Sauvignon - 9 acres 
Merlot- 19 acres 
Zinfandel- 10 acres 

Alexander Valley 
Sauvignon Blanc- 15 acres 
Chardonnay - 15 acres 

Page Two 

Fermentation and Storage Capacities 
Approximately 260,000 gallons 


Over 3,500 55-60 gallon oak barrels: 

60% French (Nevers, Vosges, Limousin); 

40% American; 

Cooperage is to 5 years; 

Average of 20% new barrels each year. 


2 Bucher tank presses (membrane): 10- and 20-ton capacity 


White wines: diatomaceous earth and membrane 

Red wines: diatomaceous earth 


3,000-4,000 cases per day capacity 

Total Capacity 

1 10,000 cases annually 


A total of 20 employees, both full- and part-time, work at Dry Creek Vineyard. President/ Winemaster 
is David S. Stare. Vice President/ Director of Marketing is Kim Stare Wallace. Winemaker is Larry 
Levin. Vineyard Manager is DufTBcvill. Ranch Manager is Don Wallace. Gary Emmerich is Director of 
Sales Administration. Linda Honeysett is Office Manager. 

Tasting Room 

Open daily, 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. Tours for trade by appointment only. Closed on major holidays. 

INDEX--David Stare 


Adams, Steve, 14 
Alexander Valley Vineyards, 69 
Amerine, Maynard, 17, 49 
appellations, 64-65 

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 9 
Berg, Harold, 17 
Bevill, Duff, 34, 39-40 
Boordy Vineyards, 10-11 
Brander, Fred, 37 

California Wine Commission, 72 

Carpy, Charles, 29-30 

Charles Krug Winery, 76 

Chateau St. Jean winery, 64 

Chris Fredson winery, 34-35 

Continental Can Co., 12 

Cook, Jim, 17-18 

Corti, Darrel, 31 

Cottrell, Thomas, 18, 25, 26 

Cuvaison Winery, 18, 23, 25, 27, 31 

De Loach Vineyards, 74 

Dehlinger, Tom, 37-42 

Dehlinger, Dan, 42 

Di Maggio, Joe, 68 

Dickson, W.J. , 9 

Dry Creek Valley wineries, 34-36 

Ek, Fred, 13 

equipment, 26-27, 41, 43 

Fetzer, Barney, 24 
Finnegan, Robert, 31-32 
Flora Springs winery, 69 
Foppiano, Louis M. , 75-76 
Freemark Abbey Winery, 64 
Frei Bros. , 34 

Gallo [E&J] Winery, 73-74 
Gomberg, Louis, 14,16 
Goode , Dave , 20 
growers, 54-57 

Healdsburg Wine Co., 34 
Holmes, Rosinda, 27-28, 30 
hops, 22 
Hugenberger, Gail, 10, 12, 14 

J. Pedroncelli winery, 34 
Jaffrey, John, 37 
Johnson, Lloyd, 48 

Keith, Richard, 26 

label design, 27-29 
Le Baron, Paul, 21 
Levin, Larry, 37-39 
Lichine, Alexis, 56 

marketing, 29-32 

Martin, Ron, 39 

Matson Steamship Co., 7 

Heritage Association, 60-61 

Montana, Joe, 53 

Murphy Goode Estate Winery, 69 

Ortman, Charles, 18 
Ough, Cornelius, 17 

Pacific Coast Farm Credit, 49 

Parkhill, Thomas, 18 

Pedroncelli, Jim, 68 

Pedroni, Dan, 46-47, 51 

Phelps [Joseph] Vineyards, 64 

phylloxera, 66-67, 75 

Portet, Bernard, 18 

Preston, Lou, 65 

Preston Vineyards and Winery, 69 

prune crop, 22-23 

Quivira Vineyards, 69 

railroads, interest in, 7 
Rasselstein [steel co.], 12 
Ready, Dave, 68-69 
Rochioli, Joe, 24-25 
Rodney Strong Vineyards, 55 
Rued, Richard, 40 
Rugge, Mike, 34 

Session, Bob, 20 

Singleton, Vernon L., 17 

Society of Blancs, 70-71 

Sonoma County, land prices, 19-20 

open space, 74 

wineries, 19 
Sonoma County Technical Tasting 

Group, 75-77 

Sonoma County Vintners' Co-op, 43 
Stare, Andrea, 71 
Stare, Fredrick [Sr.], 1-5, 12 
Stare, Fredrick [Jr.], 3-4 
Stare, Joyce Allen, 1-2 
Stare, Mary Sue, 3 


Thomas, Rich, 24-25 

University of California, Davis, 16- 

vineyard management, 32-34 

Wagner, Phillip, 10 

Wallace, Don, 57-59 

Wallace, Kim Stare, 29 

Warhol, Andy, 68 

Webb, A. Dinsmoor, 17 

Weber, Peter, 13 

Weller, Stan, 30 

William Wheeler Winery, 69 

Wine and Cheese Cask [wine shop], 


wine club, 36 
Wine Institute, 71-74 
Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley 

association, 65-66 
Winery Associates, 68-70 
winery buildings, 23, 25-26, 41-49 
Woods, Frank, 42 

Young, Robert, 25 


Bug Creek Label, 66-67 

Cabernet Franc, 38-39 

Cabernet Sauvignon, 25, 33, 38, 41- 

43, 59 

Chardonnay, 24, 25, 30, 33, 36, 41, 

43, 59, 76 

Chenin Blanc, 23, 25, 32, 33, 43 

Fume Blanc [Sauvignon Blanc], 23-24, 
30, 32-33, 36-37, 43, 70-71 

Camay Beaujeaulais, 30, 41 
Grenache Rose, 10 

Johannesburg Riesling, 62 

Merlot, 25, 41, 43, 49, 61-62 
Heritage wines, 59-61 

Petite Sirah, 43 

Rose of Cabernet, 25, 6-67 

Sauvignon Blanc [see Fume Blanc] 
Sonoma County Soleil, 62-64 

Wollcott Chardonnay, 3 
Zinfandel, 25, 41, 43, 49 

Cabernet Franc, 39, 51 

Cabernet Sauvignon, 32, 33, 40, 42, 

51, 54 

Chardonnay, 32, 33, 37, 40, 51-52 
Chenin Blanc, 32-33, 51 
Concord, 5 

Johannesburg Riesling, 2 
Merlot, 33, 51-52 

Sauvignon Blanc, 24-25, 32, 36-37, 
40, 51-52, 55, 63 

Zinfandel, 39-40, 52 

Carole E. Hicke 

B.A., University of Iowa; economics 

M.A. , San Francisco State University; U.S. history 
with emphasis on the American West; thesis: "James 
Rolph, Mayor of San Francisco." 

Interviewer /editor /writer, 1978-present, for 
business and law firm histories, specializing in 
oral history techniques. Independently employed. 

Interviewer-editor, Regional Oral History Office, 
University of California, Berkeley, 1985 to 
present, specializing in California legal, 
political, and business histories. 

Author: Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe: A 
Century of Service to Clients and Community, 1991; 
history of Farella, Braun & Martel; history of the 
Federal Judges Association. 

Editor (1980-1985) newsletters of two professional 
historical associations: Western Association of 
Women Historians and Coordinating Committee for 
Women in the Historical Profession. 

Visiting lecturer, San Francisco State University 
in U.S. history, history of California, history of 
Hawaii, legal oral history.