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Dry Creek Valley and Kenwood, CA
When vintner Barry Collier opened the doors of the first Family Wineries facility in the spring of 2005, he launched an innovative way to introduce wine tourers to not one, but, several previously undiscovered local wineries under one roof. As the owner of Collier Falls Vineyards, Barry knew firsthand that running a tasting room took money, staff, and management—commodities not easy to come by for a small family business. But he also knew the solution: a cooperative tasting room. He developed the concept, approached several fellow vintners and winemakers, and Family Wineries was born.
“Bringing the wineries together under one roof is a win-win solution,” Barry explains. “For the wineries, the barriers of cost, staff, and management are knocked down. They can provide a comprehensive tasting room experience without having to run their own. And for consumers, they can select from 60 different wines in two locations. And they’re distinctive wines because they come from boutique Sonoma wineries producing an average of just 3,000 cases each.”
Wine tourers are invited to taste the wines poured by the welcoming Family Wineries staff who have a fluent knowledge of all the tasting rooms’ labels. Customers can choose from 60 carefully selected wines, including estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, red blends, Sangiovese, Syrah, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and hard to find varietals including Barbera, Grenache, Petit Verdot, Primitivo, and Viognier. Reserve wines and surprises from the wine library are also often on hand. Frequently, one or more of the winemakers are present to pour and talk to visitors firsthand about their wine.
There are now two Family Wineries locations, one in Dry Creek Valley and a second in Kenwood. Beyond a lively tasting room, both locations offer a country general store gift shop featuring unique and elegant giftware, including imported Belgium linen, French porcelain, the works of local artists, plus fine sundries and gourmet food products. Both locations have delightful picnic grounds.
The flagship store, located in Dry Creek Valley, features wines from six family wineries, including Barry’s own Collier Falls Vineyards, Dashe Cellars, Forth Vineyards, Lago di Merlo, Mietz Cellars, and Philip Staley. The second Family Wineries location, which opened in Kenwood in the spring of 2008, features selected wines of Collier Falls Vineyards David Noyes Wines, Macrae Family Winery, SL Cellars, Spann Vineyards, and Tandem Wines.
“Chances are, most of these names aren’t familiar to many wine tourers, but with this exposure they soon will be,” Barry says. He adds that it’s not unusual for visitors to stop into both locations on a day of wine touring. In fact, if they choose to join the Family Wineries Wine Clubs, they get a 20 percent discount on any wine purchase at either Family Wineries locations. This gives them wine club privileges at more than a dozen Sonoma County wineries.
Many visitors decide to continue the intimate tasting experience at home by joining the Family Tree Wine Clubs. Members receive two shipments per year, one in May and one in November. They can choose to receive either one bottle representing each of the wineries, or two bottles from each of their favorite wineries. Many of Sonoma County’s most distinctive wines will no longer be a family secret, thanks to the efforts of Family Wineries.
This article has been provided compliments of Touring & Tasting magazine.