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DeVero Farms & Winery

Columnist: Karen Hart
July, 2017 Issue
Columnist

Karen Hart
All articles by columnist

DeVero Farms & Winery

766 Westside Rd.

Healdsburg, Calif. 95448

(707) 431-8000

www.devero.com

Hours: Open Most Days 11-5 p.m.

(Tuesday and Wednesdays, Appointment Only)

Tasting Fees: $15

Wines offered:

2014 Carignano—Testa Vineyards, 2015 Primitiva, 2016 Altobasso Rosato, 2016 Vermentino—Schatz Vineyard

Reservations: Private tastings by appointment;

Call (707) 431-8000 or go to DaVero.com

Picnics: Yes

Pets: Yes

Ask Ridge Evers how he happened to venture into the wine business, and he’ll tell you it was serendipity. In 1982, he’d just graduated from business school and was living in San Francisco when he came to Sonoma County for a weekend getaway and found a parcel of land on Westside Road in Dry Creek Valley. “It was a wild, magnificent piece of land,” says Evers, who has an entrepreneurial spirit and is the man behind QuickBooks. (A project that began as a nine-month enterprise, but took two years and resulted into an accounting software package by Intuit.)

Though he knew nothing of farming, Evers purchased the property and decided to grow something. In the early ’90s, he planted four Italian olive varietals, given to him as cuttings from an 800-year-old grove on a Tuscan farm that had been growing olives since the 1400s. “Our particular clonal mix thrives here and produces exceptional oil,” he says. His olives produced award-winning oil, and another stroke of providence soon followed. Celebrity chef Mario Batali, a long-time customer and friend, slipped DaVero’s olive oil into a competition where it won “Top Tuscan Oil of the Year.” That same year, while dining at Babbo in New York, Batali offered Evers a bottle of 1994 Paola Bea Sangrantino di Montefalco, which changed his life and catapulted him into the wine business.  “It was a visceral, involuntary response,” says Evers. “I knew I was going to plant this grape and make this wine. And I would never have gotten to that moment without starting with olive trees.”

Soon after, Evers planted the Italian winegrape varietal, which thrived on his Healdsburg farm, making it clear to him that what grows best at his farm are plants from the Mediterranean. Currently, DaVero produces 18 varietal wines, and his secret to good wine is keeping it simple. Last fall, DaVero harvested 75 tons of winegrapes, and nearly two-thirds were crushed manually in the winery’s basket press. The winemaking process at DaVero begins with biodynamic farming practices, and trusting nature to do the work. The vineyards are wild with a diverse undergrowth that fosters beneficial insects and enriches the soil. Grapes are tested by flavor during harvest, rather than chemical analysis, and the winery relies on the native yeasts growing in and on the grapes to ferment the juice into wine. “It’s all about working with nature,” says Evers.

The tasting room at DaVero is open most days of the week, but private tastings are by appointment only in a rustic cottage, referred to as the Boardroom, which overlooks the vineyard and gardens.

We begin with the 2016 Altobasso Rosato, which is as refreshing as a sparkling wine, but notably complex for a Rosé. Every great wine of Europe has acid in the finish, says Evers. “It’s a certain leanness in the back of the palette, which makes it a good food wine.”

Next, we try the 2012 Sangrantino, which is a beautiful wine with notes of rose petals and blueberries. “This is the grape God had in mind when she created grapes,” says Evers with a smile. We enjoy this wine with a triple-cream cheese. “This is the most tannic grape on the planet,” he says. “When enjoyed with food, the tannins soften completely.” Wine is an ingredient in a meal, says Evers, and the Sangrantino pairs especially well with wood-grilled rack of lamb.

A private wine tasting at DaVero is relaxing, and a great way to learn about the art and science of biodynamic farming. For Evers, that means working with nature and letting the grapes speak for themselves. “There’s no word in French, German, Spanish or Italian for ‘winemaker,’” he says. “In the Old World, once you pick you’re done. Nature takes it from there.” That’s certainly the case for the 2013 Altobasso, which is silky, perfectly balanced and offers a great finish. How do biodynamic wines compare to those made traditionally? “To me, biodynamic wines taste more authentic,” says Evers.

As for the future, Evers continues to rely on instinct and serendipity. “Serendipity may be the only force in the universe,” he says. “It’s certainly the most powerful.”

Did You Know?
 

DaVero Farms & Winery has the same Mediterranean climate as the Italian peninsula—known as Csa—characterized by hot, dry summers.

 

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