Comstock Wines has three generations of Zinfandel growing on its property. The original vines planted on the property are 117 years old. The second generation, grafted from the Mother Vine, are 65 years old. The third generation of vines are two years old. When you sip Comstock Zinfandels you can compare how age factors into the tasting experience.
Located on Dry Creek Road, Comstock Wines is a family-owned boutique winery that opened its doors for business in 2015 and is gaining a reputation for its elegant wines. Comstock is passionate about producing mostly single varietal wines, sourced from the finest Sonoma County grapes to showcase the true essence of the growing region.
In 2002, Bob and Sandy Comstock, grew their first grapes in Dry Creek Valley, and dreamed of owning a winery one day. When the winery opened for business, Comstock Ferris stepped in as general manager.
She and her husband, Chris, have two daughters—7-year-old Ryan and 3-year-old Shane, who helped with the pick during harvest. Chris Russi, the winemaker, began making wine as a young boy with his grandfather. He formally started in the wine business in 1992, managing vineyards in Dry Creek Valley, and began working as a winemaker in 2000 after graduating from the University of California, Davis. Russi’s approach to winemaking is to let the vineyard’s bounty speak for itself with minimal manipulation and to focus on elegance. “I’m proud to make wine in Sonoma County, which is not only one of the diverse growing regions, but quite possibly the most beautiful place in the world.”
The tasting room offers tranquil wooded views of Dry Creek Valley and a terrace where you can reserve special tastings and bring your pooch along, if you’re inclined. We begin with the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, which offers aromas of lemon-lime citrus blossom. “This pairs well with scallops, salad, or in my case, popcorn and a movie on a Saturday night,” says Comstock Ferris with a smile.
Next, we taste the 2014 Chardonnay, which offers a beautiful aroma of lemon blossom, followed by peach and citrus flavors. “The grapes are sourced from the Sonoma Coast, offering a nice coastal influence,” says Comstock Ferris. Aged in neutral oak barrels as well as French oak, it offers a nice creamy finish.
At Comstock, the wines are light, bright and crisp. “We strive to make wines that people can sip on, or that pair well with food,” she says.
During the October wildfires, Comstock’s vineyards were unaffected. “All the vineyards were harvested before the fires, except for one,” says Comstock Ferris. While some staff members at Comstock had to evacuate from their homes, no one lost a house. “We are very blessed.” Business was slow, however, in the tasting room. “October was awful,” she recalls. “We had reservations for terrace tastings, and 90 percent of our reservations were cancelled. But now the word is out that Sonoma County is safe and the air is clean. People are coming in, and most are locals, but we’ve also had visitors from the Midwest, Florida and Texas.”
We move to the reds and begin with the 2014 Pinot Noir, which offers aromas of rhubarb, ripe strawberry and cherry cola. The grapes are sourced from the Sonoma Coast. “We like the cool climate, and we highlight what the vineyards offers to show us the character of the wine.”
The 2013 Zinfandel is sourced from five vineyards in Dry Creek Valley and is one of the few blends offered at the winery. It also won a gold medal in 2017 in the San Francisco Chronicle competition. This wine is fruit forward with black cherry cream, dark plum and blackberry with a hint of spice at mid-palate. “Zinfandel is still not popularly recognized as a varietal,” says Comstock Ferris. “But it’s unique and versatile—it offers a nice balance and structure, and it’s not as ‘weighty’ as a Cabernet.”
Finally, we finish with the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is full and rich on the palate, with flavors of black fruit, roasted cocoa and spice. Next time you’re in Dry Creek Valley, stop by Comstock Wines where winetasting is considered the final step in Comstock’s winemaking process. Says Comstock Ferris, “Wine is something to experience, letting the flavors unfold.”
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Located at 1410 Neotomas Ave. in Santa Rosa,NorthBay biz magazine is a monthly business-to-business publication covering Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties. This year, the magazine is celebrating 43 years of continuous operation. It originally hit the stands in 1975, when it was called Sonoma Business, and only covered Sonoma County. Norm and Joni Rosinski and John Dennis, acquired it in 2000 and changed its name to cover an expanded market. Today, the magazine is part of Amaturo Sonoma Media Group. More here..