It was David Stare’s obsession with the Loire Valley, and specifically its world-renowned white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, that brought the grape to the Dry Creek Valley. It would ultimately become an important wine for Sonoma County.
Stare’s launch of the region’s first Fumé Blanc, modeled after his beloved Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines, catapulted his winery, Dry Creek Vineyard, into a decades-long run of international success that continues today.
“Sonoma County is blessed with entrepreneurs and visionaries who staked their roots in our county and had a vision for what might be or could be,” says Karissa Kruse, president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. “Dave Stare is one of those early pioneers who saw something in the soil and climate in Dry Creek Valley and took a risk in planting Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc. He was a pioneer in both farming and winemaking, and his legacy lives on in the 5,000 acres of Zinfandel and the almost 3,000 acres of Sauvignon Blanc that have found their home in Sonoma County.”
Raised in Boston, the MIT graduate earned an MBA at Northwestern University. He lived in Baltimore from 1964–1967, where he worked for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
While in Baltimore, Stare planted 50 French-American hybrid vines, piquing his interest in the wine business.
Stare came to the West Coast in 1971 and enrolled in a special graduate program at University of California, Davis, to study winemaking and viticulture.
The promise of California wine was strong, and Stare was drawn into the state’s nascent, innovative and entrepreneurial industry.
Stare discovered the Dry Creek Valley while searching for a place to build his dream winery, and purchased a 55-acre prune orchard across from the Dry Creek General Store.
Settling in the area with his young family in 1972, Stare began his dream in earnest in 1973, planting Sauvignon Blanc on that old orchard, despite being advised not to. It is now the dominant white variety in Dry Creek.
“They told me Sauvignon Blanc would never grow in the Dry Creek Valley,” says Stare. “I knew I had to stick to what I knew was right. I was going to plant this variety come hell or high water.”
Stare’s Dry Creek Vineyard was the first new winery in the Dry Creek Valley since Prohibition, and he was also the first to plant Sauvignon Blanc.
Stare is responsible for helping to create the Dry Creek Valley appellation in 1983 and was the first to label a wine as such. Yet another first was labeling his 1985 Bordeaux-style blend a “Meritage,” the same year he used the term “old vines” for a Zinfandel.
After Stare’s retirement in 2006, the winery reins were handed down to his daughter, Kim Stare Wallace, and her husband, Don. For making Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc and the Dry Creek Valley important to American wine consumers, David Stare is awarded the American Wine Legend Wine Star Award.
Published: November 18, 2021