When David Stare opened the doors of Dry Creek Vineyard in 1972, his foresight signaled a dramatic change for Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. Dry Creek Vineyard was the first new winery to open in Dry Creek Valley since Prohibition. Guided by a new vision for a long neglected grape growing region, Stare’s initiative launched a new era in American viticulture. Furthermore, Stare’s action and vision have subsequently transformed Sonoma County and much of the way we think about American wine.
David Stare began his illustrious affair with wine in Dry Creek Valley in 1972 when he purchased a single parcel of land on Dry Creek Road, which was then nothing more than a run down prune orchard. There, he planted his first forty acres of grapes, mostly Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay. The locals ridiculed him and even the “farm experts” laughed at his folly, going so far as to exclaim, “Sauvignon Blanc will never grow successfully in Dry Creek Valley.” We wonder who is laughing now . . . well, so much for the naysayers and so called experts. It takes courage, persistence, and vision to be a pioneer.
Dry Creek Vineyard’s leadership under Stare has inspired many important changes for Sonoma County. Not only was Sonoma County’s first Sauvignon Blanc created at Dry Creek Vineyard, but new standards of quality in California have resulted from Stare’s advocacy for Bordeaux style blending, especially for red wines. Stare proposed meritage offerings, as opposed to strict varietal bottling of a single grape variety, long before almost anyone else. Yet, Stare’s greatest contribution to American viticulture is, perhaps, his success in securing appellation status for the entire Dry Creek Valley, due almost entirely to Stare’s own accomplishments and the success of his Dry Creek Vineyard. These are no mean feats for a young MIT graduate from Boston, who decided in 1971 to give up his secure but unfulfilling career in civil engineering to become a true California pioneer and a Dry Creek Valley legend.
Aside from his many personal accomplishments at Dry Creek Vineyard, David Stare has been an advocate far and wide for Sonoma County wines. He has left his pioneering spirit and entrepreneurial mark on quite a few important Sonoma County organizations. It is as if the securing of BATF approval for the creation of the Dry Creek Valley in 1983 as a distinct appellation or American Viticulture Area was just Stare’s first step in promoting Dry Creek Valley, as he went on to found an important regional organization of growers called Wine Growers of Dry Creek Valley. David Stare is, also, a founding member and past president of the California Wineries Association. In addition, he was an early supporter of The Meritage Society in California and a founding father of the Society of Blancs (SOB’s), an organization that extols and promotes the virtues of the noble Sauvignon Blanc varietal.