The heritage of the property on which the winery sets and the history of the family which has owned it since the 19th century, brings to life stories right out of the wild west.
Just a few miles south of the Sonoma Plaza on a lazy bend in Sonoma Creek, rows of Chardonnay vines soak up the Northern California sun. Inside a nearby redwood barn, barrels crafted from oak forests half a world away are filled with wines from last year's harvest.
The afternoon breeze blows in from the Bay like clockwork. It surely greeted the young Lt. Mariano G. Vallejo as he passed through on June, 1834, on his way to secularize the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma, last and north most of the 21 California missions. Vallejo established the town of Sonoma that was for many years, socially and politically superior to Yerba Buena, the trashy little town 50 miles south now called San Francisco.
What is now Sonoma Creek Winery was once the Embarcadero, farthest navigable point up Sonoma Creek from the San Francisco Bay, and the bustling gateway to Sonoma Valley. Where Chardonnay now ripens, small craft landed European visitors as early as 1823. Passengers and freight bound for Sonoma transferred here from sloops and schooners to horse-and ox-drawn carriages and wagons for the ride to the Plaza.
Beginning in 1847, steamboats docked here and turned around for the voyage back to San Francisco. It was a steamboat captain who built the Civil War-era farm house now the main office of the winery owners, Tom and Becky Larson. Tom's great grandfather, Michael Millerick, bought the house and 120 acres of land in 1899.
From 1929 to the early 1950's, the Sonoma Rodeo was held on the Millerick Ranch. The largest and longest-running rodeo in the Bay Area, it was the event of the year in Sonoma. Up to 8,000 people filled the stands, and thousands dined on beef roasted in underground pits. Each year the rodeo began with a "trail drive" -- down the highway and into the arena came a string of 50 bucking horses, all carrying the Millerick's famous Circle M brand. World champion and hall of fame cowboys competed, but the locals held their own; one year vintner August Sebastiani won a roping trophy.
On the site of their family’s old Sonoma Rodeo, where rodeo stock, racehorses and polo ponies once grazed, Tom Larson and his father, Bob, decided to plant Chardonnay in 1977. The 40 acre block on the home ranch gradually led the family far beyond home winemaking. "when we made more wine than we could drink ourselves," Tom recalls, "we got serious." In 1984, Tom earned his degree in fermentation science from the University of California at Davis. Sonoma Creek Winery was founded the same year, crushed in 1988 and released wine in 1989.
When the Larsons moved into red wine production, they looked up the valley to the warmer reaches of Sonoma to secure grapes from the finest vineyard sources. Today their portfolio of wines reflects the renowned quality and diversity of Sonoma viticulture and is comprised of super-premium varietals and ultra premium reserve and vineyard designated wines.
The history of Sonoma Creek Winery is as colorful and unique as it's rendition of a jumping horse on its wine bottle label.
Sonoma Creek Winery Chardonnay
This is a classic Sonoma County Chardonnay. Crisp grapefruit and apple flavors dance on the tongue balanced by a rich buttery toasted oak finish, which coats the mouth. An excellent combination of fruit and round silky barrel qualities gives this wine fabulous flavors and a long finish.
Sonoma Creek Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
Fresh sweet Bing and black cherry aromas plus hints of mint and olive fill the nose of this Cabernet, while in the mouth bright cranberry and cherry flavors blend with mint and dill nuances and lead to a refreshing finish.
Sonoma Creek Winery Merlot
The nose of this wine carries ample aromas of ripe plum, black cherry and dried roses. A juicy entry leads to supple textures full of red fruit flavors, including currant, raspberry, and plum.
Sonoma Creek Winery Zinfandel
The nose of this wine has jammy berry aromas. On the mouth the wine offers ripe jam flavors, as well as raspberry and black current.
Sonoma Creek Winery Pinot Noir
The wine offers a bright, fresh nose with abundant red plum and cherry varietal aromas. On the palate, the wine shows more fresh fruit, cherries and berries, with soft and juicy textures and nice balance on the finish.
Sonoma Creek Winery Gewürztraminer
Our Carneros Gewürztraminer is a rich complex Alsatian style Gewürztraminer. The fresh citrus and tropical fruit flavors blend smoothly with the complex fruity Muscat flavors indigenous to Gewurzt, to create a complex wonderful tasting wine. The cool Carneros climate produces a naturally crisp balanced wine, which will age well in years to come.