Located in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, idyllic Cāpo Creek Ranch is known for its incredible food pairings and inspiring head chef/winemaker as much as it is its Rhône varietals and Zin.
Before getting into the paradise on mountain high that is Cāpo Creek Ranch, let’s talk about Mary Roy. Roy, who founded Cāpo Creek with her husband Bob Covert, is an everyday hero. She wears her cape on the inside.
First, she is a physician. She and Covert owned Midwest Center for Advanced Imaging in Naperville, Ill., for years. They focused on offering cutting-edge, state-of-the-art technology, including 3D mammograms. She is also a mother of six (and now at least five grandchildren).
Now wait for it…Roy is also a self-taught chef and completed her Winemaker Certificate from UC Davis. Then, she completed Levels 1 and 2 of the International Sommelier Guild certification process.
OK, let’s get into the winery itself.
Roy got interested in winemaking after a visit to Sonoma – a side trip while playing hooky from a West Coast medical conference, no less! So much so, in 2013 Roy and Covert purchased what used to be Dry Creek Valley Vineyard in the Healdsburg region with big plans. Roy’s sister Nadine – who today runs the day-to-day operations – and sister-in-law Peg invested in the vineyard as well, making it a family affair and proud LGBTQA winery. Among their first investments: building a wine cave on property and installing a full kitchen in addition to planting Rhône varietals – think Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Viognier – in addition to the Zinfandel already planted.
The team named the oasis that felt about a zillion miles from their regular lives Cāpo Creek as homage to an actual cāpo, which is a device used on the neck of a guitar to shorten the strings and raise the pitch. The small-but-mighty device makes magic; the same thing they hope their small-but-mighty vineyard does for all those who visit and sip their wines.
Today, Roy is not only the vineyard’s head winemaker but its executive chef as well. Given this, a visit to the vineyard without a food pairing simply will not do.
As such, when preparing to visit, pre-book the Ultimate Food and Wine Pairing ($165 per person) or the Ultimate Food and Wine Pairing with a Kubota Tour ($290 per person). Both experiences include a six-course al fresco wine tasting and dining adventure with a view beyond your wildest dreams. Every single dish on the seasonally changing menu is from the imagination and hands of Roy, often with her sister or hubby pouring wines alongside her. A typical experience will include a combination of elevated comfort foods – think a whimsical take on a pierogi or hearty soup served in a teacup – as well as more outside-of-the-box offerings for a winery – perhaps an Asian-inspired wonton topped with Ahi and a house hot sauce. The wine pairings are ample and generous, so best to set up a driver in advance.
For those who book the Kubota enhancement, expect a wild ride in what feels equal parts tractor and ATV followed by a private tour of the wine cave, with sips along the way.
In addition to these experiences and a more traditional tasting, there is also a chocolate – yes, Roy makes her own chocolate, too – and wine pairing as well as a Greenhouse Tasting, which is limited to six and hosted in the vineyard’s actual working greenhouse.
As for best bets when it comes to bottles, there isn’t a loser in the bunch. However, we do have a few favorites (these are the wines that as a member we order over and over again):
2020 Songwriter Red: This red blend made from Zinfandel and Petite Sirah has a little something for everyone. We love it for the juicy berry notes and hint of cherry and marvel at the smoky, almost woody essence. While Roy may roll her eyes at this description, it is the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus of wines, meaning it is the best of both worlds. $65
2020 Open Mic: We often feel Grenache Noir is among the more underused and underappreciated wine varietals. Here, it is allowed to shine alongside Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise and a teeny bit of Cinsault. This is a perfect food wine, meaning we drink it with virtually any food and are as happy as a clam (and yes, it can even work with a clam in a pinch). $65
2021 Estate Rose: While we don’t condone drinking to excess, this is what we would call a porch or pool pounder, meaning it is perfect outside all summer long. Try combining it with ice and fruit – strawberries and peaches are best because that is what we taste in every sip – and use it as sangria on its own (or add a little brandy). $28
To learn more about Cāpo Creek Ranch, visit www.capocreekranch.com.