Located in Healdsburg, Calif., on the cusp of the Napa/Sonoma wine region, DaVero Farms and Winery is a unique hybrid, offering a bountiful, naturally grown palette that includes jams and olive oil grown on site. It’s not just a winery; it’s a farm, which visitors can tour as well as taste. With a heralded olive tasting as well as wine tasting, baby pigs, chickens, and sheep to visit, and fresh produce also created onsite, the tasting room and winery tour here are different than any other in the area.
At this family farm, winemaker Evan LaNouette crafts elegant and textured Italian wines while farm manager Juan Valladares oversees the produce and stock. The philosophy behind owners Ridgely Evers and Colleen McGlynn’s farm is to create products they feel passionate about and draw visitors into that passion.
The farm came before the winery, with Tuscan olive trees planted in 1990, and Sangiovese grapes making up the first small vineyard planted ten years later. Whether growing grapes or olives, the owners use biodynamics, an organic farming style that utilizes a holistic approach to agriculture. The five small vineyards that make up DaVero’s wine growing are surrounded by open fields and woods, with the goal of promoting soil health and organic bio-diversity.
The owners have planted all Mediterranean varietals, with each block featuring its own unique terroir. Hawk Mountain Vineyard, the first planted, is the source of grapes for DaVero’s rich Sangiovese and multi-textured Sagrantino wines.
Valladares Vineyard, named for the winery’s farm manager, houses olive groves, fruit trees, vegetables, and DaVero’s free-range pigs and chickens. Moscato, Malvasia Bianca, and Pino Nero are among the wines drawn from this vineyard.
Partnering with other like-minded organic vintners, DaVero also crafts wines from grapes grown at the Testa Family Vineyards in Mendocino County, where Carignano is grown; Herrick Farms planted for Colcetto along the Russian River; and Schatz Family Vineyards located in the Consumnes River Valley.
DaVero’s renowned olives are hand-harvested, pressed as soon as picked using a stone wheel and blade mill. Unfiltered cold press oil is bottled in small batches. Their well-known Meyer Lemon Oil is crafted from extra-ripe olives crushed together with organic Meyer lemon skins. The juice is used for DaVero’s lemon curd and lemonade. Lemon lovers are in for a treat – as are lovers of jam and preserves jarred onsite.
But back to the wine. With vineyards kept wild to enrich the soil, and wine-making focusing on native yeasts within and on the grapes rather than commercial yeasts, these wines have a rich, pure, fresh flavor, which may also be due in part to aging in old and neutral barrels rather than oak.
Current tastings available include the 2011 Carignano, grown in the Testa Family Vineyard, which tastes of raspberry and currants. The Dolcetto, crafted from grapes grown in the Herrick Family Vineyard, has notes of spice and earth along with a complex fruity lushness. And, from the Ponzo Family Vineyard, the 2013 Primitivo – or Zinfandel as more commonly known, is both fruity and dry.
The 2014 Vermentino comes from grapes grown at the Schatz Family Vineyard. This is a light, clean white with strong notes of white pepper, ginger, and lemon. Crisp and clear, the wine is produced using the foot crush method – can’t get more organic than that.
Whether it’s wine, a charming piglet or olive oil so delicious it’s almost drinkable, DaVero makes an excellent and out-of-the-ordinary visit in the heart of Northern California’s wine country.