Starting in 1996, with a barrel tasting of the first vintage of their classy Meritage wine, “Reflections,” the Kreck family has celebrated each succeeding blend with a gala dinner party. A special benefit for those attending that first party was the opportunity to buy futures – i.e. purchase a case or so of that first Reflections, vintage 1994, to be delivered in 1997, when winemaker Hank Skewis and Mill Creek Winery owners Bill and Yvonne Kreck decided it was ready for release.
All the grapes for Reflections come from seven gently sloping, south-facing acres surrounding the Krecks’ family home in the Chalk Hill appellation. The mix in the vineyard, planted in spring 1992, is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, with 10% composed of Cabernet Franc vines tucked into choice blocks. Each grape variety is picked separately, at ideal ripeness, and held separate until blending. The blended wines spend two years in the barrel, go through full malolactic fermentation, and spend an additional year in the bottle. This aging program ensures that each new Reflections will be ready to drink the day it is released.
The 1994 vintage only resulted in 72 cases. Most vintages since then have hovered around the 120 case size. The 2001, which will be released next August reached a production level of 209 cases. In recent years, the Krecks have held a few cases back from the futures sale of each vintage to be offered in the tasting room and to local restaurateurs, but even so, you have to act fast to carry home a bottle or two.
Naturally, Reflections is not the only wine produced by Mill Creek. There are elegant Chardonnays, a delightful Gewürztraminer, spicy Sauvignon Blanc, a full, rich Zinfandel and dynamite Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons. It is just that Reflections is so special, and the annual welcoming party so enjoyable that it deserves a special mention. It is not available for purchase on line, as are the other wines, so a trip to the winery, which would be a pleasant expenditure of time, would be necessary to become familiar with this star in the Kreck crown.
Mill Creek Vineyards is at 1401 Westside Road, west of Healdsburg. Tasting room hours are ten am to five pm. For information, call 707-431-2121.