To say that Frick Winery is a hidden gem is an understatement. The winery has a single sign on the main road leading up to the winery measuring maybe a square foot, if that. Chances are good to great you’ve even driven past it on your way into Dry Creek by way of Canyon Rd. Yet, you’d be missing out on a diamond in the clay and rocky soil that makes up Dry Creek. That’s Frick Winery.
Frick Winery is named after owner, winemaker, head tasting manager and part-time tour guide to the rest of the valley. If you’ve ever seen a one-man band, with the musician playing the drum, the cymbal, the accordion and the harmonica, Bill Frick would fit that description. Yet while one would think that keeping all of the balls up in the air would cause panic or immense concentration. However, Bill Frick has an air of calmness that would come more from an hour of meditation than from running the day-to-day operations of a winery and tasting room.
Both Bill and the tasting room emanate a sense of tranquility despite the living-room, knick-knack packed tasting room. Different furniture sit in the corners of the L-shaped room. Both wine and non-wine related objects fill every inch of shelf space.
The centerpiece that really ties the room together (no, it’s not a rug; to all you Big Lebowski fans) is the tasting counter. Holding about 10 people comfortably, it should be no surprise that he can’t easily take groups larger than six without calling first.
The wine tasting at Frick comes with a double-sided menu to choose from. The top of the list are the whites, both single varietal and a blend, aptly named Cotes du Dry Creek (pronounced Coh dü Dry Creek) in reference to the French namesake Cotes du Rhõne (of the same pronunciation). Below the whites are the single varietal reds and on the back side, the blended reds.
Bill Frick loves the grapes from the Rhone region of France. Not only in name, but in grape too. Carignane (pronounced Care-ing-yawn), Mourvedre (Moor-ved-draa) and the Cinsaut (Sin-soh) are just a few of the rarer grapes being planted by Bill. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce the French names of the grapes, Bill has helpful pronunciation guides next to all of the wines to help you correctly state what you are asking to taste next. Don’t worry if you can’t say them all perfectly. Just give it a whirl. Chances are good you’ll get close enough when asking for a Viogner, he doesn’t pour you a Grenache.
Along with the helpful pronunciation guides are recommended food pairings for the wine, which I find extremely helpful, especially with rarer grapes that you’ve probably not come across before. Wine, after all, is almost synonymous with food, and almost none pair wine and food better than the French (though most Italians might debate me on that one).
The menu also features tasting notes on what you’ll expect on that particular wine. Normally I am irritated by that, as I want to figure it out. But when you’re in uncharted waters, looking at a wine list you literally have trouble speaking the names of, it is helpful to get an idea of what you are going to taste. With such an exhaustive description of the wine on all accords, the only thing left is pretty much a picture of the grape in question. Bill has you covered on that too, by way of postcards.
Sitting in a small rotating kiosk are postcards of photographs of the grapes that you’re tasting. I took both the Grenache Blanc and the Grenache, having an almost obsession with the Grenache grape (key word being almost).
If reading about the wine, including recommended food pairings, and postcards of the grapes just doesn’t get you that close to the vineyard, simply take a break from tasting and look out of the windows.
All around the tasting room are the grapes that go into the making of the wines you’re tasting. You could call it vineyard to table, err tasting counter. Bill wanted his winery to be where the wines are being grown. As more and more wines are being produced farther and farther away from where you can sample them, it’s a welcomed sight to find such a closeness to both product and store.
It’s fun to taste at Frick as you can both read about a particular grape and then literally see the vineyard to which it comes from right out of the window. Bill’s passion comes through on talking about both vineyard and wine as if it just received a gold medal at the olympics. He’s prideful of the work he has done, but also humble, thanking each guest that purchases with his familiar phrase, “Thank you for buying my wine.”
Speaking of buying wine, Bill waives the tasting fee with the purchase of a bottle of wine. With such a fun and unique list of wines that aren’t necessarily commonplace to Dry Creek Valley, chances are fairly good you’ll walk out with at least a bottle.
Take some time to explore a few new wines you’ve probably never run across. Gaze out the windows at the rows of vineyards along the hillside. Grab a few grape postcards to send home to your family. At Frick Winery, the varietals are the spice of life.