Williamson Wines winemaker Kerry Damskey is back on California Wine Country with Steve Jaxon and Dan Berger. The last time he was on CWC was this episode of March 21, 2018. Kerry is an independent winemaking consultant with clients around the world under the name Terroir Artisan Wines.
Before we begin, Dan Berger has brought another Cellar Dweller to discover and discuss, a 2016 Tercos and comes from Argentina. The grape is Torrantes. It was really floral and tropical when he first tasted it and now it is drier. The location is at the foot of the Andes in the Mendoza region. When Dan visited there, it was in the middle of their summer and there was snow on the distant Andean peaks. The aromatic profile of this varietal is roses, citrus and melon. It was not supposed to be aged this long but Dan lost it in the cellar. The importer is in San Francisco so this wine is more available in the Bay Area than anywhere else.
The Williamson winery was founded in 1980. The founders Don and Bill Williamson are the great grand-children of immigrants transported to Australia in 1788. Their home vineyard is in Dry Creek but they source fruit from all over Sonoma County. Kerry’s first vintage for Williamson was 2006.
Kerry Damsey grew up in Berkeley and went to UC Davis for viticulture and enology. He worked overseeing a large winery in Lodi, then moved to San Diego County where he met Dan Berger. He was the winemaker in a new winemaking area outside San Diego County that his wife said looked like the moon. Gamay was Dan’s favorite wine that Kerry makes and Kerry is making Gamay again now, with his son.
Williamson Wines has a tasting room for the public and another one that is exclusively for their reserve wines. They are in Healdsburg on Matheson Street.
Tasting Williamson Wines
The first wine is a 2021 Pinot Noir, called Passion. The fruit comes predominately from the Vine Hill area of Russian River Valley. Its typicity is rose petal flavors. It is very young but the ripe cherry flavors are prominent. Dan thinks it will be better after a couple of years. 2021 was a perfect vintage. There were no fires, a drought year, so a small crop. It’s Pinot Noir heaven there, near Dehlinger, Merry Edwards and Emeritus (and Balletto).
“Vine Hill Road is probably right at the top.”
They do a sparkling Malbec and a sparkling Shiraz. Dan explains that the tannins in red wines make them difficult to make sparkling. Kerry explains how he does it.
The Williamson tasting room has mostly red wines but they also do some Riesling, Charnonnay and Gewurtztraminer. See the website for the latest offerings. They do a seated tasting with wine and selected cheeses and food bites. Tastings begin every 90 minutes from 11am-5pm daily. They also have an unusual selection of fine cheeses.
They also taste a wine called Ravish, from 2014. This would be a wine from the reserve tasting room. It is a Bordeaux blend mostly Merlot, with some Cabernet Franc. Appellation is Dry Creek Valley. It is a dark color but softer with lower tannins.