Page 1 of 8
An Interview with the Proprietor and Winemaker of Dutcher Crossing Winery
"When you step foot on it, you know you are home." With these simple words Debra Mathy, proprietor of Sonoma's Dutcher Crossing Winery, describes not only the experience she seeks for visitors to her Dry Creek Valley estate but also the very essence of her role in the wine industry: warmth and hospitality. Together with her talented and accomplished consulting winemaker, Kerry Damskey, Mathy aims to provide in a comfortable and inviting ambiance a truly unique and handcrafted taste of the region's fruit. I sat down with the two to discuss the vision and mission of her recently purchased winery, the focus and direction of his winemaking style, and their collective commitment to expressing the local terroir.
A relative newcomer on the Northern California landscape, Dutcher Crossing was founded in 2001 with Kerry Damskey at the helm of its winemaking. With his meticulous and attentive manner, he creates wines that balance an articulation of the winery's unique message with a sense of fidelity for that which makes Dry Creek Valley an appellation in its own rite. Utilizing years of experience in elevating winegrapes to their most exalted manifestation, Damskey employs a keen sense of place in finding vineyards that best showcase the individual varietals consistent with the founders' vision. Upon her purchase of the winery in 2007, Debra Mathy, true to her personal policy of inclusiveness and comraderie, immediately embraced his expertise, setting the tone for a business relationship as harmonious as the wines crafted under Dutcher Crossing label.
The Dutcher Crossing Approach
NM: If you were to distill the Dutcher Crossing philosophy into a phrase or two, what would that be? And how are you different from your neighbors and peers?
DM: Honestly, we have a very well-balanced three-legged stool: a beautiful site, a great family of people, and great wines. So, we have a complete package that not everybody else in the industry has the pleasure of having.
KD: It's also unique that [our wines] aren't really readily available. We're in a few restaurants, where we should be, but mostly you need to come here to get the wines. We don't utilize, in a big way, the three-tiered system. My job has been to find these vineyards, make unique wines from them, and create a really pleasurable experience for people — but they need to come here.
NM: Now why is that? Might that be limiting the marketing and reach of the Dutcher Crossing brand? And if not, why not?
DM: We've intentionally limited it out of necessity: we have not had the supply to meet the demands of the three-tiered system. We have the capability of selling out through our wine-club and direct-to-consumer. So, with demand we control the destiny of our brand. In a perfect world, just business-wise, if we don't have to give up the bottom line, it's better for us financially. Do the Mathys or Kerry need to be known in every city of the country? No. That's not why we do what we do. As we grow, we may venture into other markets. But [right now], we don't have the supply to meet that demand. And that is the sole reason that we do this.