The word amphora is Latin, derived from the Greek amphoreus for a two-handled vessel that holds wine. When Rick Hutchinson--who discovered his passion for creating exquisite wines and pottery at an early age--started his winery, he chose a name that marries them both: Amphora Winery.
In 1997, he produced his first vintage: 218 cases of Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Zinfandel. For seven subsequent years, he ran his operation from the basement of a rented prune barn. In 2005, he moved to a 6,000-square-foot facility. Today, he produces 5,000 cases annually, including 14 current releases from family-run vineyards.
Long before he developed Amphora Winery, Rick began his career at Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery when he was just 20 years old. He spent two decades working in wineries in the Napa Valley and Sonoma. He considers Doug Nalle, Grady Wann, John Kongsgaard, and Mike Duffy to be his mentors.
Rick says his winemaking style is all about balance. "Vines and wines are like people," Rick says. "Those with good balance live longer and age more gracefully. The total wine experience--the bouquet, the mouthfeel, and the taste--should be all-pleasing."
Amphora wines are certainly pleasing a lot of people. The 2007 Peters Pinot Noir recently received 92 points from Wine Spectator, the 2007 Peters Chardonnay earned double gold at Sonoma's 2009 North of the Gate Wine Competition, and the 2006 Dry Creek Zinfandel won a Best of Class at the2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Finding the best rootstock on which to graft the perfect clone and matching each with the unique soil profile of Dry Creek Valley is an ongoing job. And sustainability is paramount. Rick adopts as many ecologically sound practices at the winery as possible. And he likes working closely with the people growing his grapes. "The best contract I have is a handshake with the person driving the tractor," he says.
Amphora wines are skillfully blended to produce rich, elegant, fruit-forward wines that reflect Rick's passion for the art of winemaking.
What to Buy
'07 Zinfandel A. Forchini/ Watson Vineyard Cherry, fruit leather, licorice root, cocoa powder, black raspberry $26
'07 Chardonnay Peters Vineyard Full, creamy, vibrant quince, spiced apple $30
'07 Malbec Molinari Vineyard White pepper, cherry, red plum, vanilla, Bing cherry $50
'07 Pinot Noir Peters Vineyard Cherry, pomegranate, watermelon, tart cherry, red currant, raspberry $36
Located 1.5 miles north of Lambert Bridge Rd. Directions can be found on the website or by calling the winery.