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Collier Falls Winery - Dry Creek Valley - Sonoma C

92 Points - Wine & Spirits magazine

What do you do for your 50th Birthday if you are a successful Hollywood film producer?

Well, if you are a person named Barry Collier, you take your wife Susan to the Napa Valley and celebrate at the swank Auberge du Soleil hotel with a candlelight dinner on its magnificent porch that everyone concedes possesses the finest view in the entire valley. The rest you leave to a combination of ambiance and fate.

“As we sat and smelled the fermentation I must say it was suddenly contagious,” Collier recently recalled. “That was in 1992 and Susan and I made a promise to each other to attempt to make a dream we had actually shared come true.” The couple started looking for property, not only in Napa Valley but also in Sonoma and other plausible locations. The process was slow and produced little success. Each time they found a property they liked, the red-hot real estate market dictated it was gone before the Colliers were able to act.

Finally, Susan Collier suggested they sell their Los Angeles area home and at least have the money ready if they found something plausible to buy.

Susan also suggested she stay in Sonoma and get her viticultural degree while Barry would return to the film production business that had done so well for them. He could make the trip up north monthly and continue the process of locating a desirable property.

In December of 1996, a piece of land in the Dry Creek Area that was owned by the prestigious Ferrari-Carano Winery suddenly became available. Barry Collier literally jumped at the chance and bought the 100 acres that included eight acres under vine and a cabin built in 1929. The first release of Collier Falls was produced from the legendary 1997 vintage that followed the Colliers’ purchase of the property.

“We actually sold almost 80% of the fruit we produced during the first three years,” Collier added. “The remainder we made into our first wines (500 cases), which we were able to designate estate bottled. It was nice that everyone appreciated our first releases.” Appreciated would be a gross understatement. The critics and periodicals went wild, awarding extremely high marks to the first public wines of Collier Falls Winery.

For the record, Collier Falls is derived from the fact that a 60-foot waterfall that runs throughout the year is the dominant feature of the Dry Creek property. The falls feed a creek (Fall Creek) on Collier’s land that eventually empties into Dry Creek and thence to the Russian River itself. Part of the creek system also involves a steelhead trout run that is federally protected.

Have all these changes affected the lives of Barry and Susan Collier? Are there any regrets?

“No, there are no regrets,” admitted Barry Collier. “The thirteen years I spent making movies were a real treat, but what we are doing now is a gift. Our sons Joshua and Adam love the winery as much as we do and might even possibly help us run it sometime in the future.” While the Colliers originally considered themselves city people, they feel the transition to country inhabitants is now complete.

“We both love the peace and tranquility,” he offered. “It is definitely a world apart from what we experienced in Hollywood. In Sonoma there is neither phoniness nor pretentiousness. Everything is basically as it is. What you see is what you get and so on. We are much more comfortable with the entire environment.” Collier Falls has planted additional acreage that brings the total under plant to twenty. Sourcing almost exclusively from their own site, Collier Falls’ wines are all considered estate grown with the exception of their Syrah Du Soleil red blend. The Syrah for this wine comes from Sue’s Block of Du Soleil Vineyard on Sonoma Coast – a vineyard block Barry’s wife planted for a friend, but now is sourced exclusively by Collier Falls.

“We have set a realistic goal of around 3,000 cases for Collier Falls Winery,” he concluded. “Most of it will be Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a small amount of Petit Syrah. And yes, we make a marvelous Zinfandel Port that’s among the finest in the entire state if I’m allowed to editorialize a bit.”

All things considered, Collier can do as he pleases. He has gone from one successful career to another and possesses tremendous upside for the present. Who could ask for anything more?

  1. Collier Falls
    2007 Zinfandel
    Collier Falls
    Dry Creek Valley


    92 - Wine & Spirits
    id: 911