NORTH BAY – The Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley of which A. Rafanelli is a member looks to foster understanding of the area’s unique offerings.

Roughly 16 miles long and 2 miles wide and with close to 9,300 acres of vineyards extending along the valley floor, the valley is home to 63 wineries that produce wines ranging from zinfandels to Bordeaux and Mediterranean varietals. Dry Creek Valley has been producing wine for more than 135 years.

One of the areas that the Winegrowers of Dry Creek is focused on is multi-generational winegrowers.

“As dedicated stewards of the land and resources, family-owned, multi-generational winegrowers and vintners produce limited cases of premium wine. Most of the wineries in Dry Creek Valley are boutique establishments with small-to-medium productions,” the association’s values read.

The Dry Creek Valley continues to be farmed by many pioneering agricultural families, which the association says makes the area a richer place. The association believes that land stewardship is an integral part of the winegrower’s multi-generational perspective.

“Combined efforts to conserve Dry Creek Valley’s natural resources create an especially strong community of wine grape growers and wineries,” it says.

The valley is home to more than 150 growers, and over 98 percent is family-owned. Seventy-five percent of these wineries produce 10,000 or fewer cases annually. Dry Creek Valley is known for the production of zinfandel grapes and wine. Zinfandel has become synonymous with Dry Creek Valley because it thrives in the appellation’s geography, soil and climate.

Top Dry Creek varietals include: zinfandel, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, chardonnay and merlot.

Uncommon varietals include: grenache, mourvedre, viognier, counoise, malbec, petite sirah, marsanne and carignan.

The association puts on two events a year to promote growers and wineries, Passport and Zintopia. To learn more about the association, its members and events, visit www.wdcv.com.

Trade associations such as this may prove very important to supporting family-owned wineries in the upcoming years.

Silicon Valley Bank, a provider of commercial banking services to the wine industry, along with Scion Advisors, a wine business advisory group, did a study that showed 51 percent of Western U.S. wineries will transition to new ownership in the next 10 years.

The full research report, "Ownership Transitions in the Wine Industry," is based on a survey of family-owned wine businesses throughout California, Oregon and Washington.

According to the report, 88 percent of California wineries in business today were formed after 1975, and three-quarters are still controlled by their founders.

"The ripple effect of this change in management and ownership in the wine industry will be significant," said Rob McMillan, founder of SVB Silicon Valley Bank's Wine Division and author of SVB's Annual State of the Wine Industry report. "This widespread power shift has the potential to disrupt relationships with wine growing boards, distributors, associations and so on. This report is serving as a major wake-up call for the industry."