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A Story of an Old Zinfandel Vineyard

In 1899, Jacob Scherrer, my great‐grandfather, moved from Windsor CA to an 80 acre ranch he purchased in the south‐eastern bench land of Alexander Valley. His house was originally built in 1853, and some of the land was already planted to hay, hops, and grapes. Jacob died only a few years later leaving the farming to his teenage son, Fred Carl Scherrer, who, between 1911 and 1913 planted vineyards of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah (Durif). During the 1970’s and 1980’s the family has increased the vineyards to about 30 acres.

The wine I am making comes from about 3.3 acres of my grandfather’s Zinfandel planting of the 1910’s. Some petite Sirah, Petit Bouschet, and Alicante Bouschet vines have found their way into the old Zin block as replants over the past 80 years. I think this is as significant to the wine’s individuality as vine age. The wines are head‐trained and spur‐pruned in the 8’ by 8’ spacing popular in that era.

Vineyards of this type are a challenge to farm as my father, Edwin Scherrer, can tell you. It can be very frustrating for a grape grower who works twice as hard to farm old vineyards to be paid the same amount for grapes from his younger vines (10 – 20 years old), which are easier to manage and yield more fruit per acre. Then why not pull out the old vineyards and plant new ones? This is a hard question to answer. The grower should be compensated for better quality fruit, especially when it means lower yields and harder work.

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