This vineyard block was planted in 1974 by my grandfather (who planted the old vines in 1912), my dad and help from a teenage Fred. I have been making wine from it for over 20 years now and it has found a home in both Old & Mature Vines and Zinfandoodle. It’s only been in the past 4 vintages however that I have really understood how to work with it. I’ve realized it to be a truly special, compelling site worthy of individual bottling when quantities are sufficient to still give OMV and Zinfandoodle what they may require in a given vintage.
Situated on a steep south-facing slope with a very fluffy, quickly warming soil, it tends to bloom very early in the year when breezes can be powerful enough to cause few seeds to form. This gives a very high proportion of tiny berries that can easily dry up in a late season heat spell. The steep south-facing slope exacerbates this tendency because it is highly exposed to the elements, so it is important to harvest this block rather early compared to metrics others might use in different sites. My dad used to regularly tell me I needed to pick this block earlier. He was right. It just took me a while.
This block has a lot of blue fruit [which I find exciting in Zinfandel], beautiful perfumed aromatics, some red zinger tea, and with less of the darker, deeper tones of our Old & Mature Vines blend. These mid-range tones are different and really special. Like a cousin to ‘The Shale Terrace’, this is an unusual representation of Zinfandel compared to what is often expressed these days. Although I already make so many individual wines, this really demanded to be separate-and not just as a one-off.
Many people would think we would bottle this beautiful area separately all the time, as well as the Old vineyard planted in 1912 for some valid personality reasons as well as marketing reasons. We don’t. We only do it when the situation is just right, and our normal wines are not compromised. I think they are special and they are the core of what we can bring to people in pretty much any kind of vintage. For example, we bottled an old vine once-in-a-lifetime Centennial, a couple of ‘special cuvées’, a 100% varietal Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Vin Rouge’ that was a total sleeper, etc. because of the material at hand. I take these things seriously (as far as a winemaking perspective) and understand the consequences of one-offs or short runs of a popular item. No smoke. No mirrors. No hype. Just my honest opinion.