press release - Oakville, NapaValley, October 2012--- 2.18 tons of Zinfandel from the Heritage Vineyard (located within the University of California, Davis’ Viticultural Station in Oakville) were harvested on September 26, according to research associate Mike Anderson and winemaker Chris Leamy. “It was a great growing season; the fruit looked to be at optimal ripeness. Zin is notoriously uneven ripening, and we managed to catch the field before we had too many raisins. I expect the finished wine to show very vibrant, juicy fruit character,” Leamy explained.
With photographs taken during harvest by Napa photographer Jasmine Kelley, ZAP created a video, visible at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDo6H-gTLHE.
What is the significance of this vineyard? “The Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard Project is an extensive collection of rare and famous Zinfandel vine cuttings gathered from many sites throughout California,” explains Rebecca Robinson, ZAP’s Executive Director. The Heritage Vineyard was originally established at the UC Davis Oakville Research Station in 1995. “It is an unprecedented example of research being supported by a wine organization,” she adds. “It’s our responsibility as vineyardists, winemakers, craftsmen and ‘keepers of the flame,’ that we seek out the purest and finest quality clones of Zinfandel in California, isolate them, nurture them, study them and then make them available commercially on a large scale, all to ensure that Zinfandel moves into the next millennium in its most superb incarnation,” explains Doug Beckett of Peachy Canyon Winery
The grapes were harvested at 23.8 degrees Brix, 3.56 pH and TA of .60 g/L with data taken that included berry weight, berries per cluster, cluster weight and clusters per vine. The grapes then traveled to two destinations: one lot went to the new winery at UC Davis to be vinified as part of ongoing research underwritten by Zinfandel Advocates & Producers. This will be the second year that wine from the separate selections is vinified at UC Davis.
The rest of the grapes were brought to Terra d’Oro Winery in Plymouth, AmadorCounty---eventually to be bottled as The Heritage Vineyard Zinfandel under ZAP’s auspices. They were destemmed and only light-crushed, leaving a good amount of whole berries, into half ton fermenting bins. The bins cold soaked for three days, then each of the four bins was inoculated with a different strain of yeast. “We are building complexity in the final wine by using different yeast strains,” Leamy continues. The fermenters were hand punched down four time daily. The wine will be pressed to second fill and neutral American oak barrels for about 18 months of aging. “The second fill barrels impart a much more elegant oak signature. This will result in a great fruit/oak balance, really allowing the Zinfandel character to shine,” he adds.
The Heritage Vineyard wines are always available for tasting and purchase at ZAP’s Annual Festival. The next opportunity will be on January 31, 2013 at Epicuria, on February 1, 2013 at the Zinfandel Winemakers’ Dinner and on February 2, 2013 at the Grand Zinfandel Tasting.
The Heritage Vineyard research has consisted of three phases. Phase I was the “Library” planting, where seven vines from each of 90 unreplicated selections were planted to test the question of significant variability in Zinfandel. Phase II, Replicated Planting, consisted of fewer selections with more vines planted to provide the basis for research into clonal performance and allow for winemaking on an industry-size scale. Screening required by the California Department of Food and Agriculture was conducted to allow for certification and release to nurseries. Phase III is the outreach, where the project was expanded to additional areas (Sonoma and Dry Creek Valleys, Sonoma County; and Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County) to understand the role of local climates in producing Zinfandel.
ZAP members have become collaborators, using UC Davis’ protocol to expand planning and plant-replicated experimental vineyards to more traditional Zinfandel growing regions. “The Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard Project has been a fruitful collaboration with a primary goal of providing superior Zinfandel selections to growers as the basis for future plantings,” Robinson explains. In 2009 UC Davis’ Foundation Plant Services released 19 Zinfandel selections to nurseries. While these selections require more evaluation in traditional Zinfandel growing regions, they hold the promise of strengthening the reputation of Zinfandel as the premier historic wine grape of California. “Together UC Davis and ZAP continue to work toward preserving Zinfandel’s heritage while expanding the range of rootstock available to growers,” says Robinson.
Each year a different ZAP winemaker member makes the wine: 1997 was made by Nils Venge (Saddleback Cellars); 1998 by Robert Biale (Robert Biale Vineyards); 1999 by Matt Cline (Trinitas Cellars); 2000 by Rod Berglund (Joseph Swan Vineyards); 2001 by Joel Peterson (Ravenswood); 2002 by Ehren Jordan (Turley Wine Cellars), 2003 by Paul Draper (Ridge Vineyards), 2004 by Kent Rosenblum (Rosenblum Wine Cellars), 2005 by William Knuttel (Dry Creek Vineyard & Ottimino), 2006 by Jerry Seps (Storybook Mountain Vineyard), 2007 by Joel Peterson (Ravenswood), 2008 by Tom Mackey (St. Francis Winery), 2009 by Pete Seghesio (Seghesio Family Vineyards), 2010 by Diane Wilson (Wilson Family Winery) and 2011 by Scott Harvey (Scott Harvey Wines).
Tasting notes available at http://www.zinfandel.org/about_zin/.
For more about the ongoing research at The Heritage Vineyard: http://zinfandel.org/default.asp?n1=18&n2=790&member=
For more information:
Chris Leamy, 916/838-8466, email@example.com or Mike Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 530/304-1123.