Old Vine Zinfandel is becoming harder and harder to source as the vines continue to age well over a 100 years. These vines are head trained and often dry farmed allowing for minimal intervention in the vineyard which results in lower crop yields. Gregory James Wines is very fortunate to work with a grower who honors and supports the farming of these historic vines. The resulting wines are balanced, with clear Zinfandel characteristics like in this 2016 Carreras Ranch Zinfandel where you find bright cherry and blackberry with touches of raspberry on the nose. The palate is a feast of fresh picked berries, baking spices and hints of savory black pepper.
Selecting when to harvest a vineyard block is always a critical winemaking decision and there are many factors to consider. When making a harvest decision on a field blend vineyard it is even more challenging because the different varietals ripen at slightly different rates. If you are not going to go back to the same block multiple times to pick you need to harvest when you can get the best out of all the grape varietals. This Zinfandel is made using many traditional techniques with modern touches to maintain quality. The fruit is fermented in small fermentation bins where the color, flavor and aromatics are extracted from the skins and delicate punch downs are done by hand. Using native yeasts from the vineyard gives a further sense of place to this wine, fermentation was monitored closely and complete after two weeks. After pressing the juice from the skins and seeds, secondary fermentation commenced to soften the acidity of the wine. Aged for 21 months in 100% French oak, 30% new oak, before bottling in July of 2018.
The Carreras Ranch Vineyard reminds, Jim Demuth, the founder of Gregory James Wines of his love of farming and tradition. The vineyards were first planted by Italian immigrants to the Dry Creek Valley, in Sonoma County, over 100 years ago. Planted on the east side of the Dry Creek Valley, the Carreras Ranch Vineyard is situated on bench lands with volcanic soils that are rich in iron. The original vineyard blocks were planted as “field blends,” meaning the vineyard was not planted to just one varietal. The majority of the vines that are sourced for Gregory James Wines are Zinfandel, although there are some Carignane, Napa Gamay, Golden Chasellas, Petite Sirah and Grenache vines mixed in. Mixing in these blending varietals, even a few vines, has a big influence on the flavor and balance of the wine.