Zinfandel- a Great Variety for the Sierra Foothills

“Why Zin?” was the question I asked the 18 Sierra Foothill wineries who were at the yearly ZAP event in San Francisco.  Bill Easton of Terre Rouge and Easton Wines gave a great short answer:  “It has shown itself to be a great variety here in the Sierra Foothills;  it’s been 150 years in the region.  Zinfandel makes great complex wines with aging potential.”  

Zinfandel’s history in the Sierra Foothills is long and colorful.  Scott Harvey of Scott Harvey Wines notes,  “Our 1869 Vineyard off Steiner Road in the Shenandoah Valley is probably the oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard. We know the vineyard was planted in 1861. Then there is my grandfather’s vineyard, planted during prohibition.  I guess you’d have to say my grandfather was a bootlegger;  I have his “still” yet today.”

There are so many great wines to taste at this ZAP event. Here are a few picks for you to try. 

Scott & Jana Harvey,
Scott Harvey Wines
Scott Harvey’s 1869 Zinfandel is ruby-red in color, with black fruit aroma of raspberries and black cherries.  It has a complex flavor profile: raspberry, cherry, blackberry, a hint of allspice and black pepper.  The finish is long and a real palate pleaser. 14.5 percent alcohol. $45 the bottle.

Joan Kautz of Ironstone
Ironstone 2008 Amador “Deaver Vineyard” Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel.  The grapes come from a 90 year old vineyard located at 1,100 feet.  Pepper and spice are integrated into this big rich wine, with flavors of raspberries and cranberries and hints of chocolate and cherries.  15 percent alcohol.  $28 the bottle.

Beth Jones, Lava Cap Winery
2009 Lava Cap El Dorado Reserve Zinfandel, estate bottled, has lush blackberry and plum flavors and balanced tannins with a spicy pepper finish. Lava Cap is regarded as one of the premier zinfandel producers in the region.  15.1 percent alcohol, $20 the bottle.

Bill McGillivray,
Dono dal Cielo
The 2006 Donodal Cielo Zinfandel is a classic Zinfandel, reminiscent of the great Zinfandels from the late 70′s and 80′s. It has bright fruit notes with aromas and flavors of cinnamon, allspice and anise.   14 percent alcohol.  $28 the bottle.

Jonathan Lachs,
The 2009 Cedarville Estate Zinfandel, a blend from Cedarville’s four estate Zinfandel vineyard blocks with 8% Petite Sirah added for depth,  is a well-balanced wine with blackberry aromas and a long finish.      14.9 percent alcohol, $22 the bottle

Chaim & Elisheva Gur-Arieh,
C.G. Di Arie Winery
C. G.Di Arie’s 2006 Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley, is an elegant, well-balanced wine with good structure.  It’s got a little muscle.   14.6 percent alcohol, $25 the bottle.

Chris Leamy, winemaker,
Terra d'Oro Winery

Zinfandel Port
from Terra d’ Oro was a taste treat.  Using traditional Portuguese port-making techniques with Zinfandel yields a Port that’s a bit lighter in flavor,  with a raisiny character.    19 percent alcohol, $24 the bottle.

For more on Sierra Foothills wines and wineries, go to

1 comment:

  1. Zins are slowly becoming my favorite red wine. I am also finding a very wide difference in those I've tasted and reviewed, but yet, seem to enjoy these differences. The upside of this is that I have to keep searching and tasting as many producers that I can find and that is not a bad thing.