Delivering fully-ripe Zinfandel to Navarro in 2011 wasn't easy. A series of storms in the first week of October created crummy growing conditions and Zinfandel, with its tight clusters, is especially prone to rot. We only had a few days warning of the impending storm. We quickly harvested any of Navarro's fields that were ripe and we advised our red wine-grape growers in the Russian River Valley to do the same. “If the fruit is ripe, get it harvested before the storm!” Farming is all about crisis management and most experienced farmers have seen storms and have lost crops before. They are well aware that their performance during just two days of grace would determine a sizeable portion of their 2011 income.
Al Tollini has several blocks of Zinfandel; the wine produced from a block planted in 1932 is routinely a part of Navarro's
Old Vine Zinfandel.
We enjoy Ed Berry's determination and no-nonsense attitude in delivering his crop.
Ed Berry has a perfect site for Zinfandel and he had two blocks of 65 year old vines with deliciously ripe fruit. He sprang into action and lined up a crew right after we phoned and harvested his two best lots. Al Tollini's best field was ripe, but he decided to wait until the last minute before the storm to squeeze the last little bit of ripeness out of his 80 year old vines. This wine is a testament to the doggedly hard work of these two growers; the old-vine Zin we produce from their grapes is as intense and full of character as are the farmers who tended the vines. The fruit was destemmed, fermented in open-top tanks for two weeks then the must was pressed and the wine aged in French oak barrels for 10 months; gutsy with intimations of wild blackberries, tea and black figs. Gold Medal winner.