We began purchasing Zinfandel grapes in 1991 from several vineyards to identify the fields that produced the best wine. We've gained experience and knowledge over these two decades, and we now limit our Zin grape purchases to two top-tier vineyards: Berry Vineyards and Tollini vineyards. Ed Berry's vines were planted about 70 years ago; Navarro's section is comprised of the hillside vines on the steepest slopes that produce the most concentrated flavors. Al Tollini has three primary Zinfandel vineyards and we purchase from his oldest vines—one field is almost 90 years old and the other vineyard might be considered a youngster in this group at over 50 years of age. Navarro's best single lot of Zinfandel wine has typically been labeled as Old Vine
, however this bottling—55% Berry and 45% Tollini—was produced from grapes grown on vines with an average age of about 70 years; even this wine that we simply label as Mendocino
Zinfandel could certainly qualify for old vine
status! One of Navarro's winemaking goals is producing wines with a suave mouthfeel. The tannins from grape skins and oak barrels are perceived as astringent (good), while seed tannins are perceived as bitter (bad).
One of Al's head-trained, 86-year-old grapevines. Luxuries like an expensive trellis with fruit wires were out of the question for the immigrant farmer, so the vine was trained into an upright trunk that needed no support. The lack of trellis limits production, but one can see that most of the fruit is in the shade in the middle of the day, which is highly desirable from a wine quality standpoint.