For the third year in a row, the lot of wine selected for Navarro's Old Vine Cuvée
was produced from grapes grown at Berry Vineyards, located southeast of Ukiah. We've purchased Berry's Zinfandel since 2004 and we're always pleased with the consistent quality of fruit grown on these 70-year-old vines. Ed Berry always delivers his Zinfandel grapes over a couple of days and we've noticed that the fruit from the first day's picking is frequently our best lot of Zinfandel. At first we thought that the faster the Berry Zin ripened, the better the fruit, but then we realized it was something else. Ed Berry, like most farmers, has to be super-organized to get all the work done on time—nature doesn't wait for dawdlers. Ed is definitely organized and we realized in a recent conversation that he has a specific order in how he harvests from the different blocks. Ed likes getting the hard work out of the way, so he always harvests the fruit from vines on the steepest slope first! No wonder we like the first day's picking so much; these hillside vines are planted on thinner soil with a limited capacity to retain water. As a result, the vines bear a lighter crop and have to send their roots deep to survive; the sense of place is revealed front and center.
Ed Berry Jr. during harvest. This bottling is our 17th harvest from this vineyard. We can always count on Ed delivering ripe fruit. In the difficult 2011 vintage, Ed didn't think the quality of his Cabernet Sauvignon grapes was up to his standards for fruit delivered to Navarro, so he refused to sell us the grapes! Not every grower has this commitment to long-term relationships.
Old-timers Ed Berry Sr. and Ted schmoozing after Ed delivered his Zinfandel grapes. We enjoy purchasing berries from the Berry family; usually Ed Jr. delivers the grapes, but it's a special treat when Ed Sr. and Donna visit and share a meal with us.
The 2016 grapes were destemmed into a stainless-steel tank where we punched down twice daily during fermentation; after pressing, the raw wine was racked to seasoned French oak barrels to age for 11 months before bottling. Full-bodied with suggestions of blackberry, plum, chocolate and black pepper. Silver Medal winner.
Jim, Aaron and Lynne tasting Zinfandel lots at a staff morning tasting. The first tasting for a particular varietal is to assess the relative quality of each lot. We produced six different lots of Zinfandel in 2016 and this bottling is from Berry's first day's picking of hillside fruit.