We have long term commitments to five old-time Zinfandel growers and their vineyards have several things in common. The vines are typically between 50 and 80 years of age and are trained to an old fashioned "goblet" which is very effective in a warm Mediterranean climate. The vines are lovingly tended by the owners but since these are really small plots of land their frost alarms are sometimes as old-fashioned as their vines. One of our favorite growers is John Young. We've been purchasing his Zin for over a decade and it has been a component in 6 out of 7 vintages of our Zinfandel Old Vine Cuvée. Unfortunately their grapes didn't make it into the vintage after this release. We asked John about his frost alarm system and John was honest. His technique is dependent upon his wife Michelle and his neighbor Ray. Ray's vineyard is lower and colder than the Young's and Ray's frost pump has no muffler. Michelle is a light sleeper and usually wakes up John as soon as the neighbor's pump fires up. Either Ray wasn't home or Michelle was sleeping too soundly in Spring '05 and the grapes got frosted. Fortunately Michelle slept lightly in 2004 and their wine constitutes 12% of this blend.
Growing grapes is no nine-to-five job. Teamwork is required. John and Michelle Young inspect a bin of just picked Zin.
|Frost protection is a night job. Malcolm West lives and paints in the Anderson Valley and ventured into our vineyard one night. He writes, "I enjoy the memories I have of these grapevines growing under the moon and stars, soaking up the beauty and mystery around them while owls glide overhead... there is a great deal more than fermented grapes in a bottle of good wine."
All five growers, Tollini, Pallini, Barry, DuPratt and Young had modest crops due to small berry size which end up yielding intensely flavored wines. This is Navarro's smallest Zinfandel production in four years but there's nothing small about the bold blackberry flavors. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.
Al and Sally Tollini check the quality of their grapes before they truck them over the hill to Navarro. We try to time deliveries so growers can join us for lunch.