Zinfandelic wines - Old Vine Zinfandel from California
Zinfandel grape bunches

Old Vine Zinfandel grapes
develop earthy, spicy notes and
terroir-driven flavors

Old Vine Zinfandel

Knotted old Zinfandel vine in Sierra Foothills California
Zinfandelic harvests its grapes from some of the oldest Zinfandel vines California. Why are we passionate about using these grapes? Old vines come with plenty of drawbacks, but properly cultivated and handled, the reward is thought-provoking, complex wines that convey the taste of the history of the land.

One of the charms of old-vine Zinfandel is the way the grapes express the taste of the soil and climate the terroir - where they have spent so many decades. A grape vine has a viable life of about 120 years. After a couple of decades, there is a noticeable decline in yield as the vines produce fewer grape clusters. So for industrial production, that becomes and economic problem, so typically large-scale growers replant vines after 25 years. But for craft wines, lower yields mean more concentrated fruit with more intense flavors. As vines age, they also become more susceptible to vineyard diseases. Zinfandel vines in particular can suffer from Dead Arm disease, further inhibiting yields and creating that gnarly look but likewise also further concentrating the juice. Old-vine Zin grapes develop earthy, spicy notes and terroir-driven flavors of briar, licorice and slate. The older the vines, the lower the yield and the more they struggle to concentrate their fading life essence into a few tiny clusters of grapes.

Zinfandel is sometimes thought to be uniquely American and specific to California. But Zinfandel is actually a genetic derivative of a wild Croatian grape. It came to California from the East Coast in the 1840s during the Gold Rush era. Zinfandel was a prolific grape that flourished in California and soon was planted everywhere as demand for wine increased in the late 1800s. It survived the Prohibition era by serving up hardy, flavorful grapes able to withstand shipping to home winemakers.

The Sierra Foothills regions along to the path to Gold Country remains home to some of these vines originally planted in the mid- to late-1800s. Our grapes harvested here produce nuanced, spicy, earthy and complex wine. As Zinfandelic opens in your glass, look for those terroir-driven flavors and see what you can pick out. And enjoy a trip back in time.

Learn more about the history of Zinfandel


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