Unraveling the mysteries of Old Vine Zinfandel

by Jana Harvey on March 19, 2009

The term “Old Vine” is thrown around a whole bunch these days, but what does it really mean and why should we care?
     There is no legal or even generally agreed upon definition for old vine.  Vines begin to produce smaller crops and average yields decrease after about 20 years so. Some wineries will start calling their vines old after that time.  Scott has always been under the impression that if he can remember when a vineyard was planted it’s not “Old Vine”. 
     However you want to define it the reason people want old vine fruit is because it produces more multi dimensional and complex wines.  The reason for this is that as a vine grows, its roots plunge down into the earth deeper and deeper. As they go further down, they break through multiple layers of soil picking up the attributes that the different soil types have to offer.  
     Phylloxera came through California and wiped out a lot of the old vines that were growing so there are not a lot of Vineyards that are over 100 years old.  However some vineyards did survive due to their sandy soil type that phylloxera can’t survive in.  We are lucky enough to have one of these vineyards and not only is it old, it is the Oldest Documented Zinfandel Vineyard in the Country!  The wine we make from this vineyard is called Vineyard 1869 because of its existence noted in a deed from an 1869 U.S.
geological survey signed by Ulysses S. Grant.  Vineyard1869b  We are releasing our new vintage of  2006 Vineyard 1869 this month.  View our video to get an idea of what makes this wine so special.


 


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