Christie Kiley on June 22, 2015 0 Comments Just last week, I happened to mention the word “Zinfandel”. I was craving some myself, so why not share it with all of you? Most of you have at least heard of the grape. For some of you, it might be your favorite red wine when you are craving simplicity and richness. Zinfandel was the very grape which put California on the winemaking map. Its origins come from Croatia. Many immigrants from here and Russia came to the states and moved out west to seek a more simpler and freer life and they planted this vine in many of the valleys north of the Bay where you still find it thriving today. Zinfandel thrives in the maritime climates, nestled in valleys that are tucked away from the cool ocean breezes where they can get the warmth of the sun in the days. Yet, it is these ocean winds which allow for the climate to remain constant. This creates for fruit with an ideal balance of sugars and other components key to structure, flavor and aromatics; all of which make wine enjoyable. If you are on the search for that great, All-American red wine for the summer, the Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel is a good place to start. The Seghesio Story This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this notable winery. It has been five generations since the story of this family wine business started. One-hundred and twenty years have gone by with many challenges and determination to keep their passions going. It was Edoardo and Angela who worked their vineyards and kept them going, even through Prohibition. They are one of about one-hundred wineries who managed to keep afloat during that time. Following the end of Prohibition, the Seghesio family got in the business of selling their fruit and wine in bulk to wineries of California. A generation later, Ted, a member of the fourth generation made the decision to give their family business a label of their own and started making wine. Along with his cousin, Pete, they built up the Seghesio family legacy and created their famous association with Zinfandel wine. Today, Ted is still the winemaker and Pete is the winery’s ambassador. The rest of the family works in other aspects of the winery, both front- and back-of-house. Even the fifth generation is aboard, with Ned as their manager of viticulture and grower relations. Their Craft The Seghesio way of making wine is the only way they have ever done it, by hand. Following university in 1976, Ted returned home to help out in the family vineyards. It was only a year later that his mother encouraged him to study oenology at the University of California Davis. Ted came back to Sonoma in 1979 and began transforming the family business which was mainly selling grapes and selling off bulk wine into an artisanal winemaking facility. Making wines under the family’s name was the original dream of his mother and he sought out to make that dream come true. Unfortunately, his mother passed away while he was studying and never witnessed her dream coming to fruition, but she knew it would. The very first wines were released in 1983. Their almost immediate success was no accident as growing quality fruit was something the family had done for generations. Their determination has paid off with many of their wines making top scores with the critics and national wine competitions. Their Vineyards Though they grow other varieties, the Seghesio family knows Zinfandel best. It is one of the most challenging grapes to grow as each berry tends to mature at different times. In order to meet the challenge, they manage with crop thinning and cultivate vines which are properly stressed. In turn the vines will produce tighter clusters and more concentrated and smaller berries. In 2003 they began farming under more sustainable practices. Their goal is to produce grapes and wine with the greenest methods possible. They are dedicated to conserving water and energy throughout the entire process. They are part of the Fish Friendly Farming Certification Program to protect the surrounding rivers and streams that could be affected by runoff. They work with natural flora for cover crop and use it to help reduce the negative effects of pests. No chemicals are used in the planting of new vineyards. All of their grape skins and other materials which remain after press are later composted into the vineyards for natural fertilizer. These are just some of the things they do in the present, but they have many more goals in mind to improve with each year to make their winery more efficient and sustainable for themselves and future generations. The Old Vine Zinfandel This wine is one of their classics made from their vines found in Dry Creek and Alexander Valley. The vines of these vineyards are a minimum of fifty years, though the average age of their older vines is seventy years. The age of the vines are not only a pretty sight to see in the vineyards, but older vines only grow a limited amount of fruit. Fruit of these older vines are more complex and in tune with the terroir and soil of the vineyard, which makes for many unique layers in a wine other than fruit notes. The Seghesio 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel is savory, slightly sweet and spicy. On the nose, there are notes of plum and fresh, juicy blackberries and bell peppers. The first sip is satisfying with flavors of fresh and ripe berries, plum, blueberries and a finish of anise and Christmas spice. This is a great summer red and Zinfandel does not get more All-American than this. Be sure to have this on hand for all the great barbecues in your future.