2018 Pioneer Cuvee
Over the years we have had a number of interns work the harvest and it has been a great pleasure to be a part of the learning process for them as they start their careers. I’ve made it a priority to ensure that they see all parts of the process from harvest to helping out at our club release parties. The most recent was Christiaan, on a work visa program, from South Africa. He had not worked with the Zinfandel grape before, but found parallels in his own work experience from a harvest spent in the Douro Valley of Portugal. Many of the old vineyards there were field blends of mixed grape varieties, sometimes both red and white, that were all picked together as a “field blend”. Our old vineyards of Zinfandel here in Sonoma are often the same.
Perhaps it’s the physicist still buried deep inside me, but it just doesn’t seem rational to just hope that this random field blending will result in the best wine (although many are excellent). A more controlled method would be to pick each grape variety when at its best and then make the blend in Spring, based on tasting trials to see which is preferred. I have done this in what I think are some of the best harvests to make what I call the “Pioneer Cuvée” as a tribute to those old pioneers who planted the Sonoma vineyards more than a century ago. I’m pleased to offer this ‘18 version to represent such an excellent harvest. The wine is all from Estate grown grapes and based on the Zinfandel grown on the hillside at the back of the property with Petite Sirah added for color and structure and Grenache for acidity and red fruit. This will continue to improve for the next 3-4 years in the cellar and it is an outstanding match for anything grilled, or to just have a glass of wine. It is an interesting counterpoint to the GSP as this wine is clearly Zinfandel based with its berry flavors, while the GSP is more cherry dominant.