Zinfandel was our first love. When Stephan and I were growing up and tasting wine around the dinner table with our family, we were introduced to the Zinfandels made by Ridge Vineyards and we were hooked. We were intrigued by the complexity and fruit forward style of Zin along with its approachability and balance. Zinfandel is what brought us to Paso Robles.
One of our favorite things about Zinfandel is that it tells the story of the site. We make a few single vineyard Zins every vintage and source Zin from 4-5 vineyards every year. The flavors from site to site can be dramatically different, even though they are all being grown within a 5-mile radius. The oldest vineyard that we work with is the Dante Dusi Vineyard in the Templeton gap, that was planted in 1945.
Zinfandel can be a pretty tricky wine to make. It is a very uneven ripener on the vine along with pretty thin skins. On the same cluster, you will have some ripe berries on the shoulders and raisins on the bottom, so it can be a bit of a roll of the dice when we decide to pick. Once it is in the winery, we will do a 2-day cold soak to find out what the real sugar level is, before we inoculate with yeast. Zinfandel takes a little bit longer to complete the primary fermentation and if you are not careful, the alcohols can get a bit high. Once primary fermentation is done, we will age the Zin in mostly American oak for 20 months.
Zinfandel is a wine that can be paired with a wide variety of foods. It is great with anything off of the grill or smoker but is wonderful with pizza, pastas or just for sipping before and after dinner. Because it has bigger berries and thin skin, it is not as intense as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, so it’s a little easier to drink.