FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ZINFANDEL HERITAGE VINEYARD HARVESTS ON 9/11/04
Oakville, Napa Valley, September 2004---Zinfandel grapes from the one-acre Heritage Vineyard within UC Davis' Experimental Station in Oakville were harvested on September 11, 2004. "The quality looks excellent, and we noted a moderate amount of fruit shriveling which we associate with full ripening and high concentration of flavor," explained Professor James Wolpert, Chair, Viticulture & Enology Department, University of California, Davis, who oversees this important research vineyard.
The Heritage Vineyard is an unusual and unprecedented collection of Zinfandel selections from historic vines averaging over 80 years of age planted in vineyards all over California.
The 2004 Heritage Vineyard Zinfandel will be made by Kent Rosenblum and Jeff Cohn of Rosenblum Cellars. The 2.1 tons of grapes were trucked to the Rosenblum Winery in Alameda immediately after being harvested. The crushed fruit measures 27.6 Brix, 61 TA and 3.57 pH.
How did the fruit look? "We have a real variation in fruit this year with many different ripeness levels," explains Kent. "The fruit was sorted before crushing and destemming, with any unripe clusters being pulled out of the mix. The flavor of the ripe grapes was fantastic, with lots of blackberry, blueberry and dark cherry components."
How will the wine be made? "The grapes were gently crushed into 3 ¾ ton fermenters with 10% whole clusters. The fruit was then cold soaked for 3 days while being punched down twice a day. The must was warmed up and a different cultured yeast was added to each fermenter. We anticipate a 5 to 7 day fermentation after which the wine will be pressed to barrels and a malolactic culture added," explains Rosenblum. "We anticipate using 2 new Seguin Moreau American oak u-stave barrels and 3 one-year-old barrels of varying types. The wine will be receiving 3 to 4 rackings before being bottled next year."
Zinfandel Advocates & Producers, a group of Zinfandel-producing wineries and consumer Zinfandel enthusiasts, has supported research into Zinfandel at the Heritage Vineyard since 1998, contributing a total of $207,240. "These are the largest grants from an independent organization focused on one specific wine-grape varietal," explained Dr. James Wolpert, the Chairman, UC Davis Department of Viticulture & Enology. ZAP also funds a number of other Heritage Zinfandel projects, incluiding the Amador Foothills Experimental Vineyard, publication of a resource directory, ZinPosium and scholarships.
Each year a different ZAP winemaker member makes the wine: 1997 was made by Nils Venge (Saddleback Cellars); 1998 by Robert Biale (Robert Biale Vineyards); 1999 by Matt Cline (Trinitas Cellars); 2000 by Rod Berglund (Joseph Swan Vineyards); 2001 by Joel Peterson (Ravenswood); 2002 by Ehren Jordan (Turley Wine Cellars) and 2003 by Paul Draper (Ridge Vineyards).
Where can you taste or buy this wine? The 2001 and 2002 vintages will be offered for sale at the 2005 Festival (on January 29 at Ft. Mason in San Francisco). The 2003 Heritage Vineyard will be debuted and tasted for the first time at An Evening With The Winemakers on January 28 as part of the 2005 Festival. The 2004 vintage will be offered for sale at the 2007 Festival.
Tasting notes available at http://www.zinfandel.org/about_zin/.
In 1989 Wolpert and a team of scientists (UC Extension Viticulturalist Emeritus Amand Kasimatis, UC Extension Farm Advisors Glen McGourty, Ed Weber and Rhonda Smith) began going on "Zinfandel safaris" throughout California searching for Zinfandel vineyards planted before 1930 and specific vines which were known to produce distinctive and superb quality wine. Today the three "phases" in the Heritage Vineyard total 90 different selections from 12 different regions---Alameda, Amador, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Mendocino, Napa, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara and Sonoma Counties and the Cucamonga region in southern California. Another aspect of the ongoing research into the Zinfandel grape is Dr. Carole Meredith's search for Zinfandel's origins.
Zinfandel has an important role in American cultural history as well as American viticulture. It is the only wine grape varietal considered unique to the U.S. by the federal government. "Zinfandel is at the heart of California's contribution to the world of fine wine. Just as Europe has established the reputation of the historic varietals, California has established Zinfandel and set its standard of excellence for the world," Paul Draper explains. Stylistically, it is the most diverse wine made in the U.S. and possibly in the world. "Zinfandel is a grape variety of noble stature and we are fortunate that it has no historical stylistic context anywhere else in the world which restricts our winemakers' creativity," Dr. Wolpert explains. "Few New World wine regions have had the opportunity to create a new great wine," he adds. Numerous California Zinfandel vineyards were planted in northern California during the Gold Rush. From the 1860s to the early 1990s it was the most widely planted varietal in California; this is why Zinfandel is called "America's heritage grape."
The Heritage Vineyard is planted at 6x8 feet (row x vine) spacing in gravelly Bale loam soil on St. George rootstock. The vines are hand-pruned and trained in the "goblet" shape as they would have been in the nineteenth century. These practices are typical of all old vine plantings and a few of the young vineyards of traditionally oriented growers, because they insure low yield. However, most vineyards today are trained on trellises for higher yields. "The Heritage Vineyard requires authenticity," explains Wolpert. "We need to replicate the conditions which gave Zinfandel its reputation. Our use of St. George as the rootstock, nearly square spacing and head-trained spur-pruned vines supported only by stakes is a design you would have seen a hundred years ago. Our only concession to modern viticulture is a subsurface drip irrigation system," he adds.
What is the long-term goal of the Heritage Vineyard research? "It's our responsibility as vineyardists, winemakers, craftsmen and keepers of the flame that we seek out the purest and finest quality clones of Zinfandel in California, isolate them, nurture them, study them and then possibly make them available commercially on a large scale, all to insure that Zinfandel moves into the next millennium in its most superb incarnation," explains Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars, a ZAP vintner. "The Heritage Vineyard is a vibrant 'ongrowing' musem of the grape," adds winemaker Mary Buckles Pisor, who helped make the 1997 Heritage Vineyard Zinfandel at Saddleback Cellars. "The vineyard is of tremendous historical and viticultural interest to those fascinated by Zinfandel. For the consumer, the Heritage Vineyard is living history and provides an easily accessible demonstration of where Zinfandel is really made---in the vineyard. For the wine industry, it has special significance because it represents a resource for future plantings of Zinfandel with a broad range of selections."
Visit www.zinfandel.org to find out more about Zinfandel and join ZAP, including details of the 14th Annual Zinfandel Advocates & Producers Festival, January 26-29, 2005, in San Francisco.
Tickets go on sale October 1, 2004, from 415/345-7575. Flights! A Showcase of Zinfandels takes place on January 26 at San Francisco City College, 50 Phelan Avenue, Statler Wing, Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies, San Francisco: this is an afternoon of panel discussions and tastings. Good Eats & Zinfandel takes place on January 27 at Herbst Pavilion at Ft. Mason, San Francisco: this event pairs 36 Zinfandel producers with 36 restaurants, offering attendees an enormous array of foods to try with Zinfandel. An Elegant Evening with the Winemakers takes place on January 28 at The Mark Hopkins InterContinental Hotel, Nob Hill, San Francisco: a walk-around tasting precedes an elegant dinner created entirely around Zinfandel, followed by an auction of Zinfandel wines and Zinfandel-related items. Funds support research at The Heritage Vineyard in Oakville and other research in the Sierra Foothills. The 14th Annual ZAP Tasting takes place on January 29 at the Herbst & Festival Pavilions at Ft. Mason. More than 275 Zinfandel wineries will pour their current releases.
ZAP will be traveling to San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago and New Orleans in the spring of 2005 (watch for details at www.zinfandel.org).
ZAP is a non-profit educational 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to advancing public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history. Winegrowers and winemakers (approximately 315) and wine enthusiasts (approximately 6,000 across the U.S.) make up the membership. The common focus is the preservation and recognition of Zinfandel as America's heritage wine.
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