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Monday, June 23, 2014

Where to learn about Zinfandel

Where? Dry Creek Valley! This is Zin Central. Others might want to argue in favor of Lodi or Paso Robles or Amador or Russian River Valley, but Dry Creek is all about Zinfandel.

As it turns out lots of people don't really know much about "America's grape." Okay, it didn't originate here, but it's home is now in Dry Creek Valley. There are many reasons people will give for living or moving to Sonoma County--one should be Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.

So many wines ...

Zinfandel is made it different styles running from relatively lower alcohol, structured, ageable wines to the big higher alcohol, soft (low acid), fruity style--or sometimes referred to as "elegant" vs. "fruit bomb." Zinfandel can make a wonderful wine good for many different foods or be enjoyed just all by itself. Zinfandel is also a relative bargain amongst premium red wines as Cab, Merlot, and definitely Pinot all sell for more.

The highly-regarded Maple Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley
Image from

The best way to learn what you like is to visit Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. Here are suggestions for quality producers that cover the range of Zinfandel styles, but there are many, many more in Sonoma County. These wineries make other wines besides Zinfandel, but they all specialize in Zin and are all open for drop-in visitors. You'll want some pizza, BBQ, sausages, burgers, and pasta to go with you Zin, too.

Small lots of several different Zins. Cave tours by appt.

David Coffaro
He makes several different Zins and several different blends from his vineyard so there are many delicious small lot wines.

They make lots of single-vineyard Zinfandels. Mazzocco has a loyal following.

If you are all about stylish food with elegant wine then this is the place for you. Limited hours for drop-in visitors.

Lou has been in the Zin biz for quite awhile. His farm is the only place you can buy the wines. Try the Syrah blends while you're there.

Ridge - Lytton Springs
To some this is the definitive Zin producer. They make lots of different ones with a few being available for tasting at any one time. The old vineyard next door is picturesque.

A long-time Zinfandel producer where they believe any great bottle of wine deserves a great meal (part of their Italian heritage).

The Wilson family also owns Mazzocco, and several other area wineries. The wine styles are very similar. Wilson wins lots of awards.

There are dozens and dozens more from Amista to Zichichi making wonderful Zinfandel. Okay, maybe you'll want a couple weeks to really explore Zinfandel. And once you're done with Dry Creek Valley you'll want to check out the Zins from Rockpile, Russian River, and Sonoma Valley. Whew!

After exploring Sonoma County you'll want to schedule time for my other favorite Zinfandel region -- Amador County in the Sierra Foothills.