Zinfandel grows very, very well in Amador. And, it has been growing here for a very long time. The original Grandpère vineyard across the street from Renwood Winery is acknowledged as the oldest, continuously producing zinfandel vineyard in the United States.
What are some of the factors that contribute to growing great zin? According to Joe Shebl, Winemaker and General Manager at Renwood Winery: it’s weather, soil, artisan production, and the micro-climates.
“We have dramatic shifts in diurnal temperatures,” he says, “as much as 40 degrees.” That means temperatures that reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon might cool to 50 degrees in the night. “This helps grapes maintain a really good natural acidity, a vibrancy. And that translates to a wonderful range of styles in the wine – from bright red fruit to heavier plums and blackberries."
"Little pockets of vineyards, set amidst the rolling hills create fruits that are so distinctive from vintage to vintage."
"Not to be cliché," he adds, "but Amador is a veritable mosaic of microclimates. Little pockets of vineyards, set amidst the rolling hills create fruits that are so distinctive from vintage to vintage. There are not big swaths of vineyards that cover extensive acreages that you will find in larger valleys. Here the hills are tighter, the rise to the mountains closer, and the land snakes individually along ridges, rises, rivers, and diverse geological landscaping."
Joe sees this expression best enunciated in the Signature Series. What is the difference in taste profile, you ask?
|One of our darkest wines. Plum and ultra-ripe cherries.||Fox Creek 66%, Habacht 20%, Veauta 6%,
NCBP 4%, Oakmont 4%
|100% Zin||Blueberry, cinnamon to start; orange zest and marmalade mid-point to finish||Habcht 72%, D’Agostini 16%, Deaver 12%|
|Bright red fruit, vanilla and cedar.||Fox Creek 76%, Kirkland 18%, Veauta 6%|
7% Petite Sirah
|Dark red fruit, clove, cocoa and dried herbs.||Deaver 66%,
Fox Creek 28%, Bailey 7%
|86% Zin, 11% Petite Sirah, 2% Syrah,
|This wine is from multiple vineyard sources, it is dark and dusky with raspberries, dried herbs, and cocoa dust.||Kirkland 32%,
Fox Creek 26%, Bowling 26%, plus others.
We’ve finished what I’m going to call one of the best vintages in the past 10 years here at Renwood. I am so thrilled to back where my career began and to be working with such an outstanding group of motivated professionals.
The Vintage of 2013 is my 15th year doing what I call a “pinch-yourself-profession”, and I’m as excited I’ve ever been to be making wine here in Amador County (actually, I’m giddy like a little kid!!). I started here at Renwood right out of College after obtaining my degree in Biology and Chemistry at Sacramento State University. My first job was as a Cellar hand, cleaning and sanitizing tanks and doing whatever I could to learn and get better. Shortly after, I moved up into the winery laboratory as enologist and a few years later I was promoted to Assistant Winemaker then Winemaker. In 2009, I left Renwood to work on a few other local projects and now, 4 years later, I’ve come back full circle as Director of Winemaking to where I truly feel like I belong.
Ok, now for the fun stuff. The 2011 wines have all been bottled and are looking extremely fruity and elegant to this point and are only going to get better with time. Keep an eye out when you visit our beautifully renovated Tasting Room for some of the new releases. The menu is always changing so each visit is likely to bring you new and interesting surprises. As for the 2012’s that are aging quietly in barrel; this to, is a vintage that is likely to be talked about for years to come. In my next note to you, I’ll fill you in a bit more on some of the outstanding wines that are coming your way.
We have been seriously blessed here in Amador with the vintage of the decade. The vines in 2013 yielded some of the most flavorful and balanced fruit I’ve ever seen. This has directly translated into new wines that are profound and bold yet have retained deep layers of fruity complexity that can give a guy like me chills.
I’ve implemented lots of changes here to help increase our overall wine quality. We were the first winery to ever pick at night in the Shenandoah Valley. We brought in mobile light towers to some of our apex vineyards and we began picking the fruit at 3:00 AM. Yes, it’s crazy! But by doing this we are ensured to get the coldest, freshest fruit into our tanks, which is my highest priority at this critical stage of the process. The other big change has occurred at the crusher. We no longer “crush” our fruit here. We are only destemming the fruit, that is, we are using our equipment to simply knock the berries off of the stems, so in effect we are fermenting whole berries. This is crucial for attaining my goal of powerful and deeply fruit driven wines and I cannot wait to share them with you! Lastly, barrels, oh the barrels! We have shifted to aging our wines in primarily French Oak. We feel that this is the best wood for us since it integrates slowly and softly and helps to develop excellent, complex wines.
Not only is Production here at Renwood under new management, so is our Hospitality Department. Be sure to stay tuned for new and exciting events as well as ongoing Food & Wine Pairings that change seasonally. Our Tours here fun and educational and you get to see how we make our wines in a very boutique way.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing you at our next Member party and sharing a glass of Renwood Wine.