4 truts about wine

this blog has been created by the French non profit org : the 4 truths about wine. Do you want to see the members ? it is here

Thursday, November 22, 2012

French Wine Personalities

We created this list to honour people who made wine 
more than a concept.  

principle  : people who contribute or contributed to the fame of wine in France, today or 60 years ago.

Bernard Arnault & Albert Frère : owners of Château Cheval Blanc ( Saint Emilion) , one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Bernard Arnault owner of : Château Yquem (Sauternes), one of the greatest wineries in the world.

 Vincent Avril( Domaine Clos des Papes in Châteauneuf du Pape) : amongst the great winemakers from the Rhône Valley south, they have been awarded best wine of the world in 2005 and are often ranked in the top 10 by the Wine Spectator.

Michel Bettane : a wine critic and writer, even known outside of France

Jacques Berthomeau : who wrote the Berthomeau report, this report on wine, wineries and winemakers has been initiating new directions from the French gov.bodies

Jean-Charles Boisset : head of the biggest negociant company in Burgundy, they own also some vineyards in this region

Henri Bonneau : a great vigneron from Chateauneuf du Pape

Claude and Lydia Bourgignon : their very innovative approach of how to improve the wines in improving the soils has brought very good results. The vignerons who had them as consultants are amongst the best everywhere in the world.

Philippe Cambie : oenologist, who greatly contributed to the fame of the wines from the Rhône south, no doubt that in the wine history there, one will notice a before and after Philippe Cambie

 Chapoutier Family (Domaine Chapoutier) : vigneron and negociant from Rhone north and south

Michel Chasseuil : incredible collector of wines from all over the world, beside some very old spirits. Coming inside his cellar is like entering in a somptuous cathedral dedicated to wines and grape spirits

Jules Chauvet :French negociant, know to be the father of natural wine (a very French affair)

Jean Louis Chave : for his great Hermitage (Rhone north), one of the greatest wineries in the world

Jean François Coche Dury (Domaine Coche-Dury) : vigneron in Burgundy

François Cotat (Domaine Cotat) : one of the best Loire vigneron

Thierry Cuilleron : one of the best Rhône north vigneron

Didier Dagueneau : an incredibely gifted vigneron who retrieved from oblivion the Pouilly Fumé appellation, died in 2008, his son Benjamin is making incredible wines too

Stéphane Derenoncourt : wine consultant for many Châteaux in Bordeaux

Thierry Desseauve : a wine critic and writer, even known outside of France

 Clarence Dillon : Château Haut Brion owner, (Graves, Pessac Léognan), one of the greatest wineries in the world

Georges Duboeuf : a major player in Beaujolais

 Dubois-Challon-Vauthier families : Château Ausone owners (Saint Emilion) , one of the greatest wineries in the world

Denis Dubourdieu : a Bordeaux university professor who run also several Châteaux in Bordeaux

 Dugat Py family(Domaine Dugat Py) : vignerons in Burgundy, one of the greatest wineries in the world

Michel Dovaz : writer and professor in wine

Henri Enjalbert (died in 1983) : a very talented geology and terroir professor, was based in Bordeaux

 Faller family (Domaine Weinbach) : vignerons in Alsace, one of the greatest wineries in the world.

 Feraud family (Domaine du Pegau) : vignerons in Châteauneuf du Pape, one of the great vigneron of the Rhone south area.

Pierre Gaillard (Domaine Pierre Gaillard) : one of the great vigneron of the Rhone north area.

Pierre Galet : writer of a worldwide covering grape varities encyclopedia

 Guigal Family ( Domaine Marcel Guigal) : négociants and vignerons in Rhone north area

 JN Pinguet (Domaine Huet) : head of one of the best Loire estates

Jean Hugel (Domaine Hugel) : well known Alsatian vigneron, died in 2009

Famille Humbrecht (Domaine Zind Humbrecht) : vignerons in Alsace

Henri Jayer : very innovative vigneron who brought a lot to the Burgundy area

Nicolas Joly (Domaine la Coulée de Serrant) : vigneron in Loire, and one of the biodynamy guru

Odette Kahn: wine writer, and one of the key person of the French magazines : Cuisine et Vins de France and also Revue du Vin de France

Famille Krug: head of one of the best Champain wineries, and one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Famille Boüard de Laforest : Château l’Angelus owner (Saint Emilion), one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Anne-Claude Leflaive ( Domaine Leflaive) : vigneronne in Burgundy, one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Max Léglise: famous oenologist (died in 1996)

May-Eliane de Lencquesaing: the previous owner of  Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande,  and talented Bordeaux ambassador all over the world

Pierre Leclerc : previous manager of the Cevise  and COREVI ( non profit org. dedicated to the Provence wines and wine consumption in general) .Thanks to Pierre actions, the French Paradox has been widely broadcasted into the French press and at the same time the wine consumption statistics have been looking much better during 10 years

Baron Pierre Le Roy : one of the creators of the INAO and powerfull vigneron in Châteauneuf du Pape, and has been well advising the Tavel vignerons too (died in 1967)

Alexis Lichine: wine writer and owner of a famous Bordeaux Château (died in 1989)

Lalou Bize Leroy (Domaine Leroy) : exceptional vigneronne in Burgundy, one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Bernard Magrez : owner of several Châteaux in Bordeaux and elsewhere

Corinne Metzelopoulos :  Château Margaux owner (Médoc, Margaux), one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Famille Mommessin (Clos de Tart) : one of the greatest Burgundy winery

Famille de Montgolfier ( Domaine Bollinger) : owner in Champain, one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Jean Pierre Moueix :  Château Petrus owner ( Libournais,Pomerol) , one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Famille Perrin ( Domaine de Beaucastel) : vignerons in Châteauneuf du Pape, amongst the great wineries of the Rhône south

Émile Peynaud : very innovative oenologist, has brought a lot to the vinification methods (died in 2004)

François Pinault :  Château Latour owner (Médoc, Pauillac), one of the greatest wineries in the world.

Famille Rapet ( Domaine Rapet) : one of the great Burgundy winery

Serge Renaud : who found the famous  French Paradox, thanks to him, the wine consumption has been rising quite everywhere in the world, since. Died in October 2012.

Christophe Remond : has created around 2000 year, the Iacchos talk list and through this Internet media launched a new fame and interest for the wine. The members of this list have then created discussion groups named La Passion du Vin or Buveurs d'étiquettes.These groups are still in operation and rich of rewarding experiences.

Jacques Reynaud ( Domaine Rayas) vigneron, his Châteauneuf du Pape have always been above everything, , his nephew Emmanuel is proving that he is able to reach the same level, one of the greatest winery from the Rhône south.

Michel Rolland : oenologist famous all over the world, he is doing the vinification of a big number of estates all over the world

Jean Claude and Fredéric Rouzaud ( Champagne Roederer): one of the greatest winery of Champain

Eric de Rothschild : château Lafite Rotschild owner ( Médoc, Pauillac) , one of the most famous winery in the world

Christophe Sabon (Domaine de la Janasse) : one of the greatest estates of the Rhône south

Anselme Selosse (Maison Selosse) : his Champaign wines are indredible and Anselme created such good Champaign, giving his region much more credit. He is one the good vigneron from Champaign.

Marlène Soria (Domaine Peyre Rose) : a great vigneronne, making gorgeous Languedoc

Jean Luc Thunevin : pioneer in doing exceptional garage wines in Bordeaux

Famille Trapet ( Domaine Jean Louis Trapet) : one of the greatest wineries of Burgundy

Famille Trimbach (Domaine Trimbach) : great vignerons in Alsace

Famille Usséglio (Domaine Pierre Usséglio) : one of the greatest estates of the Rhône south

Laurent Vaillé ( Domaine La Grange des Pères):  a great vigneron, making fabulous Languedoc

Christian Vanneque: Head sommelier in La Tour d’Argent, a prestigious restaurant with one the best restaurant cellar of the world

François Villard (Domaine François Villard) : one othe greatest vigneron from Rhône north

Aubert de Villaine ( Domaine de la Romanée Conti) : one of the greatest estates of the world

Jean-Claude Vrinat : owner of Taillevent restaurant and true lover of great wines

Saturday, August 18, 2012

French Wine regions and quizzes

Do you want to know more about French wines regions and delimited wine areas ?

If needed you can use the Google translator gadget.

The following maps are coming from the excellent website ludovino.com

You will have to point out your cursor over the maps

vineyards from lower Loire valley, click here

vineyards from Beaujolais, click here

vineyards from Bordeaux, click here

vineyards from Burgendy, click here

vineyards from Champagne, click here

vineyards from Languedoc Roussillon, click here

vineyards from Provence and Corse, click here

vineyards from Rhône, click here


Do you feel that you are ready to answer quizzes on these regions ?

You will need to read some French to understand what's going on.........

Challenge yourself !

a) quizz on France's wines  : quizz on French wines

b) quizz on France's wine areas, click here

c) quizz on France's wine areas expert level, click here

d) quizz on Bordeaux's and South West wines, click here

e) quizz on Bordeaux's only, click here

f) quizz on Burgundy's wine areas, click here

g) quizz on Burgundy's villages click here

h) quizz on Beaujolais's wines, click here

i) quizz on Champagne's wine areas, click here

j) quizz on Alsace's grands crus, click here

k) quizz on lower Loire wine areas, click here

l) quizz on Rhone Valley wine areas, click here

m) quizz on Languedoc Roussillon wine areas, click here

n) quizz on Provence and Corse wine areas, click here

o) quizz on France's wine areas, click here

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Exotic countries wine blogs

We are convinced that wine brings people to interact, exchange, and share. We are convinced that wine tastings brings us to Education and Culture, and also wine tastings brings us, generally, to moderation in drinking and then to an healthy beheviour.


Wine China

no other blog found, any suggestion ?


Wine Hedonism

no other blog found, any suggestion                  

picture taken from Wikipedia
South Korea



more on Korean food :

Do you know wine blogs in Japan ,Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Mongolia or India ?

Other countries like Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia ?

We are eager to read your suggestions.

Do you want to see the strong ties between wine in moderation and a good health ?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Portugal wine blogs


We are convinced that wine brings people to interact, exchange, and share. We are convinced that wine tastings brings us to Education and Culture, and also wine tastings brings us, generally, to moderation in drinking and then to an healthy beheviour.

It is a non exhaustive list. 

Falando de Vinhos

Comer Beber Lazer
this map comes from  www.boum.info

Enofilo principiante


Pingas no Copo

Os Vinhos

Copo de 3

Joao a mesa

Adego dos Leigos

Art meets Bacchus

Airdiogo num copo

Saca a rolha

Do you want to see the strong ties between wine in moderation and a good health ?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

200 years old vines in France

Thanks to the Pédebernade family a 2 centuries old vineyard has been kept and protected, during eight generations.

It is the oldest vineyard in the world !

and a copy and paste from the website bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk

French Vineyard in Saint Mont Classified as Historic Monument

Last year Sue wrote about the wines of Saint Mont in the Gers, South West France and its collection of ancient vines. Decanter has just reported that these vines have recently been classified a Monument Historique, the first time a vineyard has been awarded the distinction. Saint Mont is somewhat of a contradiction: on the one hand you have a very, very old vineyard and on the other a dynamic – and determined – set of wine makers who are remaking history.
Saint Mont’s origins go back to the 4th century BC and the village is perched on a cliff overlooking the River Adour. The old town is rich with Medieval Gascon architecture with narrow streets and picturesque half-timbered houses. It’s name translates into English as Holy Mountain or Mountain of Saints but its roots are pre Christian. The Romans built a hill fort here as the attitude made it almost inaccessible and therefore easily defensible. A thousand years later in 1050 a Benedictine Abbey was founded over the ruins of the Roman fort. The Abbey became an important stage on the route to Santiago de Compestela with pilgrims finding board and lodging there. The first written records at Saint Mont date back to the vineyards of the 11th century and reveal that religious congregations were the chief architects of the development of the region, particularly in terms of vine cultivation.
After the French Revolution the Revolutionary authorities confiscated the Monastery and expelled the monks. In 1795 Count Jean-Jacques de Corneilhan bought the property and the Monastery became a Chateau. The de Corneilhan family owned the property for almost two centuries and in 1995 it was bought by Françoise Laborde, the French author, journalist and television presenter. Having discovered where sections of the former vines were originally planted, the Producteurs Plaimont have now recreated the vineyard of the Monastery.
The forward thinking co-operative Producteurs Plaimont was founded in 1979 by André Dubosc, a local man determined to reinvigorate this wine producing region. Plaimont not only represents Saint Mont but the surrounding appellations Madiran, Pacherenc du Vic Bilh and Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne. Dubosc has spent his life researching, replanting and promoting local grapes varieties which, without him, would have otherwise disappeared. A trained ampelographer (expert in the study of vines and grapes), he set up the Conservatory of Saint Mont wines in the villages of Sarragachies and Pouydraguin, and saved many grapes from extinction.
Saint Mont now holds a unique collection in France (around 116 different grape varieties) and this botanical heritage is now attracting attention from researchers, scientists and vintners alike. Much of Dubosc’s work has focused on the vineyard of 85-year old René Pédebernade, which, according to the French wine critic Michel Bettane, contains the oldest vines in France. Some of the vines are believed to be at least 200 years old, giving new meaning to the term Vieilles Vignes (old vines).
The vines survived the phylloxera epidemic that wiped out thousands of acres in the 19th century as they are rooted in ten metres of sand, making them invincible to the pest. What’s remarkable is that Pédebernade’s vines give a glimpse into viticulture hundreds of years ago, and they have preserved varietals long since forgotten. Added to this are over 30 unknown varieties – their names lost long ago – discovered abandoned, yet still thriving, in deserted plots.
These vines are of vital importance as they hold the genetic keys to today’s grapes and can help winegrowers of the future. As the climate changes the old varieties may have qualities that come back into the fore and we might be drinking wines made from grapes named Arrat, Canaril, Aouillat, Chacolis, Miousap, Claverie, Morrastel and Morenoa in the not too distant future!
The vineyard is now run by René’s son, Jean-Pascal (who is the 8th generation of the family to own the vineyard) but René still looks after this oldest plot, using traditional methods of cultivation. Seven grape varieties not previously classified, have been baptised Pédebernade 1 to 7 in honour of their owner.
If you would like to find out more about the wines of Saint Mont there is now a new website up and running here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

wine blogs from USA

We are convinced that wine brings people to interact, exchange, and share. We are convinced that wine brings us to Education and Culture, and also wine brings us, generally, to moderation in drinking and then to an healthy beheviour.

It is a non exhaustive list. 

Updated June 8 2012

partial and personal wine blog selection :

- Alice Feiring wine blog updated June 8

- Blog your wine  updated June 8

- Hogshead wine blog updated June 8

Map coming from
not found any better ...
http://fermentation.typepad.com/ *


http://blog.terroirist.com/ *

- http://www.vinography.com/ *







http://enobytes.com/ *



http://vinofreakism.com/ *

* these blogs got a Wine Blog Award : http://wineblogawards.org/

Do you want to see the strong ties between wine in moderation and a good health ?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Highlight on the wine blogs 1

The world of wine blog is complex, rich and savouring, from time to time we will pick up one these pages. Wine is a social lubricant and may taste good to excellent !

Here is the link the the page we liked : rjonwine.com/california-wine/tour-of-historic-vineyards

and below a copy and paste of it :

A Tour of Historic California Vineyards

2012 MAY 30
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 047
old head trained vines at Pagani Ranch
This month I toured some of California’s oldest vineyards with a group of winemakers who make wines from these vineyards. The vineyard tour and the dinner that followed were organized to raise funds for theHistoric Vineyard Society, whose mission is to document and preserve these precious pieces of California’s vinous heritage.
California’s first vineyards were planted starting in 1779 by Franciscan missionaries directed by Father Junipero Serra. The vines planted were what have become known as Mission grapes, or Criolla, a term that covers a few varieties of pink grapes traditionally used for sacramental wine. The first non-Mission grape plantings in California, with European, or vitis vinifera, grapes used for fine wine making, were Jean-Louis Vignes’s plantings in Los Angeles in 1833.
Northern California, especially Sonoma, became the focus for plantings shortly after some settlers there declared their independence from Mexico in 1846. Following the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded Alta California to the U.S., and in 1850 California became a state. One of the vineyards we visited, now known as Fredericks Vineyard, is thought to have been the first hillside vineyard planted, also in 1850.
The first non-Mission grapes were planted in Northern California in Old Hill Ranch Vineyard, one of the other vineyards we toured, in 1852. Hungarian merchant Agoston Haraszthy, who founded Buena Vista winery, made several trips to France, Spain and Italy in the 1850s and early 1860s to obtain cuttings of an estimated 300 varieties that he brought back to California.
Old Hill Ranch, which had been planted largely to Zinfandel, won an award in Europe for its wines in the 1860s. The press it obtained for receiving this award led to heavy plantings of Zin in Northern California in the 1860s and 1870s.
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 030
old vine Zin and mixed blacks at Old Hill Ranch
Unfortunately, these European grapes lacked resistance to the indigenous American phylloxera louse which infects and poisons vine roots. These early plantings were therefore destroyed at about the same time as virtually all the vineyards of Europe were decimated by the phylloxera that had hitched a ride on cuttings of American grapes brought to England by botanists in the 1850s. As a result, the oldest vines still producing in California date back to the mid-1880s, when vineyards were replanted by grafting European grapes onto phylloxera resistant American and hybrid rootstock.
By the time of the replantings, in the 1880s and 1890s, Italians and other Europeans with winegrowing experience had arrived in the area. Their experience with planting a variety of grapes, so as to have a mix of grapes for blending, contributed to the phenomenon of “field blends” in many of these early California vineyards, dominated by the Zinfandel that had already proven successful. Other commonly planted grapes were Petite SirahAlicante Bouschet and Carignane.
According to Joel Peterson, founder of Ravenswood, who led my portion of the tour group, Zin was ideal for planting in many different locations because it is much more flexible than a grape like Cabernet Sauvignon, which gets vegetative in flavor when it’s not fully ripe, or can taste like rubber tires when it gets too ripe. Zin varies with the topography and climate where it’s planted. It typically takes on more strawberry and red fruit characteristics, but as the climate gets warmer, it can go from boysenberry, to mixed red and black fruit flavors, to blackberry, with lower acidity and higher tannins.
A mix of blending grapes can be used to accommodate the way Zin expresses itself in a particular site.Carignane gave acidity when Zin got too ripe. Petite Sirah provided tannins. Alicante Bouschet brought high concentrations of anthocyanins for color. So according to Joel, Zins contributed the perfume and spice, but mixed black grape blends produced a combination that was more balanced and capable of aging—important considerations at a time when wines had to be much more structured and sturdy to survive in an era before the refrigeration and bottling techniques we have today.
In three of the vineyards we visited—Old Hill Ranch, Bedrock (formerly part of Madrone Ranch) andPagani Ranch—30 or more different grape varieties can be found.
The primary purpose of the non-profit Historic Vineyard Society, founded by Joel’s son and fellow winemaker, Morgan Twain-Peterson, and other winemakers, is to catalog California’s historic vineyards and to identify and preserve the diversity present in these field blend plantings. The other founding members are David Gates of Ridge Vineyards, Mike Officer of Carlisle Vineyards, Tegan Passalacqua ofTurley Wine Cellars and the organizer of the day’s event, Mike Dildine.
Morgan and other HVS board members can readily identify 20-25 varieties by sight. They’ve found dozens of varieties in these historic vineyards. Some are extinct elsewhere, like Castets, which is nearly gone from France. They’ve also found seven different types of Muscat and lots of Mission-type grapes. Some are still a mystery as there is no matching DNA for them in the database that now includes 10,000 grape varieties.
We ended the day with a delicious barbecue dinner accompanied by wines made from the vineyards we had just visited. The group also heard from U.C. Davis Professor Emeritus Carole Meredith on her ultimately successful search for Zinfandel’s origins, in Croatia, which I’ve previously written about here. The dinner was held under a tent in the middle of Bedrock Vineyard, which was purchased by Joel Peterson in 2004.
The next portion of this blog will summarize each of the four vineyards we visited, including what I learned about identifying grape varieties and the farming techniques being used to preserve these historic vines.
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 002
small lake in Bedrock Vineyard
Bedrock Vineyard (formerly part of Madrone Ranch)
This beautiful vineyard was originally planted in 1854 by William Sherman and Joe Hooker, prior to their service as generals in the Civil War. Sherman, then a banker in San Francisco, funded the operation, while Hooker was supposed to be in charge of the farming. Their aim was to grow grapes and farm produce for the then burgeoning population of San Francisco. Unfortunately for the partnership, Hooker didn’t work that hard at farming, so he and Sherman ended on bad terms. Sherman reportedly had his revenge, however, when he was in charge of supply operations during the Civil War. He regularly delayed provisioning General Hooker’s troops.
The vineyard later passed into the hands of George Washington Whitman and then to the former American Consul to China, Eli T. Shepherd. Morgan Twain-Peterson has read Shepherd’s journals of woe at the Sonoma County Wine Library in Healdsburg. In the final two years of his oversight, from 1886-1887, the first vines on rootstock were planted, though this was likely the hybrid Lenoir which was not totally phylloxera resistant. The entry for December 1887, when Shepherd sold the property to Senator George Hearst, reported that the gleeful Shepherd had just bought his wife a diamond ring and couldn’t wait to move back to the East Coast.
Hearst replanted, starting in 1888, on phylloxera resistant rootstock he was able to obtain thanks to his connections with the University of California. He replanted to mixed black grapes, three-quarters of which were Zinfandel, but with some blocks that were up to 40% Alicante Bouschet or Grand Noir de la Calmette. Besides the old Zin that dates from that period, there are amazing ancient vines of Mourvèdre,Grenache and even Mission grapes in this vineyard, from which Morgan and others are still making terrific wine. Of the vineyard’s 153 acres, about 33 contain these old vines.
The vineyard was sold by Hearst’s widow, Phoebe Appleton Hearst, to the California Wine Association, which held the deed through Prohibition. It was later sold to the Parducci and Domenici families. Following a conflict, reportedly settled by a coin toss, the Domenicis took control of what is now theBedrock Vineyard in 1953 while the Parduccis took a smaller section of the vineyard with its winery (Valley of the Moon).
When Peterson purchased, the vineyard was not farmed that well. They removed 40% of the fruiting positions and cut back on irrigation, among other things. Now the vineyard is yielding a healthy two to two and a half tons per acre. It is currently managed by Diane Kenworthy of Sunbreak Vineyard Services in tandem with Joel and his son, Morgan, who also owns Bedrock Wine Co.
RavenswoodCarlisle and Bedrock were the first wineries to get grapes following the sale to Peterson. Lately Turley, Biale and Dashe are also making wines from these grapes.
Here’s a picture of an Alicante Bouschet vine (with Joel and Morgan, in the red shirt)
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 034
The Bedrock Vineyard has a section that’s on Los Robles cobblestones and loams, and then it changes to Tuscan Red Hill Series. On that portion it’s planted 8’ by 8’.
Old vine Mourvèdre is found in a middle section. According to Morgan, it’s rare to be seen in a relatively cool location, as it has one of the longest ripening periods of any variety, next to Nebbiolo. Morgan picks it at 19 brix for his Rosé, Ode to Lulu.
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 043
a couple of tall Carignane vines
Carignane is always the tallest vine. The Carignane block of the vineyard is on the rockiest soil, yielding high toned spice components to blends, with lift. Carignane leaves look scrunched up and wrinkly compared to Zin leaves. Alicante Bouschet has shiny leaves that are slightly curled, like its parent,GrenacheGrenache has large clusters and shiny leaves.
Here’s a picture of a Criolla Chica Mission grape vine.
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 040
Joel reports they’ve made maybe 1% profit on the vineyard in the best year since he bought it from the Domenici family. They bought a spader and have been adding soil inputs. The spader digs down up to 14 inches and relieves soil compaction.
Fredericks Vineyard (formerly part of Weiss Vineyard)
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 023
view from the terraces at Fredericks Vineyard
Kenwood Winery used to make wine from Fredericks; now Turley is. Tegan Passalacqua, Turley’s winegrower, guided us through the vineyard.
Dick Fredericks bought Upper Weiss Vineyard from the Weiss family. Some sources indicate this was the first hillside vineyard planted in California, as far back as 1850. The current plantings date to three periods. In 1937 cuttings of the Weiss clone Zin were planted on St. George rootstock on the gentle south facing slope, with Carignane and Trousseau Noir. The terraces were planted in 1943. The third section (non-historic) was planted to Zinfandel in 2008 with cuttings from the Hayne Vineyard in Napa, and the Dupratt Vineyard in Mendocino. This section, about three acres, replaced a block of Ruby Cabernet dating back to the 1940′s.
Different sections of the vineyard can ripen a month apart, due to the different exposures and aspects. The vineyard is organically farmed by Chuy Ordaz and his Palo Alto vineyard management team in cooperation with Turley Wine Cellars.
The vines are all head trained (goblet). Joel explained that goblet works well for Zinfandel as its clusters are heavy and don’t work well with trellises. Some growers reduce Zin yields by eliminating a wing; others wait until veraison to cut off the parts of the cluster that are still green.
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 021
Joel Peterson with Zin vine on the terraces
We could smell they had recently sprayed with sulfur dust, to ward off mildew. Bunch rot, mildew and botrytis are the biggest winegrowing problems in this area. There are no problematic insects to speak of.Carignane is highly susceptible to mildew. Zin is fairly resistant.
The dry farming techniques they are using are much like those employed in the 1880s: sulfur dusting, and ripping out areas prone to frost. Tegan explained that in dry farming, what’s below ground develops at the same rate as the growth above ground. When there’s extensive watering, the growth above ground dominates. So dry farming ensures balance. The rootstock selected is drought resistant St. George. St. George is a rupestis or desert rootstock. The soil is Tuscan Red Hill Series, which has good water holding capacity without being boggy.
They took off 40% of the fruiting positions in 2007/2008, and are now getting 2 ¼ to 2 ½ tons to an acre. Most Zin vines have some leaf roll virus. Since they relieved the vines of the extra positions, the signs of leaf roll aren’t showing now until right near harvest.
Tegan explained that they are on a three-year replant schedule with Turley’s old vineyards. They irrigate with buckets and make tea with worm castings to water the vines. New vines only get two five-gallon buckets the first year.
This vineyard had the most profound impact on me of the four we visited. There was something I can only describe as holy in its layout, with those steep terraces, and the immaculate farming of their 70-year-old vines. That and the long vistas of vineyards that can be seen from several different directions thanks to the steep terraces.
Old Hill Ranch
May 2012 Sonoma and Napa 025
Will Bucklin
Will Bucklin, who used to be a winemaker at King Estate in Oregon, manages and farms Old Hill Ranch Vineyard. His mother, Ann Teller, owns the vineyard. Will’s stepfather purchased the property, which is adjacent to the Sonoma State Hospital, in 1980.
The vineyard was founded in 1852 by William McPherson Hill. Hill had come to California from Philadelphia in the Gold Rush of 1849. He bought 2,000 acres in Sonoma in 1851 with profits from San Francisco real estate. Hill was the first in Northern California to bring in non-Mission grapes. His grapes came from Peru by way of a ship that docked in the San Francisco Bay that happened to be carrying grapes.
Hill replanted in the 1880s, after phylloxera, to a field blend. They count up to 30 different varieties planted there. Hill sold most of his land in 1898 except for this last remaining 40-acre parcel of which 12 acres were replanted in 1885. Hill’s son, Robert Potter Hill, managed Old Hill until 1960.
Here’s a picture of a lichen encrusted Grenache vine at Old Hill that is probably 130 years old.
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In the 12 acres of old vines, the percentage of grapes planted is over 60% Zinfandel, 15% Grenache, 7%Alicante Bouschet, 2.5% Petite Sirah and Peloursin, 1.3% Grand Noir, 1.2% Tannat, 1% Mourvedre, 1% various table grapes, and 5% a mixture of CarignaneSyrahTrousseau, French Columbard, Cinsault, Charbono, Lenoir, Palomino, Chasselas, Tempranillo, Petite Bouchet, Muscat and a few unknowns.
Producers who have made wine from this vineyard include Davis Bynum in 1975 and 1977; Mount Eden1976; Roudon-Smith 1978 and 1979 (unfortunately with a lot of new oak); Topolos 1980–1983;Ravenswood 1984–present; and Bucklin, Will’s label, from 2000 to present.
According to Joel, the vineyard was dying when Will took over in 2000. Joel first saw the vineyard in 1975 when it was owned by a real estate developer. He reported it had become a hippy commune, full of blackberries and coyote brush.
They have replanted with budwood from the old vines, and added quite a bit of Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet, taking out some of the mixed types. Petite Sirah is one of the shorter lived old vines planted—usually lasting only 50-60 years.
The vineyard is entirely dry farmed. In 2000 the yield was only about one-quarter to one-half ton per acre. Now, with substantial work, soil management and organic farming, the yield is up to one and a half to two tons. Will uses a cover crop that gets mowed in the Spring and plowed back into the soil.
Joel and Will debated which were the biggest wildlife consumers of grapes. Joel blamed the deer, and the lack of a deer fence pre-2000 for substantially reducing yields. Will claimed that coyotes were bigger grape fanciers than the deer. Coyotes are also a hazard because they chew up drip hoses in trying to get at the water.
They generally do two harvests per year—a primary harvest for Zin, and then two weeks later for the later ripening mixed varieties. The Zin harvest often ends up with some Petite Sirah and Mourvèdre. They split the harvest evenly between Ravenswood and Bucklin.
Will is planting some new acreage to field blends, one to GrenacheMourvèdre and Carignane, and another to Muscat and other white varieties for a field blend white.
Pagani Ranch
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looking west, toward the hills, at Pagani
Pagani has been in the same family since the late 1880s. It is about five miles north of Bedrock in the Kenwood area, and was noticeably cooler than Bedrock, which lies in what they call the “banana belt.” The Bennett Valley Gap brings airflow to the Kenwood area that keeps it relatively cool.
Pagani Vineyard is on valley bottom land. It is more radically mixed than Fredericks, more along the lines of Old Hill Ranch. There is also more Alicante Bouschet, which makes the wines darker.
Angela and Felice Pagani came from Italy to Sonoma Valley in the late 1880s and purchased the ranch and planted these vines. It is unique in having very narrow rows. The vines are head trained and the vineyard is dry farmed. The vineyard used to be plowed by horses before tractors and discs were invented. They currently have 187 acres planted, 55 of which contain old vines. Eighteen acres alone containAlicante Bouschet. Its leaves turn a bright red with patches of purple in the Fall, which makes those vines a distinctive local landmark.
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Dino Amantite and Joel Peterson
Dino Pagani Amantite is a partner and the vineyard manager. He used to be the grape buyer for St. Francis. He told us that with the cool climate and exotic black grapes, a major problem at the vineyard is frost. Another problem is the tight spacing—7’ by 7’, which is hardly room enough for a tractor, leading to what the farmers jokingly call “tractor blight,” the elimination of a vine by errant tractors.
Some blocks are more pure Zinfandel and some are more mixed blacks. In response to a question from Joel, Dino estimated that it cost $3500 an acre per year to farm these old vines. The youngest vines are from 1922, but the family has started a new planting project under Dino’s leadership. The new plantings are also head trained with metal stakes, with front and back drip irrigation.
Joel claimed that Pagani’s hallmark is dark Santa Rosa plum fruit and richness, partly due to the high degree of Alicante Bouschet. Joel claims that Zinfandel by itself is lighter and “more Burgundian” than when blended with mixed blacks. Ravenswood has one old vine 100% Zin from grapes planted in 1900 in Big River.
Wineries that make wine from Pagani fruit are SeghesioRidgeBedrockRobert Biale, Wellington, Berthroud and CarlisleRidge began making its Ridge Pagani Zin back in 1991.
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Here’s a picture of a Lenoir vine at Pagani, which was probably originally planted as rootstock with another grape, most likely Zin, grafted onto it.
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Lenoir, also known as Black Spanish, is of the species vitis aestivalis. It was one of the first American grape rootstocks tried for phylloxera resistance, before St. George became the standard.
The hills rising to the west from where the vineyard currently ends used to be planted too, with vineyard and other fruits. Those plantings have grown over, however, and the hills are now full of trees.
I’ve driven by this vineyard hundreds of times in my wanderings in Sonoma, as it lies only a mile south of my sister’s place in Kenwood. It’s great to finally know the story behind this magnificent piece of California history, and the riches it contains.
Wines Tasted with Dinner
  • 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heirloom Compagni Portis – USA, California, Sonoma County,Sonoma Valley
    Light lemon yellow color; aromatic, a little oxidative, tart peach, grapefruit, saline nose; complex, tangy, light-bodied, tart peach, light lemon oil, mineral, tart green fruit palate; needs 1 year; medium-plus finish (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Carlisle The Derivative White – USA, California, Sonoma County
    Light lemon yellow color; lifted, lemon oil, apple skin, floral nose; tight, tart lemon oil, mineral, tart citrus, apple palate; medium-plus finish (76% Semillon from Monte Rosso vineyard, 24% Muscadelle from Pagani Ranch(89 pts.)
  • 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Mourvedre Ode to Lulu Rosé – USA, California, Sonoma County,Sonoma Valley
    Light salmon pink; light tart currant, tart blood orange nose; tart orange, mineral, tart citrus palate with a light sense of white pepper; medium finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel O Brother! Bedrock Vineyard – USA, California,Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
    Very dark ruby color; intense, black raspberry, licorice, black cherry nose; tasty, silky textured, intense, tart black raspberry, tart black cherry, anise, black currant palate with subtle herbs and good acidity; needs 2-3 years; medium-plus finish (only 1 barrel, from Bedrock’s rocky Block 42, made by Morgan’s brother Galen Peterson) (93 pts.)
  • 2010 Bedrock Wine Co. The Bedrock Heirloom – USA, California, Sonoma County, SonomaValley
    Very dark ruby color; intense, tart black cherry, black currant, anise nose; rich, black currant, tart black cherry palate; needs 3-4 years; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Bucklin Mixed Blacks – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
    Very dark ruby color; black currant, ripe red currant nose; tart red currant, black currant, black cherry, cinnamon, tart black fruit, licorice palate with depth; medium-plus finish 92+ points) (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Bucklin Zinfandel Old Hill Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County
    Medium dark red violet color; dried berry, licorice, black currant nose; rich, tart black currant, tar, herbs palate; medium-plus finish 92+ points (92 pts.)
  • 2008 Carlisle Two Acres – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    Dark ruby color; herbs, tart black fruit, tart black currant nose; tart black fruit, tar, tart black currant palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (old vine Mourvedre, Petite SirahSyrahCarignane andAlicante Bouschet(91 pts.)
  • 2008 Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Hill – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
    Dark purple red violet color; tart black currant, licorice, baked berry nose; tasty, ripe black currant, tar, black fruit palate; needs 1-2 years; medium-plus finish 90+ points (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Ridge Lytton Springs – USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
    Dark red violet color; light raspberry, ripe currant, black currant nose; tasty, youthful, tart black currant, loam palate with medium acidity; needs 4-plus years; medium-plus finish (71% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, 6% Carignane; 14.5% alcohol) (90 pts.)
  • 2001 Ridge Zinfandel Buchignani Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County
    Bricking dark red violet color; maturing, stewed plum, light tobacco, baked plum nose; mature, baked plum, stewed black fruit, tar palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Robert Biale Zinfandel Old Kraft Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
    Dark ruby color; tart red plum, black currant nose; tight, tasty, tart black currant, ripe plum, mineral palate; needs 3 years; medium-plus finish (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Turley Petite Sirah Hayne Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
    Very dark ruby color; tart plum, tar nose; tasty, tart black fruit, tar, mineral palate; needs 2 years; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Turley Zinfandel Fredericks Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, SonomaValley
    Very dark ruby color; baked berry, ripe plum, black raspberry nose; ripe berry, baked berry, black cherry, baked cherry palate; medium-plus finish 91+ points (91 pts.)