In our travels ’round the California wine country, we have discovered some wonderful vineyards that were planted a couple of decades after the Gold Rush. Each year we select out the best fruit from these vineyards. These ancient, low-yielding vines produce an intensely concentrated and spicy wine, which we age in predominately new French and American oak barrels. The result? ZaZin!
Working with heritage vineyards involves something of a pilgrimage to offbeat locations and a fascination for unusual varietals. While many ancient vineyards have been ripped out and replanted to currently fashionable varietals, the heritage vineyard owner sticks with what he knows best, often out of allegiance to his forbearers and largely through a stubborn understanding that his vineyards are worth keeping right where they were planted so long ago.
Heritage vineyards are not good because they are old, rather they are old because they are good. Their roots run deep to guard them against sudden changes of temperature and droughts and spread broadly to collect all the micro-elements the soil can provide. They have “learned” over time that their long-term survival depends upon a modest crop level sufficient to achieve seed maturity every year. The resulting wines are thus from fully ripened fruit and have the flavor integrity and depth to prove it.
We like to think of heritage vineyards as those that have been in the hands of the same family for three generations or more. Like their vines, the family has set down deep roots and are reluctant to change their ways: they take to suggestions from outsiders reluctantly, and within the family the younger generation chafes under the yoke of the old timers.
These are the vineyards and the people we seek out at TIERRA DIVINA in Mendoza and Lodi.