Little Orphan Annie Old Vine Zinfandel In 100 Cubic Yards of Composted Grape
Her Glory. Look At Me Now Boys. 4/11/15 Pomace Waiing To Be Spread. 3/2015
Dateline: April 11, 2015
Zinfandel -California’s Heritage Grape-Look At Me Now Boys
In the early 70’s when I first started as a grape grower, I use to call Zinfandel little Orphan Annie because no one knew where she came from. She was brought to California in 1852 by a Massachusetts sea captain and horticulturist from nurseries in Boston & Long Island but no one knew of her parents or exact origin. The cuttings were sold to newly arrived emigrant farmers and spent gold miners through nurseries in Sacramento & San Francisco. By 1879 80% of the vineyards in Sonoma County were planted to Zinfandel , Dry Creek Valley had 375 acres planted by 1883 and our close neighbor Italian Swiss Colony in Asti had 150acres. Up until 1970 it was used primarily as the dominant grape in generic red jug wines labeled as Burgundy or Claret. Zinfandel was California’s sweetheart but it was still looking for love and respect. In the fall of 2001 Dr. Carol Meredith of US Davis discovered by DNA testing the true parents of Zinfandel came from Croatia and the exact match was determined to be the varietal Crljenak. That discovery opened the doors for Orphan Annie who had been lovingly cared for by grape growers for over 100 years. Look at me now boys! No she’s not the grand dame Pinot Noir of Burgundy’s Cote d’Or , but she has her own charm and personality. In her youth she can be a sweet innocent value priced blushing Rose at a picnic, in her adolescence she can be a screw cap tomboy kicking up sand at a beach party, as she matures she can put on weight in all the right places and become a beautiful date to go with a romantic dinner for two by candle light, and in her most sensual mood she lets her hair down and becomes dark with embracing warmth as a sweet late harvest aperitif or Port served with chocolate. You’ve come a long way little Orphan Annie and your parents would be proud of you. You threw away your jug suit and your new fashion suits you very well. Congratulations, you’re doing great . and looking fabulous. More importantly you have earned the respect you deserve to stand among the best of the noble wines of the world.
So there you go folks, you now know everything about little Orphan Annie and if you haven’t had our delicious 2012 Zinfandel you had better hurry as it is one of our best vintages produced and only 31 cases remain in inventory.
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A day doesn’t go by without some front page article devoted to the California drought. With the increasing State population the demand for water by agriculture, residential, industry, & environmentalists has become a very important issue. The Sierra snowpack and reservoirs throughout the State are well below normal, many wells in our Central Valley have gone dry and rainfall here in Sonoma County has been 40- 50% below normal for the past 3 years. Our Governor has mandated a 25% reduction in water use from 2013. Some believe they are unfairly bearing the brunt of reduction while agriculture goes unregulated. The fact is thousands of acres of productive farm land will not be planted and established vineyards & orchards in the Central Valley have been removed because of lack of or the expensive cost of water. Forchini Vineyards has 4 wells that are used for irrigation and as of now the water we use from these wells is not regulated. We really don’t know how much reserve is in our underground aquifer but we are starting to be concerned as there is talk of private wells will soon have to be implemented with flow meters and the discharge monitored. In the mean time we are trying to self monitor and use less water in our operations in both vineyard irrigation and winery process water. Washing your car use to be the remedy to get rain but that doesn’t work anymore because now that’s prohibited unless you do it at a car wash with recycled water. So we Californians must change our habits and be patient until Mother Nature decides to cooperate.
Drier than a Gin Martini. Cabernet Block 8, March 2015. California drought at work.
We added 1700 new vines this year of various varietals in areas where we could increase ground efficiency. It wasn’t easy but we spread 100 yards of grape pomace from our winery and from other wineries that didn’t use this byproduct. The pomace was composted on adjacent property and it took 27 round trip loads with our truck to stockpile it on the ranch then a week to spread it. The rewards of using organic compost vs. synthetic fertilizers are enormous as the microbes & nutrients added by compost result in healthier plants and soil. As a result of our drought the vineyards have pushed out early with some vines exhibiting bud break in late February. We have so far dodged the bullet on frost, the vines look good and there are numerous clusters evident which is indicative of another good crop. Could we really have 4 consecutive bountiful crops produced in the environs of persistent drought? Long way to go.
Gerardo loading our spreader with Grape Compost . Requires multiple passes to spread 100 yards. March 2015.
We will soon bottle the 2014 Chardonnay & Paradiso Rosato later this month and are anxious to get these wines back on the shelf as both are sold out and we have had to disappoint many customers that enjoyed these wines. The 2013 Zinfandel will be bottled in July. We are pleased to announce our Proprietor’s Reserve 2011 Pinot Noir was recently awarded Best of Class/Double Gold in the Sonoma-Marin North of the Gate Wine Competition and our 2011 Cabernet earned a 94pt score Platinum Medal in the San Diego International Wine Competition. Sierra, granddaughter & assistant winemaker who worked our 2014 harvest in superb fashion has been working in Australia as an intern since January with a large winery in the Margaret River region. She has enjoyed her experience and has been offered extended work upon completion of their harvest which she has accepted. She has also been offered and has accepted an internship in France to work the 2015 harvest with a small winery in the Rhone region of Chateauneuf du Pape and will be staying in Australia through the summer then go directly to France. The advantages of being single & free, smart & attractive with an enology degree from UC Davis opens a world of opportunity to build upon her career. We are happy for her and will miss her smiling face and help.
Hope we might see you at the winery in the near future to visit and taste our award winning current release wines. They are all delicious and distinct and will provide much enjoyment when paired with your favorite meals. Cheers!
Editor: Jim Forchini