Back in 1974, Jess Jackson saw in the fine vineyards of California's cool coastal regions fruit with a variety of outstanding flavors. What if there was a way to produce from this abundance, a single outstanding "cuvée" that offered both quality and value? The result, first released in 1983, was Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay, a rich, round and flavorful wine, made with hand-crafted methods. That same year, Grand Reserve was introduced, a line of ultra-premium wines that represented the full potential of California's finest vineyards and winemaking. Today, over 5,000 acres of vineyard in California's coastal regions are farmed by Kendall-Jackson. Four separate wineries house what is possibly the single largest barrel-fermentation project in the world. But perhaps most important, is that Kendall-Jackson remains a family-owned winery.
Learn More About Zinfandel
Zinfandel the American - or Californian - grape. Although it's not from America
(Croatia has been named its origin),
it does seem quite at home in the vineyards of California.
During Prohibition, many
Zinfandel vines survived as the high-yielding grape was popular both for home winemaking and communion wine, which is why so many old vines are still around today. The variety grows
well in the warm, sunny - but not too hot - regions of California and is succeptible to uneven ripening and high yields. In the 1970s, when red wine lacked a following, Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home Winery crafted a sweet pink concoction from the Zinfandel grape, and the White Zinfandel craze was born. As that craze has dwindled, artisan production of the grape in its natural, red form has resurfaced.
While Zinfandel is grown many places in the country, its most popular and successful
region is California. Appellations producing delicious Zinfandel wines include
specifically Dry Creek Valley, Napa, the North Coast, the Central Coast,
and the Sierra Foothills.
Zinfandel stands out with its very berry intensity and exotic spice notes. In some jammy fruit will dominate, in others, it's the spice that wows the palate.
Summing it up Successful Sites: California
Common Descriptors: raspberry, briary, blackberry, pepper, exotic spice
Learn More About North Coast, California
Beyond Napa and Sonoma in the north you find a couple of other counties producing great wine. Among these are Mendocino and Lake County. The northernmost California winegrowing regions, these two counties are right above Napa and Sonoma, geographically. Yet, wine-wise they are very different – both from their southern neighbors and from each other.
Mendocino has a high amount of organic vintners and vines. The first winery to settle here was Fetzer, which practices organic viticulture and holds some of the most vineyard land in the area. Mendocino has many pockets of micro-climates while Lake County, being smaller in size, is less diverse climactically. As for the grapes, Chardonnay is the most popular in both counties, but there are also some excellent Sauvignon Blancs, particularly in the Lake County. In red wine, Zinfandel leads the way, followed by Rhone Blends and Petite Sirah. The reds in both counties are complex and sumptuous. Anderson Valley is a sub-AVA of Mendicino and is quite well known for its excellent cool climate, producing the delicious Roederer Estate sparkling wines and some wonderful cool-climate Syrah.