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Growing up in the Sierra Foothills, Scott Harvey’s grandfather owned vineyards in Shenandoah Valley, in Amador County. Dating back to the Gold Rush days, Amador County is one of California’s oldest wine-producing regions. The oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard in California is the 1869 Vineyard where we source the fruit for our prized Vineyard 1869 Old Vine Zinfandel.
Located in the Sierra Foothills, Amador County vineyards are centered around Shenandoah Valley and Fiddletown. Composed mostly of decomposed granite and reddish volcanic soils, elevations range from 1,200 to 2,000 feet. This “mountain fruit” provides better acid and tannin structure to Zinfandel, Barbera and Syrah than lower elevation growing regions and helps us make complex, elegant wines that are not overly ripe and pair well with food.
While Amador has the same granitic foothill geography as the Piemonte region in Italy, it benefits from more sun. Scott believes this makes it the best place on the planet to produce “World Class” Barbera.
Considered an Amador County “Pioneer”, Scott began his winemaking career as an apprentice at Montevina. He went on to study winemaking in Germany, returning to Amador as head winemaker at Story Winery. After roles as Winemaker/General Manager at Santino and Renwood Wineries, Scott became a partner, winemaker, and the President of Folie a Deux Winery in Napa Valley where he created “Ménage a Trois”.
In 2004, when the Folie a Deux Winery was sold to the Trinchero Family, Scott moved back to Amador to start his own winery with his wife, Jana, a wine industry veteran. Throughout his time in Napa Valley, Scott continually maintained his passion for Amador County wines and keeping his close relationships with premier Amador County growers.
Today the winery focuses on Zinfandel, Barbera and Syrah from the Amador area, along with a few smaller bottlings of Napa, Lake County and Mendocino wines.
As the lower part of the greater Sierra Foothills appellation, Amador is roughly a plateau whose vineyards grow at 1,200 to 2,000 feet in elevation. It is 100 miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley. Most of its wineries are in the oak-studded rolling hillsides of Shenandoah Valley or east in Fiddletown, where elevations are slightly higher.
The Sierra Foothills growing area was among the largest wine producers in the state during the gold rush of the late 1800s. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking was totally abandoned, along with its vineyards. But some of these, especially Zinfandel, still remain and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.
Most Amador vines are planted in volcanic soils derived primarily from sandy clay loam and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nighttime temperatures typically drop 30 degrees and the humidity is low, making this an ideal environment for grape growing. Because there is adequate rain throughout the year and even snow in the winter, dry farming is possible.
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel has secured it’s title as the darling of California vintners by adapting well to the states’ diverse microclimates and landscapes. Born in Croatia, it later made its way to southern Italy where it was named Primitivo. Fortunately, the imperial nursery of Vienna catalogued specimens of the vine, which sourced a journey to New England in 1829. Parading the true American spirit, Zinfandel found a new home in California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Somm Secret—California's ancient vines of Zinfandel are those that survived the neglect of Prohibition; today these vines produce the most concentrated, ethereal and complex examples.