Old Vine Zinfandel
(Old Vine Zin-fan-del)
You might see the term Old Vine Zinfandel on websites, labels or as part of a wine’s name. Naturally you might have asked yourself why the age of a vine matters. With some grapes like Chardonnay and Cabernet older vines (beyond 50 years) see both the production and the quality of grape go down. With Zinfandel, vine production also declines, but as the vine exceeds the half-century mark, the quality of the remaining grapes gets more intense.
It helps that the history of planting Zinfandel goes back to the California Gold Rush era, which is why some of the oldest Zin vines are in the Sierra Foothills. The title of the oldest documented vineyard in California goes to the Original Grandpere Vineyard near Plymouth in Amador County, which dates back to at least 1869. The popularity of the grape in the 1800’s also means it was planted in areas like Napa, Sonoma and Mendicino counties as well.
The old vines tend to very consistently produce high quality grapes that are darker, richer, and spicier. While Zinfandel’s fell out of favor in the 1970’s and 1980’s but have since come back strong with some offerings topping the best wine lists. The Macauley Vineyard 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel was rated 96 Pts., by the Beverage Testing Institute and was featured in our Platinum Wine Club. Wines from 100+ year old vines are hard to beat.
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