Scott Harvey Wines
"I am really an old world winemaker in the new wine world"
Vineyard 1869 is a special bottling produced by Scott Harvey Wines with fruit from the Harvey Vineyard, America’s oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard with grapes dating 147 years old. The wine is made in the ‘Old World’ California Claret style, reminiscent of the balanced Zinfandels produced back in the 1960’s and 1970’s with distinctive complexity and First Growth quality. It is a rarity to have access to these incredible old vines that continue to thrive in Amador County, an AVA within the Sierra Mountains region and now recognized as a world-class wine growing appellation.
The owner and winemaker behind 1869 Vineyard is Scott Harvey, who founded his namesake winery back in 2003. Today, his career and accomplishments rank high on the scale with other modern wine industry pioneers.
Scott Harvey’s road to winemaking success began as a high school exchange student in the Rhineland Pfalz wine region of Germany where he was exposed to a number of top German wineries. After college, he returned to Germany to further his studies and eventually moved back to his hometown in Amador County to become winemaker for Story Winery and Renwood Winery. His work in Amador County helped establish the region as one of the top wine growing and wine producing regions in California, and in 1990, Dan Berger, the well respected wine writer for the Los Angeles Times, named Scott Harvey one of the ‘Ten Best Winemakers in America.’ Scott went on to become a partner in the successful Folie à Deux Winery in Napa Valley, and he honed his craft there for a number of years. When he learned that the entity would be sold to the Trinchero Family of Sutter Home Winery fame, he jumped at the chance to finally start his own namesake winery.
Scott Harvey began with the intention of producing a number of small-lot wines from top vineyards in the Sierra Foothills region. These were grape sources that Scott knew to be among the best in that part of Northern California. In 2004, Scott Harvey Wines made its inaugural release of almost 2,000 cases and the new winery was quickly on its way to gaining major critical acclaim. His distinctive portfolio focuses on his roots - Zinfandel, Syrah and Barbera that are approachable, food friendly, and full of luscious fruit flavors. Scott’s wines have earned a remarkable number of awards and ratings since the winery’s inception some fifteen years ago, and that number only continues to grow. We are proud to offer this fine selection to our Platinum Plus! Wine Club members. Cheers!
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
The 2006 Amador County Old Vine Reserve Zinfandel is traditionally from my step Grandfather’s (George DeMille) Vineyard blended with grapes from the Steinberg Vineyard. The DeMille Vineyard is 80 years old. In the old days my step grandfather sold these grapes to home winemakers. During prohibition, Amador County actually increased in grape acreage. If he sold these grapes to the Portuguese in West Sacramento he got $25 per ton. If he sold them to the Basque on the other side of the Sierra’s in Minden/Gardnerville he got $35 per ton...so over the mountain we would go. What he didn’t sell he left setting in his front yard in the 50 pound lug boxes we used to pick grapes into. They would sit there molding until he decided nobody was going to come by and buy them.
At that point he would put them in an old 4ft x 6ft dairy tank and beat them with a baseball bat. This made the family wine for all the family gatherings. My step grandfather was a crusty old guy having been of the famous Carlson’s Marine Raiders, who hit four beach heads in the South Pacific in WWII, so family gatherings were venison and his rough homemade wine. When I came back from winemaking school in Germany in 1976, the venison still tasted great, but the wine no longer was palatable.
I asked Grandpa how many tons he got out of the old vineyard. He said it was an old vineyard and didn’t produce a lot, about 1 to 1.5 tons per acre or about four to six tons. “Good,” I said. “I’m buying it all.” Winery price at that time was $180 per ton – a lot better than the $35 he was getting from the Basque. I asked him how much he needed for the family and he said a barrel.
I told him I would make that wine also, wouldn’t pay him for the grapes needed to make it, but would make it and deliver it to him bottled and everything. Now I knew I was going to get great wine with that venison. About two weeks later, he showed up at the back gate of the winery with the old dairy tank and baseball bat in the back of his pickup. He said, “Scott, if you are going to make my wine, you can have all my equipment.” That was 1976, and I’ve been making wine from these grapes ever since.
This wine is produced in the old world style of balanced winemaking – made so the wine expresses the Amador Zinfandel terroir with good balance of fruit, French oak, structural tannins and medium alcohol.
Tasting notes are; briary varietal Zinfandel, deep raspberry, allspice, cloves and peppermint. Balanced with a rich full center of chocolate covered cherries and reminiscent of steak tartar. Long lingering finish showing a complete wine from beginning to end. Old Vine complexity with first growth quality.
Scott Harvey - Winemaker.
Few California winemakers have taken the course that Scott Harvey chose for his career. The early German apprenticeship and the years at Folie à Deux with Dick Peterson have indeed stamped his wines. Scott Harvey is truly a throwback to classic winemaking since he literally learned his trade from the ground up.
More about Scott and Jana Harvey
To better understand the evolution of this month's Gold Wine Club selections from Scott Harvey Wines, it is necessary to trace the career of the namesake founder/winemaker for the past three decades. Scott Harvey's career and accomplishments rank high on the scale with other modern wine industry pioneers and ground breakers who orchestrated a number of different entities during their long careers.
The road for the now 54-year old wine entrepreneur began as a high school exchange student to the Rhineland Pfalz wine region of Germany where he was exposed to a number of top German wineries.
He next attended Cal State Sacramento before starting in the wine business at Amador County's Montevina Winery. In 1975, he returned to Germany, where he apprenticed at K. Fitz-Ritter Winery while attending the Weinbau Schule in Neustadt. Completing school, he returned to Montevina, where he broadened his experience in all aspects of the business. Three years later, he was named winemaker for another Amador entity, Story Winery.
Next in line was a stop at the new Santino Winery where Scott served as both general manager and winemaker. In 1992, Renwood Winery acquired Santino and Scott Harvey's talents and became one of the Sierra Foothills' most celebrated wineries. During this period, Scott Harvey and a handful of others were given credit for establishing Amador County as one of the top growing and producing regions in California, a status the region continues to enjoy. In 1990, Dan Berger, the well respected wine writer for the Los Angeles Times, named Scott Harvey one of the 'Ten Best Winemakers in America.'
Through it all, Scott Harvey still considers himself something of an anomaly. He puts it thusly, 'I am really an old world winemaker in the new wine world. I have always believed in the theory of making wines for food, but there is a growing trend that says that wines will be consumed without food. This isn't necessarily all bad, but it makes me return to what I know to be true. Wine doesn't taste bad without food but definitely tastes better with the correct food to accompany it. I also feel that the buying public doesn't really trust their wine merchant to the same degree that they trust their wine newspapers and periodicals, which makes for a somewhat cloudy situation.'
Harvey has also been a frequent judge at the California State Fair where he as literally judged hundreds of wines at a time. He knows that the wines that often get the best ratings are wines that have high alcohol or high acidity and somehow managed to catch the judges' attention.