2019 Rockpile Zinfandel

Wine Notes

2019 Rockpile ZinfandelVintage:

Rockpile, Sonoma County

The Pomo Indians called this area “kabe-chana” meaning place with many rocks. In 1865 legendary sheriff Tennessee Bishop established the “Rockpile Sheep Ranch” so dubbed by his prisoners building the road to Bishop’s 20,000 acre mountain ranch. The first vines were planted by S.P. Hallengren in 1884. He shipped the wines to his native Sweden. Modern viticulture started in 1992 with Rod & Kathy Park planting two Bordeaux varietals. In 1994, the intrepid Jack Florence planted the first 7 acres of Zinfandel secured from Ulises Valdez and Kent Rosenblum. In 2002 the Rockpile Appellation was formally established. It contains 15,400 acres, but only 160 acres are planted to vines, farmed by 11 growers. Vineyard elevations range from 800-2100’, with 95% of vines above 1000’. The Region III climate is highly moderated by the Pacific Ocean, 16 miles to the west, and by Lake Sonoma, covering 2500 acres. It was manmade in the 1980’s to mitigate flooding in the Russian River Basin. Soils are shallow: 12-14” deep, consisting of clay loam and iron, which adds unique spicy elements to the wines.

The vineyard is owned by Edward & Carrie Thomas, hailing from England. It rests at 1250’ on the east/west Rockpile Ridge and has a steep, warm, and beautiful aspect to the southwest. The vineyard was planted in 1996 by the talented Jack Florence, Jr. using the iconic St. Peter’s Zinfandel clone. Rootstocks are 110R & 1103P and the trellis is VSP. Now fully mature, the vineyard yields consistent, high-quality fruit.

Vintage Notes:
The winter of 2019 yielded above normal rainfall of 40-50” in the Rockpile Appellation; the last “good” winter in recent memory. Spring was late but mild and a normal Zinfandel crop was set. Mild and even weather persisted during the summer with 1-2 needed heat spikes. Veraison was normal in early August and harvest weather was uneventful, despite the Kincaid Fire which started after the Zinfandel was harvested. Berries were fully “mature” and yielded flavorful wines.

Fermentation & Aging:
The grapes were crushed on September 19th, midseason. The Brix was 26.1°, acid was 5.1g/liter and pH was an excellent 3.68. Fermentation took place in a stainless steel tank and pumped over 3-4 times per day. Pressing was very gentle using a tank press at under 2 bars. The wine was aged for 30 months in once-filled tight-grain French oak barrels to allow 100% Zinfandel fruit expression with subtle oak nuances. The wine was bottled in June 2021.