2021 Rockpile Zinfandel

Wine Notes

2021 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, which was also a hideout for his bandit brother! 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, Sr. 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 cooled 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 and farmed by the eponymous Jack Florence, Jr. Jack planted the vineyard in 1994, the first Zinfandel vineyard in the Rockpile appellation using the iconic St. Peter’s Church clone. It’s on 110 Rupestris rootstock and a VSP trellis. Now 28 years old, the vineyard yields 2-3 tons an acre and produces consistent high-quality fruit.

Vintage Notes:
The winter of 2021 yielded a sub-standard 16” of rain with a single storm dropping 9” on October 24th, most of which went down the river! Fortunately, spring weather was mild giving a “normal” crop. Summer weather was also mild and veraison started mid-August “on time”. There were no weather or other complications during harvest thus fruit quality was very high. We are very proud of this vintage.

Fermentation & Aging:
The grapes were harvested on September 13th, a week earlier than 2020. The Brix was the same though, at 25.1°. The acid was 5.4g/liter and pH was 3.87. Fermentation took place in tank with 3-4 punch downs (pigéage) per day. Pressing was very gentle using a basket press with less than 2 bars pressure. The wine was aged for 20 months in once-filled tight-grain French oak barrels to give subtle and elegant oak flavor nuances. The wine was bottled in August 2023.