Zinfandel hasn’t always been the most popular kid in school but the state of California has helped to bring it to life. The Zin is a big, bright red wine that’s planted in 10% of all California vineyards. It’s got a pretty high alcohol content, one of the highest on the market, but that comes with a juicy, fruity flavor that is taking over California.
It’s pretty easy to find a California vineyard that has a delicious Zin but we have a few favorites. Oak Farm Vineyards, Pedroncelli, and St. Francis Winery are making what we consider to be some of the best California Zinfandels on the market.
Oak Farm Vineyards in Lodi, California started as a family farm, one that treasured the majestic nature of trees, hence the name. The Panella family took over in 1936 and have been on a journey ever since to cultivate a vineyard that truly embodied the viticulture of Lodi.
Their homegrown Zinfandel has multiple high ranking awards under its belt and is definitely a winner in our book. It has an earthy nature to it, with notes of cedar and eucalyptus, followed up by fruity flavors to leave a bright and refreshing finish. This one comes from a few select vineyards but they have two others that are all hand-picked from single vineyards. The Hohenrieder Vineyard Zinfandel is all old vine grapes that come with the classic earthy Zin flavor but a higher level of tannins and a boldness that will surprise and delight you. And finally there is the Mohr-Fry Ranches Zin which is a bit more understated while bringing an elegance, particularly because this vineyard was the first in Lodi to be given a Historical Vineyard certification.
The Pedroncelli Vineyard has been family owned and operated in Sonoma County since it was purchased in 1927. Their work helped to form the Dry Creek Valley Appellation (AVA), which is where 50% of all Zinfandels of Sonoma County are planted. As they continue to grow and move into their fourth generation of family ownership, the focus has shifted to sustainability and innovation in the coming decades.
They have three Zinfandels available for sale throughout the year. Mother Clone is a true Dry Creek Valley Zin with tons of jammy, fruity flavors and oaky, earthy notes. The Bushnell Vineyard Zin is one that shows off a gorgeous deep purple color which complements the spicy notes of black pepper that pair with the rich fruit flavors. And the Zinfandel Courage is all of your favorite parts of the Zinfandel like the fruity and earthy qualities, followed up by a subtle smoky finish.
St. Francis Winery has been an institution within Sonoma County for four decades, originating in 1971 with 22 acres of Chardonnay and 60 acres of Merlot. Now, they have over 380 acres of certified sustainable vineyards in the Sonoma and Russian River Valleys.
They have a bevy of Zinfandels, each with their own unique characteristics. The Monticello Vineyard, Baachi Vineyard, and Banti Vineyard Zins are perfect representations of the vineyards from which they are harvested, with distinct earthy and fruity Zinfandel flavors plus a touch of spice. The Old Vines Zinfandel is juicy and fruity but with more of salty quality than the others, and the two from Dry Creek are deep in color and long in the finish.
We are so here for a good California Zinfandel, and we love to support winemakers who focus on quality and sustainability, just like these three featured here. You can buy your own bottles from these vineyards online to enjoy safely in your own homes at any time!
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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