Good morning! As many of you know, one of the things I’ve always been passionate about is supporting the small wine producers over those who are owned by large corporations. Somehow, I just still can’t make myself subscribe to the idea that corporations are people. #sorrynotsorry With that in mind, I thought that this period of quarantine would be the perfect time to launch a series on wineries that you can — and should — support by purchasing wine from them.
Zinfandel is a cool grape. I did a story a while back on the fact that, technically, it is different from the famous Italian Primitivo varietal, though genetically they are almost impossible to tell apart. Zinfandel has gotten a bit of a tough wrap here in the U.S. in part because of an accident fifty years ago that left a batch of it neon pink and inspired a drinking revolution, but the truth it it’s a great varietal that can be — and often is — used to make some amazing wines. Best of all, you can get quite a lot of bang for your buck with this varietal. You can read the blog on Primitivo here: https://itheewine.com/2020/01/31/what-the-heck-is-primitivo/
In this series, The Conscientious Consumer in Quarantine, I’m going to point to some of my favorite producers, wineries that are owned by individuals human beings, human beings who use their wineries to employ other people and feed their families, human beings whom I would encourage you to support with your patronage. Wineries make money primarily in two ways, namely by selling wine and by having visitors. Both of those revenue streams are being deeply slashed during the Covid 19 pandemic, as restaurants are closing and, in some instances, tasting rooms have been asked to close down for the time being to help stop the spread of the disease. The following wines are wines I encourage you to purchase online to help support these small producers so that, when this is all over, they will still be there for all of us to visit.
Ballentine Vineyards – Napa Valley $30
Located in Napa on Highway 29, Sonja and I visited Ballentine once on a lark, and fell so in love with it that we joined their wine club. I recommend their Zinfandel for its quality-price-ratio. This family makes amazing wine, and their Zinfandel costs a humble $30. You can buy it at ballentinevineyards.com. And if you’d like to read our American Winery Guide review of the winery, you can do that here: https://itheewine.com/2017/06/05/ballentine-vineyards-review/
Ledson — Sonoma Valley $40
Sonja and I have long been fans of Steve Ledson and his wines, ever since visiting the gorgeous estate winery on our honeymoon. You can read our review of this particular wine, vintage 2011, here: https://itheewine.com/2018/04/07/momma-can-play-the-guitar-ledson-redwood-valley-zinfandel-2011/ and you can purchase Ledson wines at Ledson.com.
Meadowcroft – Sonoma Valley $38
Yep, we reviewed this wine yesterday! And it has also featured in a number of our prior writings. We love it for the quality, the value, and the memories it invokes in us. In case you missed the last blog post, you can find it here: https://itheewine.com/2020/03/22/making-lemonade-with-evan-hansen/ To find Tom Meadowcroft’s wines, visit meadowcroftwines.com.
Rombauer – Napa Valley $35
Sonja and I have visited Rombauer, just off the Silverado Trail, and loved it there. Rombauer also regularly appears at VinNEBRASKA, which we deeply appreciate. While they may be best known for their Chardonnay, I’m personally a fan of their Cabs, and this Zinfandel is no slouch either. At just under 16% ABV, it’s a statement of a wine, and one I love to share with friends. You can find it at rombauer.com.
Steele Pacini Vineyard – Lake County $20
Jed Steele, the fifty-year veteran of the wine industry who has made his home and his living in Lake County, is someone you’ve heard me mention a lot. I love his wines, especially for their excellent value. The Pacini Vineyard is one Jed has a long, storied relationship with, and he uses that knowledge to craft a wine that frequently makes my guests go “Wow!” To read my review of the 2015 vintage, click here: https://itheewine.com/2018/07/29/change-of-plans-steele-pacini-vineyard-zinfandel/ To purchase Jed’s wine, visit steelewines.com.
Titus Vineyards – Napa Valley $38
Titus is a really cool small producer that Sonja and I have visited a few times. Mike in the tasting room is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, and the Titus brothers team up to make and sell some pretty amazing wines. A few of their others are likely to make it into future posts in this series. Here are a few notes from the ’13 vintage that Sonja and I brought back home with us: https://itheewine.com/2017/09/06/saw-a-noceros-titus-zinfandel-2013/. You can purchase wine from Titus at titusvineyards.com.
Varozza Vineyards – Napa Valley $40
Jack and Diana Varozza are a small, three-person operation with a hundred years of history in the Napa Valley and I’ve always loved their wines. I featured them at the VivinOmaha meet up: https://itheewine.com/2017/06/22/youre-invited-to-vivinomaha/ and really enjoy this Zinfandel. I once gave it 95 points back when I was using a number scale. You can purchase their wines at varozzavineyards.com.
Vermeil Wines – Napa Valley $56
As a KC Chiefs fan, Coach Dick Vermeil holds a special place in my heart, not only for resurrecting our franchise, but also his demeanor and the way in which he went about things. I love him for being as emotional as I am. A Calistoga native, Sonja and I have visited his tasting room in Napa a few times, and we featured some of his wines at our Super Bowl party this year, when the Chiefs won for the first time in fifty years. You can read about that here: https://itheewine.com/2020/02/03/super-bowl-liv-a-four-course-victory/https://itheewine.com/2020/02/03/super-bowl-liv-a-four-course-victory/. You can purchase the Coach’s Zin at vermeilwines.com.
Well, there you have it. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it ought to keep you busy for a while, eh? Best of all, you can enjoy these Zins knowing that by purchasing them you are helping to keep some great people in business during these difficult times. If you do order them, I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks, and have a great start to yet another week in quarantine.