Twelve years ago, well before many were seriously considering the potential of Lake County, one of my best growers, Jim Fore, took a gamble and purchased property on the top of Cobb Mountain. The vineyard site is located a few miles east of Sonoma County and a dozen miles north of Napa Valley's Calistoga.
This is a spectacular property, situated at 3000 feet elevation. Soils are thin in the Red Hills and drain instantly. The elevation places vines well above the hot summer heat trapped in the valleys below, and aligns them in the path of cool westerly Pacific breezes. Because of the high elevation, the differential between day and night time temperatures is dramatic. This results in grapes with intense flavor and color development.
As time went on, I gained a finer insight into the growing conditions of the region and began to compare it to those of the Napa Valley. Perhaps most similar is Mount Veeder, located in the western mountain range dividing Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Of particular note, Mount Veeder is home to arguably our flagship wine, Brandlin Vineyard Zinfandel. So we gambled again and planted two old clones of Zinfandel, River One and Mead Ranch, and harvested our first crop in 2012. Our intuition proved to be correct!
We were graced with another outstanding vintage in 2014—in fact I just checked my notes and my comment on the final day of harvest, “sensational!” Sunshine and a warm dry spring gave way to mild and ideal growing conditions throughout the summer. An uneventful growing season without extremes is always welcome. Harvest began early and finished early, avoiding the potentially cool and rainy autumn conditions.
Our 2014 Red Hills Zinfandel is dark ruby in color with aromas of white pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, raspberry, roasted coffee and vanilla. The lush entry elicits a dark cherry component reined in by a structure that suggests further development and longevity. Lively, long, harmonious, and persistent. This is a delicious and palatable ode to classic Zinfandel, a wine that keeps drawing you back for another taste.
Red Hills is clearly destined to become one of the premier Zinfandel regions in California—we offer this wine as testament!