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. At the same time, there is paradoxically greater solar intensity that has some magical and perhaps inexplicable effect on the grapes. 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. This is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and peaceful vineyard sites I have ever worked with.
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!
2018 was a marvelous growing season. Beautiful spring conditions followed abundant winter rainfall, resulting in even fruit set. We couldn’t have asked for more ideal summer and fall weather--moderate temperatures throughout. I refer to it a “leisurely” harvest, not forced to pick for fear of rain or heat. When the winemaker is relaxed, so is the wine! 2018 is without question one of the top vintages of the decade.
Our 2018 Red Hills Zinfandel displays a brilliant youthful dark ruby color. Enticing and forward aromas of baking spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice) bay, and berry, leap from the glass. The flavors reflect the nose with deeper raspberry notes on entry. Lively, refreshing, and structured, the wine is on point—a palatable ode to classic Zinfandel.
Grab a glass for the real deal—this is what Zinfandel is meant to be!