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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for June 13, 2000


Rats! Not Enough Grapes



One of California's top Zinfandel producers is Kent Rosenblum. His success is due partly to scouting out old Zin vines growing in hillside vineyards in the North Coast.

...Norm Roby, Charles Sullivan


Kent found a good one... a rare clone of Zinfandel... old vines growing on a hillside high above Lake Sonoma. The small tract was fenced with rocks brought up from the valley floor, hence the name Rockpile Vineyard. The fruit made great wine, but there wasn't enough to bottle it alone. So, sadly, it had to be blended into Rosenblum Sonoma Old Vine Zinfandel.

But Wait!

In 1996 circumstances changed. Kent managed to get enough of the grape's to produce his first Rockpile release. I put a bottle in my cellar and then quietly slipped it into the last tasting, figuring that Kent would not have gone to all the trouble of making a new vineyard-designated Zin unless he knew it was good. Sure enough. My band of tasters gave it a rare rating of EXCELLENT.

The third release, the 1998, is still available when I last checked. To learn what a great winemaker can do with great Zin grapes, order the Rosenblum Rockpile for $19 at:
Ph. (510)865-7007, FX (510)865-9225,

Postscript—Meanwhile, Back in New England

Why are we writing about a Zinfandel on June 13th? It's an important date for the grape in America. On June 13, 1848, one day before the Bear Flag of independence was raised in Sonoma, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society saw a curiosity displayed by one J. Fiske Allen of Salem...a grapevine called "ZINFINDAL." Two years later another member of the Society, Capt F.W. Macondray, had gone west and was growing it at the corner of Stockton and Washington streets in what is now downtown San of the first documented arrivals of Zinfandel in the state where it would achieve its fame.

David Darlington's Angels' Visits
Research Assistant—Diane Bulzomi

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created June 2000