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by Fred McMillin
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.
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:
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 Francisco...one of the first documented arrivals of Zinfandel in the state where it would achieve its fame.
This page created June 2000