The epitome of mature vine, regional Zinfandel our Sonoma County Zinfandel "Old Vine" has become recognized by most as our flagship product. Many even opine that dollar for dollar it's the best wine we offer. Sonoma County Zinfandel tastes the way great Zinfandel is supposed to taste; full, spicy and richly berry-like, but balanced with firm astringency. Our blend, from several vineyards in the northern part of the County, also has the black cherry and mint characteristics that we've come to expect from that region. Most of the grapes are from 60- to 80-year-old vines on the Dry Creek benchland west of Healdsburg - a location that many wine enthusiasts (including, presumably, the intuitive Italians who originally chose to plant in this area) consider ideal for Zinfandel. Another large portion comes from a vineyard near Cloverdale which produces small-berried, compact bunches, hence, exceedingly pungent flavors. The full, aromatic Cloverdale character combined with the rich Dry Creek fruit produces a wine that is simultaneously powerful and elegant.
Subjected to long skin contact, aged 16 months in French oak, and fined lightly with fresh egg whites, this wine carries the rich, opulent and full-flavored character that has become the Ravenswood trademark. We expect the Sonoma County Zinfandel to soften and develop an excellent interplay between bottle age and youthful fruit in about five years. It will, however, continue to grow and offer pleasurable drinking for many years to come.
Fueled initially by the inspiration and winemaking skills of Joel Peterson, aided and abetted by his business partner W. Reed Foster, Ravenswood winery has been dedicated to top quality, hand-crafted wine since the first crush in 1976. Every Ravenswood wine carries a unique vintage and vineyard identity in addition to the intense powerful – gothic – character with which the winery has come to be associated.
A key to Ravenswood’s success is our long-standing relationships with over 60 independent grape growers. Vineyards are chosen for their location, age, yield and special flavor characteristics. At Ravenswood, we are devoted to working with growers who share our philosophy about high quality.
Ravenswood Vineyard Designate wines are made employing what winemaker Joel Peterson refers to as “stubborn and impractical” Old World enological practices. Wines are fermented in small wooden tanks using wild, natural yeasts and punched down by hand three to five times per day. The wines are characterized by intense, spicy aromas supported by rich, berry flavors and long, clean finishes.
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Twice as large as Napa in size, Sonoma County only makes about half as much wine as its northeasterly neighbor. Because of its vast size, however, Sonoma is able to achieve far more diversity within its borders, which include sub-AVAs that are climatically varied. The atmosphere of Sonoma is decidedly laid-back and down-to-earth, but the wines are serious and well-made, ranging in style from subtle and elegant to rich and powerful. Grape varieties are more varied here, from Pinot Noir and Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The largest sub-AVAs of Sonoma include Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each sub-AVA, with its own micro-climate, is unique in its grape varieties and styles of wine. Dry Creek makes a mean Zinfandel while Russian River produces stand up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Alexander Valley makes some of the better Cabernet Sauvignons in the county and Sonoma Valley creates excellent wines from all the above varieties. Other grapes found throughout Sonoma include Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.