Alfaro Family Gimelli Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2018
The Cienega Valley in San Benito County is blessed with an excellent climate for Zinfandel. Sunny days are interrupted by cooling ocean breezes from the Monterey Bay.
After a long and satisfying career as the founder of Alfaro’s Micro Bakery, one of California’s premier gourmet bakeries, Richard Alfaro was presented with a unique opportunity in the form of an aging 75 acre apple farm in Corralitos. An offer was made on the baking company by an interested buyer, and in 1998 this forgotten piece of land was lovingly transformed by Richard and his wife Mary Kay, into what is now known as Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery. In the ensuing years, the Bread Baker became the Winemaker, captivating discriminating wine drinkers along the way. Today there are a total of 38 acres under vine in Corralitos, 18 more in Aptos, and all of the vines are cared for personally by Richard and his crew. The acreage is comprised of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec and Gruner Veltliner. All of the production from start to finish occurs in-house so the grapes take a very short trip from vineyard to bottle. Two of the vineyards are named after the Alfaro’s children, Lindsay Paige and Ryan Spencer. Wife Mary Kay, a certified sommelier, assists Richard while running the office, managing the tasting room and handling the needs of their growing wine club.
Part of the larger Central Coast AVA, the valley was historically an important source of grapes for Almaden Vineyards before it was acquired by Constellation Brands in the 1980s. At 1,100 feet, the San Andreas Fault divides the valley so that one side is granite and sandstone, and the other is granite and limestone.
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel is often thought of as California’s flagship grape. In fact it owns this title by having the ability to adapt to the states’ many microclimates and landscapes, producing unique expressions of the grape throughout. Zinfandel thrives in California’s Central Coast, as well throughout Sonoma County, parts of Napa Valley, the Sierra Foothills, Lodi and Paso Robles.
Zinfandel was born in Croatia and later made its way to southern Italy where it became known as Primitivo. The astute imperial nursery of Vienna collected specimens of the vine and acted as the source of its journey to New England, carried by George Gibbs circa 1829. Eventually, making its way to California around the Gold Rush of 1849, Zinfandel found its new home, parading the true American spirit.
Tasting Notes for Zinfandel
Zinfandel is a dry red wine, though typically forward in fruit. Notes of dark plum, blackberry, sweet spice, dark chocolate and licorice are common. Very ripe examples may express a dried fruit quakity like fig or prune. But Zinfandel grown in cooler, coastal zones often shows red fruit, black pepper and fresh herbal characteristics like juniper and menthol.
Perfect Food Pairings for Zinfandel
Zinfandel is a powerfully flavored wine, mingling happily with bold food like brisket, lamb shanks, pork ribs or anything barbecued. More delicate Zins work with pork, lamb curry and even Ceasar Salad or Salad Nicoise.
Sommelier Secrets for Zinfandel
Thanks to its popularity both for home winemaking and as communion wine, many Zinfandel vines were able to survive prohibition, leading to the abundance of "old vine" Zinfandels. These low-yielding, ancient vines tend to produce wine that is deeply concentrated, delicately perfumed and decidedly complex.