It is spring time in the vineyard! It is that time of the year when the vines transition from winter dormancy to bud break. While younger vines (under 40 years old) aren’t very interesting to look at during this season I find gnarly old twisted vines to be most fascinating, before they are covered up with large vine and leaf canopies in the summer.
During April of 2012 I visited the Alexander Valley to photograph Old Zinfandel vines and up to the Sierra foothills to see Old Zinfandel and ancient Mission Grape vines. The only other well-known AVA that is home to old vines is in the Lodi wine country. So, this past weekend I headed out to the central valley and visited two wineries.
My first stop was at Harmony Wynelands which was founded by Bob and Linda Hartzell in 2002. The name of the winery was derived from a trip they took to South Africa where the term “wynelands” is used to describe grape vineyards. As you travel down their long driveway you’ll pass by 40-60 year Zinfandel vines and then come to the light blue and white farm house that is surrounded by beautiful gardens and it has become a popular venue for hosting weddings and special events. Inside the farm house is the showroom for the wine and an large 1921 Robert Morton Theater Pipe Organ which Bob Hartzell acquired from San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater.
Chad Joseph is the winemaker for Harmony Wynelands. He has a degree in botany, and is from a family of Central Valley farmers and had previously worked as one of Gallo’s many winemakers. He then worked as a consultant at Vino Piazza and today in addition to Harmony Wynelands he serves seven client wineries including Harney Lane, Boitano, Valhalla, McConnell Estates, McCormack-Williamson, and Dancing Coyote.
While sampling the wines I met Shaun MacKay, Linda’s son, who is the assistant winemaker and handles sales, marketing, and winery operations. Shaun studied communication, science, and film studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Afterwards he pursued additional Wine and Wine Marketing education at UC Davis. After finishing his undergraduate education, he traveled extensively throughout the Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands before returning to Lodi. Shaun joined Harmony Wynelands in 2004 to work alongside lead winemaker Chad Joseph. He is quite the wine-philosopher as he loves to talk about wine making as a holistic philosophy.
While visiting I sampled the following wines:
The first pour was the Rosé (non-Vintage) made from a blend of Zinfandel, Grenache and Mourvèdre made from free-run juice in the saignée method. On the nose this wine has aromas of a splash of fresh strawberries, cherries and subtle floral notes. On the palate it is fruit forward and dry, very vibrant with crisp acidity, medium weight with a medium length tangy and zesty finish. This is a refreshing wine that I sure to be a hit during the summer and it is fairly priced at $16 a bottle.
The second sample of wine was the 2010 Chardonnay. On the nose it has subtle tropical aromas followed by Golden Delicious apples and pears. On the palate it has additional notes of green apples with medium weight, medium acidity and a medium length finish with mandarin oranges and tangerines on the return. This wine sells for $16 a bottle.
The third wine and first red was the 2008 Alicante Bouschet. While this grape was widely planted in California early in the 20th century it is rarely found in California today. Where it is grown, seldom is it bottled as a 100% varietal wine as it is usually used for blending to add color to a wine. It is a cross of Petit Bouschet (itself a cross of the very old variety Teinturier du Cher and Aramon) and Grenache. Alicante is a teinturier grape, one with red flesh and red juice and it is one of the few that belong to the Vitis vinifera species. At the turn of the 21st century, Alicante Bouschet was the 12th most planted red wine grape in France with sizable plantings in the Languedoc, Provence and Cognac regions. This wine is clear, deep and bright ruby red and on the nose it has intense and concentrated aromas of blackberries with subtle notes of damp earth, tar, and black licorice. On the palate it has additional subtle notes of dried black fruits (plums, dates, raisins) with tight refined tannins, it is medium bodied with mouth watering acidity and a medium (+) length finish. This wine sells for $30 a bottle and I brought one home.
The fourth pour and second red wine was the 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel. This wine had recently been bottled so it may need a few more months to show its best. On the nose it has very fresh and vibrant cherries as well as dried black fruits. On the palate it is fruit forward with a hint of sweetness with additional notes of vanilla, strawberry jam and just a hint of sweet oak. This wine sells for $23 a bottle.
The fifth sample of wine was the Pipe Dreams Old Vine Zinfandel, a blend of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintage. On the nose I picked up intense and concentrated dark cherries, dark chocolate and black licorice. On the palate it has a hint of sweetness on entry, velvety smooth tannins, medium +) body and a medium length finish. If you’re going to Lodi to find great old vine zins, this is what you’re looking for! An absolutely delicious wine, it sells for $44 a bottle and I brought one home.
The final wine was the Late Harvest Riesling (Non-Vintage). On the nose I picked up notes of honey and apricots, canned pears, and white raisins. On the palate it is sweet but it isn’t syrupy and it has a medium +) length finish. This wine is not listed on the web site. It sells for $23 for a 350 ml bottle.
For more information or to visit:
9291 E Harney Lane
Lodi, CA 95240