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2014 BEST Zinfandel: Seghesio Family Vineyards

Author: Julie Fadda Powers
May, 2014 Issue

“Ted [Seghesio] has his own winemaking style and will stick to it always.” —David Messerli

 
With more than 100 years’ experience, the Seghesio family knows how to grow Zinfandel. Its first parcel of land, the Home Ranch, where the original family home stands today, is in an area first called “Chianti” by Italian railroaders (between current-day Geyserville and Cloverdale). It still has 1.5 acres of original Sangiovese vines producing there (a Chianti-style field blend of Sangiovese, Trebbianio, Malvaysia and Canaiolo Nero), planted in 1895 by Angela and Edoardo Seghesio. Today, now five generations strong, the family has 300 planted acres and also purchases grapes from select growers. All vineyards are estate owned and/or controlled.
 
When you visit the winery, a true sense of family and history are immediately evident. First, the building dates back to 1880 (the Seghesios purchased it in 1949). The family originally made bulk wines there in 30,000-gallon redwood tanks (there are a few “small,” 3,000-to-4,000-gallon tanks still onsite). The redwood in the tasting room is from the original tanks. You’ll see family photos on the walls and the barrel room is viewable from the tasting bar.
 
The first wines released under the Seghesio label were in 1983. The winery eventually grew to produce 100,000 cases annually, but the younger generation (including winemaker Ted Seghesio) scaled back to 30,000 cases in the 1990s, focusing on quality and an Italian varietals program.
 
The winery offers a wide range of Zinfandels, from small-production and single-vineyard bottles to the more widely available “core Zinfandels,” which include Old Vine (all of Seghesio’s Zinfandels are old vines; the average age in its Old Vine Zin is 90 years, this is a blend of the best of the lots, which has a knock-out nose and is meaty—I wanted to chew it), Rockpile (bright and lively, it comes from a rugged hillside above the fog line—I felt like I could taste the peaks) and Cortina. The technique Ted uses is uniform for all wines; the differences between them are according to where they’re grown.
 
“Ted has his own style and will stick to it always,” says David Messerli, estate director. “The Cortina is 100 percent Zinfandel. It’s the ‘Zin purist’s’ wine.” It’s a beautiful balance of dark red fruits, lively tannins and acidity. The 2011 Home Ranch Zinfandel, in contrast, is also well balanced but an entirely different flavor, with softer edges, darker fruit and a lush mouthfeel.
 
Executive Chef Peter Janiak offers “Family Tables” food and wine pairings Fridays through Sundays, by reservation, as well as a chef’s summer dinner series, where you can enjoy a multi-course menu at select vineyard sites. You can also enjoy guided Home Ranch hikes (the next ones are May 17 and Sept. 20). The winery also offers several unique settings for private events, including its redwood room, cellar, terrace, redwood grove or Home Ranch.
 
“The Seghesio production team would like to reach out and thank the throngs of loyal fans, who’ve been enjoying the fruits of our labor for many years. Sonoma County Zinfandel…it doesn’t get any better,” says Ted Seghesio.

 

 

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