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2016 BEST Zinfandel: Armida Winery

Author: Tim Carl
May, 2016 Issue

"Come on over and we promise you'll have a great time!" —Bruce Cousins


Located just minutes from downtown Healdsburg, Armida Winery may be best known for its expressive, bold Zinfandels with unique names. In the past, the winery has been voted both Best Zinfandel and Best Tasting Room by NorthBay biz readers.

“We make eight different Zinfandels, each between 200 and 1,800 cases,” explains co-owner Bruce Cousins. “Our largest single vineyard production is from Maple Vineyards. We also produce Zinfandel from our estate vineyard (Il Campo), Italo’s Vineyard, Parmelee-Hill Vineyard and Tina’s Block, originally planted in 1910. We distribute Maple Vineyards Zinfandel as well as our super-fun PoiZin, the wine to die for, to restaurants and retail stores. Our other single vineyard wines are available only at our tasting room or through our wine club.”

 Originally founded in 1988 by Bob Frugoli, Armida Winery has been owned and operated by Bruce and his brother, Steve, since 1994. Armida Winery supports eight full-time employees, including winemaker Brandon Lapides.

“We’ve been fortunate to be producing Zinfandel from Maple Vineyards for 18 years,” explains Bruce. “When I informed Tina Maple of this wonderful award, she cheered, ‘Way to go team, Armida is amazing!’”

The winery’s name is derived from Mediterranean roots and dramatic stories. “The name Armida is found in Mediterranean cultures, primarily Italian and Spanish,” Bruce explains. “Evidence strongly suggests the name originates from Torquato Tasso’s romantic epic poem, Gerusalemme Liberata, which is the story of Armida, a Saracen sorceress and warrior; and Rinaldo, a soldier of the first Crusade.”

Images of epic battles and crusades also influence some of the wine’s packaging. Each bottle of the Reserve PoiZin comes in an etched bottle topped with thick red wax dripping down its sides like an ancient candle. To emphasize the effect, each bottle comes in a wooden box shaped like a coffin.

In addition to numerous Zinfandels, Armida also makes other popular varietals. “If you like our Zins, you’re sure to enjoy some of our other reds, particularly our Stuhlmuller Cabernet Sauvignon and Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir,” says Bruce. “And you may also be interested in our whites, including our Antidote Chardonnay.”

Asked what he’d say to someone who hasn’t yet visited Armida’s award-winning tasting room, Bruce seemed truly shocked by the question. “Wow, I thought everyone’s been here at least once!” he says, adding, “Where have you been? Come on over and we promise you’ll have a great time!”

Beyond making popular wines, Armida Winery is committed to supporting the community. “We donate a bottle of PoiZin and our Antidote to almost every local charity event,” he explains. “Beyond that, for years Armida has been a contributor to the Healdsburg Museum, the local animal shelter, the Council on Aging and we were the official wine sponsor for this year’s annual food pantry fundraiser.”

To the NorthBay biz readers who voted for them, Bruce says thanks. “Thank you for thinking about us. The entire Armida team gives its all, and it’s gratifying to know we’re appreciated!”



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