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2017 BEST Zinfandel: Mazzocco Winery

Author: Mallorie Kerrigan
June, 2017 Issue

“The key ingredient is the grapes, sourced from great vineyards.” —Antoine Favero

Situated in the hills of Healdsburg’s Dry Creek Valley, Mazzocco Winery is all about the Wine Country experience and their award-winning Zinfandels. Voted best Zinfandel this year by NorthBay biz readers, as well as a previous win for best Cabernet Sauvignon in 2015 and best Zinfandel in 2011, Mazzocco remains at the forefront of its craft. Mastering the art of well-balanced wine making, Mazzocco’s notable edge is a result of the willingness to take risks when it comes to producing outstanding wines.

Brought into the Wilson family in 2005, Mazzocco is one of nine sister wineries and sources from vineyards such as Briar, Stone Ranch and Maple. In addition to their Zins—which number more than 20—Mazzocco is also known for award-winning Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Antoine Favero has been Mazzocco’s winemaker since 2005 and is responsible for more than two-dozen vineyard-designate Zins. “The key ingredient is the grapes, sourced from great vineyards,” Favero explains. Setting Mazzocco’s Zins apart from others is the natural yeast fermentation, resulting in wine that is both balanced and robust. “The yeast also creates the flavors. Yeast is crucial,” he says. He admits to “playing with fire” by using native yeasts, which can be a gamble. Native yeasts can be less consistent and difficult to manage, but the outcome for Favero is well worth the risk. The wines, says Favero, speak for themselves. A continuous winner at yeast-roulette, his risk-taking results are worth the effort.  “[The] wine is fruity, has a good amount of tannins, wood and alcohol. It’s a balance of the elements,” he says.

Mazzocco’s tasting room is all about the Wine Country experience, and creating a comfortable environment for guests, according to Favero. One of the key factors to Mazzocco’s success is the staff, providing a five-star complete concierge service for wine club members. “The staff sets the tone, then wonderful wines, and life is good!” says Favero. Wine club members not only benefit in the savings on wine purchases, but an array of accommodations offered through the winery such as: houses on property available to club members; hotel and bed and breakfast’s in town; transportation for up to 12 guest for shuttling to and from their sister wineries; and fabulous events celebrated annually. This year, Mazzocco is hosting a 10-day winemaker cruise to Italy for 130 guests, alongside Wilson winemaker Diane Wilson and Mazzocco’s own Antoine Favero. The event is already sold out, but they host a cruise each year and next year’s location is still under consideration.

Mazzocco is also committed to helping students. Each year, the winery holds its annual gala for the Children of Vineyard Workers Scholarship Program. Since the program began 16 years ago, it has helped students further their education and distributed more than $750,000 in scholarships. This year, the event will be held at their sister winery, Soda Rock, in Healdsburg and will feature a silent and live auction accompanied by their award-winning wines and a three-course menu prepared by local chefs. Favero is a firm believer that it’s important to give back to community and support the families of those who make the winery what it is today. Says Favero, “It starts with the vineyard guys. They’re the artists. When I receive the fruit, it’s done. My work is easy compared to what they do.”





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