Top Zinfandel Producers

Our favorites for #GTiZinfandel


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Top Zinfandel Producers During our Global Tasting Initiatives, we try to offer guidance regarding what wines in the marketplace are among the better buys. While I am proud of the work I do with these specific notes, I am far from comprehensive in my recommendations. 

With so many wines to try, so many wineries with varying shipping schedules, and the limited availability of many wines, it is no surprise that I fail to recommend so many great wines. While I can’t necessarily recommend specific wines from some of these producers, what I can do is give you my list of favorite producers!

I started this list with just a few producers in mind and it quickly exploded. I’ve trimmed back to a top 10 list of sorts, with at least one and possible two additional lists available for future publication.

These are my personal favorite producers of Zin. Let me know what yours are and what I need to add to the next installment of top Zinfandel producers below!

Photo courtesy Daniel via Flickr/CC

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Comments

  • Snooth User: nickpalm
    561712 63

    Benesere BK Collins Old Vine. Fantastic. Very small producer from Napa Valley, near St Helena. Awesome

    Jan 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM


  • One of my all-time favorite Cali zins is Seghesio Old Vine zin. Opulent and fiery, supple finish. It has a huge following.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM


  • Any Zin by Gus Gamba or Guiseppi Martenelli. Rosenblum's Rockpile also rates highly on my list. The older Rombauer El Dorado is also a favorite.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM


  • Carol Shelton. Lovely flavors with both blockbusters and the more subtle. And... she can make Cab and Pinot!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM


  • Snooth User: jbirdawg
    710359 17

    Along with Ridge Lytton Springs, my favorite Zin comes from Jed Steele. All of his Zins are wonderful but his least expensive effort, Pacini Vineyard, is my favorite. This wine is so elegant it is more like a claret. I haven't seen it lately but miss it.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 12:43 PM


  • How about including Late Harvest Zins in some reviews/comments? They are really hard to find. I recall having a Litton Springs, before Ridge, and then a Ridge that were absolutly wonderful. The cost is high for the these, usually 1/2 bottles, and some tasting clues would be nice before ordering.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 1:21 PM


  • Before consolidation, my vote is for Ravenswood, for making great Zins for the masses!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 1:36 PM


  • Snooth User: caitlyna
    999773 55

    Ridge occasionally makes a "Late Picked" version of their Pagani Ranch zin, but I haven't seen a "late Harvest" for a long time. Of course, Ridge does produce their "Essence", sometime Zin and sometime Petite Sirah, but those are only produced when the conditions are right.

    I recall a Mayacamus Late Harvest Zin from 1972. It was 17.5% alcohol and they had to convince ATF that they didn't fortify the vine to reach that level as people believed then that no yeast could survive to that level of alcohol. in spite of the high alcohol, that was a well balanced, exceedingly full bodied wine.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 1:40 PM


  • Snooth User: caitlyna
    999773 55

    I'm glad to see Sobon make the list. While big fruit bombs come from Lodi and Paso Robles, I have always liked the "drink with dinner" styles that come from Amador County and the Sierra Foothills. Sobon, and the related Shenandoah Vineyards, are my go-to producers for dinner zins.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 1:44 PM


  • At the risk of seeming really unsophisticated here I'd put in a plug for Bota Box Lodi Old Vine Zin. It sure isn't the best but the rpice simply can't be beat for a good everyday Zin.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 1:57 PM


  • you missed Limerick Lane...

    Jan 12, 2012 at 1:59 PM


  • Snooth User: pat43081
    254547 0

    I can't argue with many on this list, but there are three SIGNIFICANT Zin producers missing: Storybook Mountain, Robert Biale and Martinelli. Storybook wines are finessed and elegant. (Founder Jerry Seps also founded the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers group, ZAP). Biale focuses on Zin and they're big and fruity.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:04 PM


  • A list of top Zin producers without the venerable name of Turley? Come now!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM


  • Snooth User: syoung51
    176730 3

    One of my favs - Klinker Brick Winery always seems to be left off of great zin's lists - their 'Old Ghost' may be one of best Zin's made!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:13 PM


  • Snooth User: outthere
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    324443 2,821

    Great list Greg. It captures the essence of Zinfandel for me with Carlisle, Ridge and Bedrock as my personal top 3 as well. But I also agree that Seghesio belongs there as does Ehren Jordan with Turley. I prefer them to Sausal year in and year out. Fred Scherrer edges many of those out as well. Scherrer Zins are amazing. Nice list though. Tough to make a top 10 list when it comes to any wine varietal..

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:30 PM


  • Snooth User: luridone
    489126 0

    How can you not include Turley or Martinelli? The Turley Hayne Vineyard and the Martinelli Jackass Hill are 2 of the most incredible Zins I've ever had, even better than Ridge.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:33 PM


  • Kinda disappointed by this article. Greg-- get in the car and leave Napa/Sonoma please! For goodness' sake, Paso Robles, Lodi, Amador-- you're missing most of the picture!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:37 PM


  • Snooth User: Al Faison
    196612 154

    As with pat43081, I can't argue with your choices on this list, but I fervently believe that Joel Peterson at Ravenswood should be crowned the "King of Zin" not only for the consistant quality that I find in his "everyday" Vintner's Blend Zin, but also for the value packed & balanced "County Series" Zin. And if you favor a really BIG Zin (as I do on special occasions) you can't go wrong with Ravenswood's incredibly cellarable Single Vineyard Designates. I probably have 2 dozen or so of these from differnt vintages just waiting for an occasion worthy of their being served! Last thought, if Morgan has dad's palate and passion for Zin, WATCH OUT!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:43 PM


  • Snooth User: BL3
    276502 51

    How you do not include Seghesio is making me wonder! Consistantly produces top Zins and in WS Top 100 several times with Sonoma Zin in 2009 (year ?) hitting top 10. Great wines and should be in that list.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 2:46 PM


  • Deux Amis, Sonoma

    Jan 12, 2012 at 3:04 PM


  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,735

    Okay, I loved the article. People need to recognize that the comments are where they get to tout their faves--so don't worry that somone didn't make GdP's list. Just put the name out there. This shows is that there are many fantastic Zin producers; the grape is more than worthy of the GTI. I'll put in my two cents for Mauritson. Anyone who likes Rockpile Zins should know that the Mauritson family owned most of the land that Lake Sonoma covered up, and still owns the vast majority of the Rockpile vineyards. Clay is a generous man, but the best grapes from the best locations go into his wine, and he has a fantastic hand at Zin. If you aren't a member of their wine club or don't get lucky at the tasting room, you will have to take my word for it.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 3:18 PM


  • How can you possibly leave off this list, Rafanelli Winery, one of the granddaddies of Dry Creek valley, leaders of their festival and a winery with a devoted cult following? Doug Nalle told me some years back, that he studied and worked hard to emulate the Rafanelli style. It's the most sought of all wineries during the long conducted annual Dry creek Festival; their mailing list is long and worth the wait. Ridge, Seghesio, a few others , surely Turley must be mentioned;-and Rochiolli, although making a very limited production-not distributed I think makes a Zinfandel so refined, it belongs in Bordeaux. -Robert Bentley CWE CWS

    Jan 12, 2012 at 4:45 PM


  • Snooth User: rexdriver
    892830 0

    Had a frei bros old vine 2008 the other day ranked rite up there with sausal anyday!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 4:48 PM


  • Snooth User: BLBeyer
    993054 0

    How can you leave Turley out when you discuss Zinfandels?

    Jan 12, 2012 at 4:50 PM


  • Snooth User: darrel57
    158807 0

    Lodi Zins have come a long ways in the last 5 years. Harney Lane's Lizzy James is a top notch zin, M2, St. Amant, Macchia, Borra, Jesse's Grove and somebody else already mentioned Klinker Brick and many others. Back up to the foothills, Sobon is good, others should be given a nod as well, Dillian, Karly, Runquist, as well as Story. Up the hill in El Dorado Fleur Dy Lys, Iverson, Windwalker, Oakstone and others are making some nice Zins as well. It's hard not to be passionate for Sonoma County Zins, but their price tags are starting to make one feel like looking around and you don't have to go too far to drink some nice zin and save a few bucks as well. Lists are fun and you certainly have some of my favorites even if my list might look a bit different!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 5:32 PM


  • Hendry should be added to the list

    Jan 12, 2012 at 6:29 PM


  • Snooth User: lakesnake
    512778 17

    Try Biale Vineyards Napa for a great old line Zin and some other stunning wines.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 6:36 PM


  • Snooth User: nyjazzman
    970624 6

    While in California this past Sept & October my wife and I went on a mini wine buying jag. Spending 5 days in Amador County we visited the Sabon Winery. While not remembering their Zinfandel we did buy a bottle of their 2009 Reserve Primitivo. We also bought some 2008 Zinfandel from Vino Nocetto, & Terra D'Oro which is just down the road. We took a drive to Lodi and bought some Michael David's 7 Deadly Zins & 2009 Lust Zinfandel.
    While in Healdsburg we were recommended to Unti where we bought bought some of their wines including their 2008 Zinfandel Dry Creek.
    Lot's of Wineries and lots of fun!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 7:22 PM


  • Snooth User: zingb
    1017033 0

    I know there are a lot of zins to try to cover but I can't believe no one has mentioned Battaglinis Twin Pines
    Estate Winery in the Russian River Valley. My oh my I just let a secret out.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 8:35 PM


  • Snooth User: mpresar
    994784 8

    Not one mention of Tobin James out of Paso? The James Gang offers several different levels of zin. Even their low end "ballistic" is totally zinful and extremely affordable. Turned on to TJ by a friend down in the SD area.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 9:33 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 184,017

    I love all these comments. I wrote up a list of favorite zin producers , thinking about my top ten and had to stop when I hit 23! I narrowed down the list to these top 10, and many of your suggestions made up the rest of the list. Rafanelli was #11 and that was a tough call to cut it off, then Mauritson was #12 and I wasn't sure if a dozen was too many to list. Then I though why not make it a baker's dozen and add in Carol Shelton...

    So I capped the ;lst at 10 but I'm going to take all your suggestions and put together a list and then get you all to vote on the list so we can determine YOUR top 10 list!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 9:44 PM


  • Snooth User: zinner
    101283 1

    A letter and a word: J Keverson. From their Starkey's Court to Alton Lane their zinfandels are heart singingly amazing!.

    Jan 12, 2012 at 10:44 PM


  • Snooth User: MSG3003
    71735 15

    Buehler - doesn't have the county varieties of Ravenswood, but is consistent and very high quality Howell Mountain goodness!

    Jan 12, 2012 at 11:34 PM


  • Turley........TURLEY.........and TURLEY AGAIN........I generally don't believe in conspiracy theories, but how else can you excuse this omission?

    Jan 12, 2012 at 11:59 PM


  • Snooth User: jjosport
    374907 0

    Biale's Black Chicken has always been my favorite Zin.

    Jan 13, 2012 at 12:15 AM


  • Snooth User: rkane
    776066 12

    Thanks for the list. Personal favorite is Coturri.

    Jan 13, 2012 at 2:37 AM


  • Snooth User: imazinner
    446503 0

    I also wondered how Turley and Seghesio could be omitted. Tres Sabores makes a wonderful Zin and a Zin blend called Por Que No. Paraduxx is great mostly Zin blend.

    Jan 13, 2012 at 10:53 AM


  • Snooth User: jccoulter
    745079 9

    First great Zin just up Dry Creek Rd is Bella Winery and their Big River Zin

    Jan 13, 2012 at 11:59 AM


  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 4,722

    Very good list. The metaphorical references were fun.

    Fantastic discussion from passionate Zinfandel fans. It's been a while since I've felt so many kindred spirits.

    Jan 13, 2012 at 1:15 PM


  • @Bentley Wines I know Doug Nalle well and have been drinking his wines for many years. It's true that Dave Rafanelli made a great product but the Nalle Winery style is completely different in intent and execution. There was no emulation going on, at least in the direction that you specify.

    Jan 13, 2012 at 5:32 PM


  • Snooth User: earld5
    442901 0

    I agree it is impossible to have a TOP 10 ZIN list without TURLEY on it. PLEASE......
    Rafanelli also makes great ZINS

    Jan 14, 2012 at 8:40 AM


  • Snooth User: imazinner
    446503 0

    Opalo's Mountain Zin is another favorite that hit me while I was re-reading the article.

    Jan 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM


  • Why is Dave Rafanelli not on the list! I agree also that Turley is a big miss. Hard to argue with the Ridge and Bedrock though.

    Jan 16, 2012 at 10:25 PM


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