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
Ridge Vineyards is one of the granddaddies of Zinfandel production in California, particularly with their twin flagships Geyserville and Lytton Springs, though neither of those is technically a Zinfandel anymore.
While both of these wines started as Zinfandels, or more specifically field blends with enough Zin in them to be labeled as such, the regulations have moved. Today, they are labeled as field blends with proprietary names. Make no mistake, these are classic California Zinfandels, balanced and rich with a very favorable record for ageing well.
This is the Ford Mustang of Zinfandel.
Ridge Vineyards / Lytton Springs
650 Lytton Springs Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Bedrock is a new comer to the Zinfandel game, but with a long pedigree. Proprietor Morgan Twain-Peterson is the son of Joel Peterson, famed Ravenswood founder. With such an early exposure to all things Zin, it’s no surprise to find Morgan already, at age 30, producing his own wines.
What is surprising is how damn good these are. They are big, as is usually the case with Zinfandel, but are balanced and fresh as well. They’re also really tough to get your hands on, this is a mailing list-driven winery with a very full list!
This is the Honda Ridgeline of Zinfandel.
Bedrock Wine Co.
P.O. Box 1826
Sonoma, CA 95476
Speaking of mailing list wineries and rich, powerful yet bright Zins, Mike Officer at Carlisle has been producing amazing wines for well over a decade. In that time, some of his beloved fruit sources, the famous old vine Zinfandel/field blend vineyards, have disappeared.
Carlisle’s success lies not only in the skill and finesse that Mike shows in his cellar, but it also in the ancient vines he prefers and the work done in the vineyards. Buying Mike’s wine helps to preserve our Zinfandel history and the fact that you’re going to drink brilliant Zin is just gravy! Right?
This is the Action Thriller of Zinfandel.
Carlisle Winery & Vineyards
P.O. Box 556
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
What is it with guys named Mike and Zinfandel? I’ve only had one year, though several vintages, of Michael Talty’s wines and I can honestly say they are a revelation. The perfumes and finesse these wines show are absolutely Burgundian, or as Burgundian as you’re gonna get with Zinfandel.
If you’re looking for power, there are better options out there. If you want to see and smell Zinfandel like never before, you have to try a Talty Zinfandel and pair it with food. Not just the bronto burgers and bison ribs that Zins naturally partner, these wines work with more elegant food. I’ve had great success pairing them with Italian food in particular!
This is the Opera of Zinfandel.
7127 Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Really? Another Mike? I think we’re onto something. Mike Dashe’s wines are another style, seemingly straddling the space between Talty and Carlisle. These wines skirt the lines between elegance and richness, always delivering a lovely, rich and expressive style of Zin.
The one outlier here is the L’Enfant Terrible Zinfandel (they also make a Grenache). Native yeast, neutral barrels, low SO2, organic fruit. It’s a geek wine and like nothing you’ve tried before when it comes to Zinfandel. Wild, but lean and wiry.
This is the Modern Dance of Zinfandel.
55 4th Street
Oakland, CA 94607