This month, our elegant Grist Vineyard Zinfandel gets the spotlight. Co-Founder and Co-Winemaker Micah Wirth tells us about this particular property and the story behind it. Read on for details about this Dry Creek Valley vineyard as well as our very first vintage.
In 2007, while on the hunt for fruit for our budding winery (pun intended), I tagged along for a vineyard tour with the winemaker Gary Farrell (my employer at the time). Gary always had an eye for extraordinary vineyards, and when we arrived at Grist Vineyard, it was no exception. Gary Farrell Winery has produced Grist Vineyard Zin for 15+ years. We hope to say the same some day.
About 1000 feet above the valley floor with pungent, red volcanic soil, the Grist Vineyard was home to vines that were old and head-trained. Having seen the fruit come in at Gary Farrell Winey in years past, I had always been impressed by its quality and flavor. Seeing the property for myself helped me understand its complexity.
Grist Vineyard is located at the top of Bradford Mountain, the tallest crest of the coastal range along the border of Dry Creek Valley just west of Healdsburg in Sonoma County. The vineyard got its name from the old Grist Mill on the property. It was originally planted to Zinfandel over 100 years ago. The Hambrecht Family replanted it in 1974 using cuttings from the mother vines. It has been certified organic since 2003. The fruit from Grist has been sold to many cult producers such as Turley, Gary Farrell, and Lambert Bridge.
Warren Burton farms the property, and he was kind enough to show us around on that day in 2007. I asked him what my chances were of getting my hands on some of that fruit, and he surprisingly agreed to sell Adrian and I 3 tons from his favorite block. We have continued to purchase that fruit every year since.
The vines are head-pruned, which helps maintain low-yields and acidity during ripening. One of the many benefits to being planted at the top of Bradford Mountain is that the vineyard is above the fog line, which decreases humidity and increases hours of sunshine. The cool afternoon breeze from the Pacific Ocean just 15 miles to the east keeps the grapes from getting overheated, which helps us achieve a more delicate style of Zinfandel.
We strive for fresh fruit nuances over jammy fruit flavors along with higher acidity and lower alcohol. Wine made in this way is more age-worthy than the tannic, over-extracted style. We also pick sooner than most Dry Creek Valley producers and use special 18-month wide-grain French oak barrels, which imparts a nice spice quality to the wine.
To celebrate Grist Vineyard and the longevity of the wines, we are offering a library release of the extremely limited 2007 debut vintage! There are only 24 bottles available, limit 2 bottles per person. BUY NOW
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your feedback. Feel free to email me with questions or comments about Joseph Jewell wines.