January Focus Group Winner
Taking it back to when Zin was easy drinking and no thinking! Dry farmed, head trained, gnarly zinfandel vines farmed by the Tollini family that were planted in the 1970's in the heart of Mendocino are no bull! Easy tannins and bright natural acidity carry the layers of juicy fruit and zesty spice. Whether having a dinner party, barbecuing, relaxing after work, or on a weekend getaway, there's never a wrong time to make it old school.
Peterson Winery has been producing wine in Dry Creek Valley for 30 years and, like most wineries in the Valley, produces Zinfandel as well as other wines. Yet a closer look shows that is where the similarities end.
Owner Fred Peterson is an iconoclast with an old world winemaking philosophy and a reverence for sustainable farming. The Peterson approach is to capture the essence of vintage and vineyard—a philosophy they call Zero Manipulation—with low tech, yet high touch, to produce wines of a place, wines with soul. The evolution of Peterson wines and winemaking accelerated when
Fred’s son Jamie became assistant winemaker in the summer of 2002. In 2006, after moving from the tiny red barn on Lytton Springs to Timber Crest Farms, Jamie was given the overall responsibilities as winemaker. As a winegrowing team, Fred and Jamie assess the grapes from each vineyard and vintage as the season progresses, evaluating how the weather, soil and site are interacting for the particular vintage. At Peterson winery, the winemaking process begins while the grapes are still on the vines. Zero Manipulation is a discipline the Petersons follow to capture the character and balance of inherent in the grapes. Zero Manipulation means using the most gentle, traditional winemaking practices possible to maximize the flavors, aromatics and texture of the wines. Fred and Jamie celebrate vintage differences and don’t tweak or homogenize the wine to obtain consistency of flavors, a common practice in mass-market wineries. For Fred and Jamie, Peterson Winery is all about the wines. But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see the heart and soul that goes into every bottle.
Making great wines is all about balance.
It starts in the vineyards, where we try to achieve a balance from bud break in the spring until the grapes are picked in the fall. Balancing the canopy, the crop load, the sun exposure, the hang time, and the few hundred other details involved in managing a vineyard are what need to be considered to achieve balance.
Once the grapes are picked, it is then the winemaker’s responsibility to continue the balancing act in the cellar. All the variables that Mother Nature gave us during the growing season need to be considered because they affect the grapes and the approach to winemaking for that vintage. If you keep a good handle on the growing conditions of the season, you have fewer preconceived notions of what the wine should taste like because you’ve already been dealing with all the realities of that vintage.
With the winemaking underway, now the balancing act involves questions like how much oak to achieve the proper intensity in the wine,what type of oak best enhances the flavors in this wine, how often should this wine be racked, or does this wine need blending?
At Peterson Winery we practice the philosophy of Zero Manipulation.
Our definition of Zero Manipulation is using the gentlest winemaking techniques possible to maximize flavors, aromatics and the original essence of the wine. The less you do in the course of a wine’s tenure in the cellar, the more of the grape’s and vineyard’s essence you’ll have to bottle. Every time you do something to a wine, you take out a little of what you started with.