Ravenswood Old Hill Zinfandel 2013

Ravenswood Old Hill Zinfandel 2013: Dark ruby with hint of translucence color; raspberry, mint, eucalyptus on the nose; rich red fruits, cherry, raspberry, blackberry on the palate;

powerful wine, fine tannin—let it breath/decant, it evolves beautifully. Smooth in the mouth; dry, fruit-forward, balancing acidity (3.79 pH), some minerality; delicious and long finish. There is a massive backstory to this tasty wine. The Old Hill vineyard is the founding zin vineyard in Sonoma, located on the eastern side of the Valley of the Moon. Founder William McPherson Hill may have planted zinfandel on the property as early as 1855; wine made from his grapes received high praise by 1871. William Hill died in 1897; son Robert Potter Hill farmed the ranch/vineyard until his death in 1940. Otto and Anne Teller purchased Old Hill Ranch in 1981; the previous owners had abandoned the property after a fire burned down the original Hill House, and the vineyard was infested with blackberry vines and poison oak. UC Davis experts advised ripping everything up and planting new, but Otto would have none of that. Instead he brought the 24-acre vineyard and its zin vines planted in the 1880s back from the near-dead. He cleared brush, cultivated a layer of grass for ground cover, stimulated growth with foliar kelp, relied on ladybugs and praying mantis to control pests. He also struck a deal with Joel Peterson at Ravenswood Winery to provide him zin grapes from the oldest zin vines in Sonoma. Otto died in 1998, and his stepson Will Bucklin took over Old Hill, preserving the inspiring tradition. Today, Old Hill is a dry-farmed treasure; the grapes are about 75% zinfandel mixed with assorted black grapes—grenache, petite syrah, carignane, alicante, and others—making this a field blend wine. The zins are harvested first because they ripen early, then there is a second harvest of the other varieties. It all makes for an astonishing complex and delicious wine that should be on every zin lover’s bucket list. $60
Ravenswood Winery website
Second photo: Old Hill vineyard’s ancient zin vines
Ravenswood Old Hill Zinfandel
Old Hill vineyard