Ravenswood Single Vineyard Dickerson Zinfandel, Napa Valley 2015

Deep purple color; raspberry, cherry, strawberry, cedar on the nose; raspberry, blackberry, blueberry tart, dark plum, dark cherry, mint, nutmeg on the palate.

Ravenswood Single Vineyard Dickerson Zinfandel, Napa Valley 2015

Dry; rich, warm, refined, full body. Big, delicious fruit; subtle, fine tannins and acidity; 100% zin; 15.1% ABV. The alcohol and ripe fruits deliver the sensation of phenolic sweetness. This provides the serious, lush experience you anticipate with a Ravenswood single vineyard offering. Well structured, with mint, black pepper, and dill notes on the luxurious finish. Very nice wine.

Zin arrived in California at several locations in the 1850s, brought by New England gold rushers, who knew the grape in New England beginning in the 1820s. In California “Zeinfandall”—as it was called—became the state’s most important wine grape. Today, at 54,000 acres, it is California’s second-most planted behind cabernet sauvignon. Ravenswood is famous for it.

Dickerson vineyard

The Dickerson vineyard includes 10 acres of zin planted in 1930; three more acres were planted in 1979, then three more in 1985 for a total of 10. The Dickerson vineyard is located on Zinfandel Lane in Napa in a site sheltered by the Mayacamas Range to the west. The wine spends 19 months in French oak, 25% new, which means oak is an accent, not a marquee player, which is a plus.

Joel Peterson started the Ravenswood adventure in 1976. Educated as a clinical laboratory scientist with a degree in microbiology from Oregon State University, Joel is the son of two chemists. Mom was a nuclear chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project. Dad was a physical chemist who specialized in high-temperature lubricants used in industrial machinery. With this grounding in science, Joel pursued a full-time career in cancer immunology research at a San Francisco hospital. And he dabbled in wine.

On a fall day in 1976, as ravens taunted him from tree branches above, Joel worked feverishly to bring in four tons of grapes before a looming thunderstorm hit. The fruit crushed that night was used for one of two single-vineyard Sonoma County zins—the first wines to bear the signature ring of three ravens in the Ravenswood logo. Those wines won first and second place rankings at the prestigious San Francisco tasting in 1979. Thus a career was launched.

Ravenswood logo

Buoyed by those bona fides and partnered with Reed Foster—a Harvard MBA who managed paper pushing while Joel managed plant pushing—Joel attracted investors, spent five years moving around rented winery spaces, and gained access to a cadre of loyal and talented grape growers. In 1991, Ravenswood moved to its own, modern winery on the outskirts of Sonoma.

In 2001, Peterson cashed in and sold to Constellation Brands, the largest wine company in the world, but—fortunately—one that typically does not mess up an operation when they buy it. In spring 2019, Constellation sold Ravenswood and some 30 other wine and spirits brands to E. & J. Gallo for $1.7 billion. Gallo is the largest family owned wine company in the world, and we can all pray with some confidence they will allow Ravenswood to continue to be a leading zin maker. A long, strange trip it may be, but why would Gallo mess up a winning hand with Ravenswood’s single vineyard successes?

Ravenswood Single Vineyard Dickerson Zinfandel, Napa Valley 2015 is sophisticated, lush, rich, easily takes its place in the Ravenswood tradition of quality single-vineyard zins. Ravenswood is widely available, although with 800 cases of this made, you may have to search to find it—go online. If you can’t find this, other Ravenswood single vineyard efforts deliver, too. Pair with leg of lamb, grilled prime rib and other grilled meats; meat stews; barbecued meats; pork tenderloin; spicy foods. You could go with comfort foods such as loaded hamburgers, sliders, and pizza, but this is so sophisticated, I would hesitate to opt for this serious, delightful effort on everyday fare. $38-44

Ravenswood website

Dickerson vineyard vine
Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson
Ravenswood winery
Ravenswood tasting room
Ravenswood entrance