Rombauer Vineyards California Zinfandel 2020

Deep ruby color; cherry, blackberry, strawberry, plum, vanilla on the nose; blackberry, black cherry, raspberry, plum, vanilla, oak, chocolate, pepper on the palate.

Rombauer Vineyards California Zinfandel 2020

Dry; bold, soft and juicy in the mouth. Juiciness creates illusion of sweetness—great example of California zin. Blend of 98% zinfandel, 2% petit sirah. Juice comes from the heart of zin country and from old vines: 44% Amador County, 43% El Dorado County, 8% Lake County, 5% Napa County. Fine, subtle tannins with mild acidity. 15.9% ABV

The winery asserts: “2020 was a spectacular year for Zinfandel. Dry conditions, coupled with a long, mild, growing season across regions, created small, concentrated Zinfandel berries full of exceptional flavor.” Grapes were destemmed and optically sorted, a process which takes photos of every single grape and removes any not-perfect berry to ensure only specific and ideal fruit makes it into the wine. Cold soaking extracted color and flavor before primary fermentation in tank. The wine gently basket-pressed, then racked to oak barrels to finish primary fermentation, malolactic fermentation, and aging up to 15 months in American (10% new) and French oak.

Introduced to California during the Gold Rush. In the heel of Italy, zin is known as primitivo. DNA indicates it is genetically the same as Croatian grapes crijenak kašelanski and tribidrag. Well, we know it as zinfandel. And we celebrate it as a hedonistic delight.

Joan and Koerner Rombauer

Koerner Rombauer enjoyed a nearly 30-year career as a pilot. First with the California Air National Guard, then as a commercial pilot. Although Koerner and Joan Ransome attended the same high school in Escondido, California, they did not date until they meet after college. In 1959, they married.

Seeking a small-town, agricultural life, the Rombauers moved to Napa Valley in 1972. They first rented property on Highway 29, then purchased a home atop a knoll on 40 acres in St. Helena in 1974. They got into the wine business as partners in the Conn Creek Winery in 1976, then sold their Conn Creek interest to start their own winery in 1980.

Rombauer winemakers

Wanting more experience, Joan joined the sales team at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 1981. She became national sales director. The inaugural wines for Rombauer Vineyards were bottled at Stag’s Leap in 1982. Later, the Rombauers built a winery larger than their needs to serve as their winery and a custom-crush facility for up-and-coming wineries: Dominus, Duckhorn, Merryvale, Etude, Spottswoode, and other elite makers today. Recently, they introduced cutting-edge technology to ensure—guarantee, even—no Rombauer cork will have cork taint.

Rombauer barrel aging

Rombauer wines won accolades from the beginning. Although their first emphasis was cabernet sauvignon, in 1995 their Carneros chardonnay ranked as No. 32 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines list. They now are known as much for their chardonnays as their cabs. In January 2019, they purchased the former Renwood Winery, in part to increase their focus on zinfandel and other red wines. Sauvignon blanc joined the lineup in 2014.

Rombauer fermentation tanks

In 2002, Joan was lost pancreatic cancer. The family established endowments to support the University of California–San Francisco’s pancreatic research efforts and the Napa Valley Hospice & Adult Day Services. Richie Allen joined the Rombauer team in 2008, rose through the ranks, and is head winemaker today. In 2015, Rombauer Vineyards celebrated its 35th anniversary as a family-owned winery, operated by Koerner and his children, KR and Sheana. In 2016, Reagan Rombauer Blackwood became the third generation to join the team. In 2018, Koerner passed at age 83. Richie Allen is the vice president of viticulture and winemaking.

Reagan Rombauer Blackwood
Rombauer VP Richie Allen

Rombauer Vineyards California Zinfandel 2020 is a phenomenal, delicious, classic California zin. Jammy fruits, especially dark plums, decadent dark chocolate, warm vanilla, mocha, and spices. Pair with lamb; pan-roasted rack of lamb; grilled and roasted beef; braised short ribs; baby back ribs; comfort foods—meatloaf, spaghetti and meal balls, lasagna Bolognese; pizza with sausage and peppers; roast and rotisserie chicken; Mexican and Tex-Mex fare. Cheese—hard cheese like cheddar, manchego; blue cheese, feta, aged gruyere, havarti, gorganzola, parmesan. $33-40

Rombauer website, explore the several charming videos

Rombauer vineyard
Rombauer vineyard
Rombauer vineyard