Deep ruby color; blackberry, boysenberry, vanilla, tea, spice on the nose; blackberry, plum, blueberry, raspberry, cherry, fig, vanilla, licorice, chocolate, pepper on the palate.
Dry; supple tannins; low acidity. Smooth blend of 93% zinfandel, 7% petite sirah. Mild oak influence from 16 months in American—10% new—and French oak. De-stemmed, cold soaked to extracted color and flavor, followed by tank fermentation, then final fermentation and malolactic fermentation in oak barrels.
Fruit-forward. Nicely extended finish. Medium body. Excellent mouthfeel. Vivid fruit; smooth and juicy, which muffles significant alcohol—15.9% ABV. Fruit comes for El Dorado County (42%), Amador County (32%), Lake County (17%), Napa County (6%), and Lodi (3%). Fruit hand-picked at dawn and sorted in the vineyard. Sustainably farmed.
Koerner Rombauer enjoyed a nearly 30-year career as a pilot. First with the California Air National Guard in 1956, then as a commercial pilot beginning in 1965. Although Koerner and Joan Ransome attended the same high school in Escondido, California, they did not begin dating until they meet after college. In 1959, they married.
Seeking a small-town, agricultural life, the Rombauers and their two children moved to Napa Valley in 1972. They first rented a 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. Winemaking is part of Rombauer’s heritage. Koerner’s ancestors made wine in the famous Reingau region in Germany.
Wanting more knowledge and experience, Joan joined the sales team at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 1981. Over the next 12 years 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 as a custom-crush facility for up-and-coming elite wineries: Dominus, Duckhorn, Merryvale, Etude, Spottswoode, and other signal makers today.
Rombauer wines won accolades in the following years. 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.
In 2002, Joan passed from pancreatic cancer. The family established endowments to support 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. He rose through the ranks and is head winemaker today. In 2015, Rombauer Vineyards celebrated its 35th anniversary as 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 died at age 83.
Rombauer Vineyards Zinfandel 2018 is both very smooth and rich, bold, fruit-forward. Classic California zin. Ripe fruit is expressive, expansive, plush, delicious, generous in the mouth. Pair with pulled pork; lamb; beef; poultry; sausage; strong cheese. Works as a solo sipper, as “cocktail” wine. Koerner’s great aunt, Irma Rombauer, wrote the best selling book, The Joy of Cooking. On their website, the winery features recipes from that book to pair with Rombauer wines. $34-40