January 29, 2020
by Bruce Neyers
I’ve been working with Zinfandel grapes since my first California harvest, the 1972 vintage at Mayacamas Winery. My fondness for the wine began by drinking it with the meals Barbara prepared after watching Julia Child on ‘The French Chef’. While I’ve enjoyed Zinfandel from many producers, the best bottlings I’ve had are those Tadeo has made from the ‘Vista Luna’ vineyard, a beautiful parcel in the Sierra foothills Borden Ranch AVA. Three characteristics of the vineyard make these grapes especially well-suited to the style of wines I like:
-The plant material is an heirloom selection of Zinfandel, with smaller than normal clusters that ripen evenly, avoiding over-ripe raisins and under-ripe green grapes, producing a more flavorful wine.
-The vines are planted on a rocky outcropping formed by a large natural deposit of quartz and granite, adding an attractive mineral component to the wine.
-The generally warm climate is artificially chilled by a phenomenon known as the ‘Sierra Rotor’, a steady, cooling breeze that originates in the Pacific Ocean just off the Golden Gate, then drawn to the Sierra foothills by the high barometric pressure of the Central Valley.
This combination of heirloom plant material, unique soil, and cool weather yields grapes that reach full maturity at lower sugar levels, and results in wines that rarely exceed 14% alcohol. For the past decade or so we relied on a single vineyard in the Borden Ranch AVA for these grapes, but in 2018 we added fruit from two neighboring vineyards, each with similar characteristics. We can no longer call the wine ‘Vista Luna Vineyard’ now, so we call the wine ‘Vista Notre’, thinking of it as our vision of Zinfandel grown in these conditions. All three vineyards are in the same general area of the Sierra foothills, so they share a similar terroir and climate. The result is a style built around ripeness with low alcohol, and we’ve grown increasingly comfortable with this combination of bright fruit, low alcohol and attractive minerality. We’ve learned as well that while the wines made from this area can be enjoyed immediately, they age with both style and grace. Here is the inaugural look at the Neyers Vineyards Zinfandel ‘Vista Notre’. There will no longer be a separate bottling of Zinfandel labeled as ‘Vista Luna’.