Vintners rally to preserve Russian River Valley’s historic Zinfandel vineyardsPapera’s devoted longtime caretaker, Tom Feeney, had died; in 2006, Feeney’s son sold the vineyard to a private real estate investment fund, ready to realize the plot’s full financial potential.“They were all set to tear out the Zin and plant Pinot Noir at Papera,” Officer says.Because this is Russian River Valley, and Pinot Noir is what should be planted here, according to the pencil pushers.Cooler and breezier than vineyards abutting the river along Westside and Eastside roads, Piner-Olivet was historically a stronghold for Zinfandel.Mike Officer believes these Italians’ now-ancient vineyards are treasures, and has tried over and over again to save these historic plots of land from dual threats:Santa Rosa residential development, and the Russian River cash crop — Pinot Noir.The wines it yields — from wineries including Carlisle, Williams Selyem, Bedrock and Novy — are extraordinary, and baldly contradict any popular notions of Zinfandel as jammy and hot.A Palo Alto-based angel investor — and wine lover — named Stuart Coulson had contacted him, expressing interest in getting into the wine industry.“To me, it’s like having a beautiful work of art, or a historic building, and people just want to get rid of it,” says Officer, who is a co-founder of the Historic Vineyard Society.After a series of defeats for the historic plantings, some new vintners have recently purchased properties in the area and made clear their commitment to upholding Piner-Olivet’s viticultural legacy.In the cases of some Piner-Olivet properties — Papera, Saitone — Officer directly connected the right kinds of buyers with the sellers.Before Seghesio bought Montafi, Officer had leased it “for an obscene amount of money,” he says, to prevent the previous owners from planting Pinot there.When he bought his own Carlisle Vineyard, in 1998, Officer beat out developers with much deeper pockets because he was able to convince then-owner Barbara Pelletti, whose father, Alcide, had planted the vineyard in 1927, that he would preserve her father’s vision.[...] I think producers, and now consumers, are starting to get a sense for what these vines really mean.“The reasons why traditions stay is because of success in the past,” says Jesse Katz, as of last November the owner of the Ponzo vineyard, planted in 1912.In other words, the longevity of these Zinfandel plantings testifies to their enduring appeal, impervious to any decade’s trends and fads.Head-trained Zin - bush vines, the Europeans would say - is floppy, its sun exposure scattered and irregular, far less systematic in producing sugary grapes.Williams Selyem is among California’s most famous Pinot Noir producers; less well known is the winery’s longstanding interest in Russian River Zinfandel.Plantings of that era were never monovarietal — it wasn’t customary to plant vineyard blocks to a single grape variety until after Repeal.[...] interspersed among the Zinfandel in these old fields is a cornucopia of “mixed black” varieties: a Mourvedre vine here, a Tempranillo vine there.Officer lights up with reverence when he talks about his vineyard.Like an archaeologist piecing together the lives of an extinct population through fragments of their pottery, he finds himself excavating the farming practices, and thought processes, of the San Pellegrinetto settlers through the roots they left behind.Wines, especially Zinfandels, from the Piner-Olivet neighborhood of Santa Rosa show distinctive characteristics that you won’t find elsewhere in the Russian River Valley appellation.Carlisle Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard Russian River Valley 2014 ($47, 15%): Mike Officer describes the signature flavor of his estate vineyard as “mulberry,” and it’s easy to see why.Ripe bright fruits — red raspberry preserves; juicy red plum — and the flavor of licorice are lifted by a searing line of acidity.Though it’s clearly not Zin — notice that leathery, cured-meat savory character mingling with the aroma of fresh peonies — it screams Piner-Olivet, with seductive blue and red fruit notes and ultra-bright acid.Joseph Swan Zinfandel Zeigler Vineyard Russian River Valley 2012 ($34, 13%): The century-old Zeigler Vineyard, across the street from Mancini, is wild-looking, dotted with scattered, struggling vines.Much lighter and more translucent in the glass than other Zins from the area, Swan’s interpretation of Zeigler shows Russian River qualities more often associated with Pinot Noir:Hartford Zinfandel Russian River Valley Jolene’s Vineyard 2014 ($60, 15.5%): From the Maffei Vineyard, planted in the 1920s; “Jolene’s” is Hartford’s amalgamation of the owners’ names, Joanne and Arlene.The fruit is explosive, ripe and red: raspberry, rhubarb and strawberry, grounded with tobacco and sage accents.Bedrock Zinfandel Carlisle Vineyard Russian River Valley 2015 ($44.95, 14.6%): Ripe blueberry and boysenberry mingle here with red raspberry preserves.Seghesio Zinfandel Maffei Vineyard Russian River Valley 2015 ($48, 15.4% ): Showing the heft of the 2015 vintage, the currant, red plum, strawberry and blueberry flavors are ripe to the point of bursting, as if baked in a pie.Earthy and floral, it’s marked not only by bright red fruits like raspberry and cherry but also fig and a suggestion of cooling eucalyptus.Williams Selyem Zinfandel Papera Ranch Russian River Valley 2015 ($65, 14.8%): Pungent with cumin, star anise, Asian spice and lavender, Williams Selyem’s 2015 Papera has at its core the red berry fruits and piercing acidity that are the signatures of this extraordinary vineyard.Reichwage Carignan Mancini Ranch Russian River Valley 2016 (not yet released): Max Reichwage’s inaugural vintage from his estate vineyard — which I tasted from barrel — includes a wine from the site’s all-Carignan block, a rarity in the Piner-Olivet area.
NYS Entity Status
NYS Filing Date
SEPTEMBER 05, 2013
NYS DOS ID#
VINCENTE D''INGIANNI, JR.
14578 KEUKA VILLAGE ROAD
DUNDEE, NEW YORK, 14837-9601
NYS Entity Type
DOMESTIC LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
2013 - EASTSIDE VINEYARDS, LLC
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