Once & Future 2019 Zinfandel, Oakley Road, Contra Costa County
Item Number: 16395
Sub Region: Central Coast
Appellation/AVA: Contra Costa County
Estate Grown Wine: No
Vineyard Designation: Oakley Road Vineyard
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alc by Vol(%): 14.9
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
Soil Type: Sand
Case Production: 596
Winemaking Notes: All the wines from the 2019 vintage have been made in the traditional Once & Future wine style: small open-topped redwood fermenters, full destemming, no berry sorting, indigenous yeast, hand punch down of the cap, indigenous malolactic fermentation, and aging in French oak on the yeast with variable amounts of new barrels, depending on the character of the wine. The wines were bottled with no fining or filtration. In short, this is very simple, traditional winemaking that relies on the unique aspects of the vineyard to define the flavor, nature, and quality of the wine. The goal here is not to make a good-flavored beverage, though these wines taste very good; it is to give the drinker a sense of the vintage and place that formed the flavors in these wines. These 2019 wines are bright and juicy on the palate with a strong spine of acid and tannin.
Vineyard Notes: Oakley Road Zinfandel is planted on the same sandy slopes as the Oakley Road Mataro. These vines, planted around 1900, are on their own roots. They are truly bush vines coming out of the sand with multiple arms like hydra. Unlike most other California Zinfandel vineyards, the fruit is carried relatively low to the ground. The proximity to the ground acts as shelter from the wind, which can be moderately intense in the afternoon in Oakley. A good amount of light and heat is reflected back on the grapes from the sandy soils. The vineyard has about 10% Carignan and Mataro interplanted with the Zinfandel. The sandy soils and the own-rooted vines tend to produce unique, suave, and textural characteristics in the wine. The wine has bright, ripe flavors, and is very spicy with fresh acidity and smooth, fine tannins.
These Oakley Road vines may not be around much longer. This part of Contra Costa is changing rapidly. It has been an industrial backwater for a long time. High tension electrical lines, a PG&E power plant, and motels that rent by the hour stand in contrast to an inordinate number of churches and an increasing reality of fast food restaurants that populate a disjointed human landscape. There is increasing urbanization as roads are widened and BART pushes east. Many of these vineyards are for sale with inflated land prices, having been designated as commercial land—the result being land costs that are more compatible with strip malls than farming. For now, the vines remain in the ground, producing viticultural treasure. And for now, Joel continues to make lovely wine.