Once & Future 2019 Zinfandel, Green & Red Vineyard, Napa Valley
Item Number: 16400
Sub Region: Napa Valley
Appellation/AVA: Chiles Valley
Estate Grown Wine: No
Vineyard Designation: Green & Red Vineyard
Grape(s): 80% Zinfandel / 20% Petite Sirah
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Alc by Vol(%): 15
Soil Type: Red Chert and green Serpentine
Case Production: 331
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 by Joel Peterson: I met Jay Heminway many years ago. He was thoughtful, clearly artistic, a little reserved (for a guy who raced motorcycles) but very enthusiastic about his winery project in Napa’s Chiles Valley. He and I started our respective wineries about the same time. He in 1977 and I in 1976. We were enthusiastic about Zinfandel, founding members in 1992 of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP), and both had connections to Berkeley and Chez Panisse. When asked why he didn’t plant Cabernet Sauvignon like everyone else, he would respond that he had tasted some Zinfandels that were the equivalent of any of the Napa Cabs that he had tried. I concur. So, he planted Zinfandel and some Petite Sirah on the steep slopes of red Chert that gave his winery half of its name. The other half of the name is derived from the green bands of Serpentine that are also found on the property. The Zinfandel he produced from these hard-won vineyards was wonderful, confirming his faith in the grape and the site. Jay became a mountain man in Chiles Valley. He didn’t like to leave his idyllic property much and as a consequence my primary connection with him was tasting and appreciating his wine. Not long before he passed away I managed to coax him off his mountain to be interviewed by me for a ZAP event in San Francisco. He was the same thoughtful, artistic, reserved but enthusiastic guy that I had met many years before but now I also noticed a bright note of smiling humor in his eye and a comfort in demeanor that you see in people who are living a fulfilling life.
After Jay was gone, his daughter Tobin took on the life project that she had grown up with. She, and the rest of the family, continue to produce wines that have the “unique to place” character that is so special to the Green and Red Vineyard. She has also begun sharing some of the grapes that come from the vineyard. I count myself lucky to be among those chosen to share Jay Heminway’s legacy. My grapes come from the Tip Top Vineyard that is one of the three sections of the Heminway Vineyard as it is now being called by others, like Turley and Biale, who also get grapes from this vineyard. While I love the fact that Jay’s name is now attached to the vineyard, it will always be Green and Red to me. As a consequence, the Once & Future wine carries the Green and Red name. I am pretty sure that Jay would have loved the wine that also carries the “unique” sense of the place that he loved.