OVZ 102 | Joel Peterson, Ravenswood

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What an intelligent, thoughtful and all-around great guy we have as Zinfandel’s Ultimate Ambassador in Joel Peterson.

Listen as we discuss Old Vine/Ancient Vine definitions, Prohibition, great-smelling women, ZAP, the legendary wine of Joseph Swan, KISS comic books and more!

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Links we mentioned in this episode:

Ravenswood Winery


Thanks to everybody who called in on the ZinTalk Hotline!

P.S. Here’s a picture of the Ravenswood Shiraz with the kangaroos that always cracked me up:

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Chris has written 13 articles for us at Old Vine Zin ~ Your Guide To The Zinfandel Lifestyle

Twitter: @oldvinezin | Facebook


Peter Fanucchi July 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

O.K., here is my 10 cents: On some points, I kind of agree.

From my perspective, I started using the term “Old Vine” to describe our Zinfandel. Ours are indeed planted in a root-limiting, shallow, sandy loam at an elevation around 135 feet on the Wood Road Bench in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, that many believed were planted around 1906, and more recently found that it was more likely planted as much as 15 years earlier.

I have been personally tending theses vines for decades. We have all those limiting qualities that produce those concentrated flavors Joel was talking about. Since it’s been used for vineyard designate wines since the 1990s, it’s always garnered high praise.

Not too far away from us, there are Zinfandel vineyards planted in the same era (& also some in that 40 year range Joel was discussing as “OLD”), but they are planted at an elevation of about 90 feet, on a deep black clay loam with a very high water table that the roots easily reach. Those vines are much larger — frankly, giants in comparison. In the years when I remember quantity being less a concern (1970s & 1980s), some of those vineyards were easily yielding five to ten times what our vines could.

Even though those vines are about 45 to 120 years old and in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley Ultra Premium Wine Growing region, they don’t make the dark, concentrated Zinfandels we think of as “Old Vine.”

On the whole issue of the use of the term “Old Vine,” for the most part my “fans” have an established concept of what The Fanucchi Wood Road Old Vine Zinfandel Vineyard is, but I think in general the term has been too abused.

A few years ago, I attended the ZAP Grand Tasting as an “undercover” guest and tasted some very poor stuff labeled “Old Vine.” I was flabbergasted when I asked a proprietor how old the vines were. By the look on his face and the sound of his voice, you could tell it was a boldfaced lie when he said, “About 20.”

It becomes much more important to know the exact location of the fruit source. The specific Vineyard Designation is probably far more important than how old the vines are.

To make another example, also in the same 2 mile radius, there is a very well cared for Zinfandel vineyard on the same kind of soil and elevation conditions as we have, but on a very meticulously tended trellis. They took their favorite closes out of their famous old Zinfandel block, and before it was 10 years old (now it’s almost 20) it was producing superb high end Zinfandel that competes with the the finest Old Vine stuff. They named the vineyard after the grandparents, and do not call it “Old Vine” or bother to try and claim that name.

Michael Perlis July 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

The show brought back a somewhat bittersweet memory of Bill Dickerson, who owned the Dickerson Vineyard that Ravenswood bottles as a single vineyard. Bill also bottled the Dickerson Zin under his own label, as well as a Ruby Cabernet. Back before email, Bill and I used to have telephone conversations as well as exchange faxes. Sadly, he and his wife Jane died in late 2004 in the tsunami while visiting Thailand. Nice man and very patient with me.

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