Once again, we feature a wine from premiere winemaker, Joe Otos. His handiwork, this time, is a beautiful and characteristic Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel by Owl Ridge. Joe's love of the breathtaking Sonoma landscape started while he was in college at Sonoma State University in the early '90s. He found a kindred spirit in vineyard owner John Tracy and, in 2001, they founded Owl Ridge together in Dry Creek Valley. Their 2006 vintage led them to be named Best New Winery at the Wine Literary Awards Tasting, and last year alone, Owl Ridge wines brought home 18 gold medals in major competitions.
Dry Creek Valley has been an honored appellation for Zinfandel for over 150 years. The soil and climate here are perfect for this grape, which was once thought to be a native of California. DNA testing showed that it was actually the same grape as Primitivo, which is grown in Southern Italy. Then, of course, the grape was thought to be a native of Italy, until the Croatians said "No, it's ours!" And sure enough, this is actually a native grape of Croatia: Plavac Mali.
Regardless of its heritage, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is one of the most reliable wines grown in California. Owl Ridge wines are a classic example of why Dry Creek Valley is dominant in this varietal. The grapes are picked fairly ripe to extract color and density in the finished wine. They're then aged in small, French oak barrels to soften the rough edges, reduce alcohols and add spice and vanilla components. The result is a powerful expression of great Zinfandel with spice and strawberry to spare.
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