The Zin Mission
The Nalle family is certainly on a “Zinfandel mission.” Working with a grape that often yields wines that can reach sky-high levels of alcohol, Nalle’s Zinfandels never overstep 14 percent. These are wines that whisper — enticing you with their vibrant acidity, yet never sacrificing Zinfandel’s signature flamboyant fruitiness. Doug Nalle founded the estate in 1984 (originally a partnership with Bill Hambrecht, under the name Nalle-Hambrecht), but today his son Andrew serves as owner and winemaker.
Inside the tasting room, things couldn’t appear simpler — you essentially stand and sip over cloth-covered fold-out tables. Make sure to take some time to walk around outside, though. First, notice the gnarly, head-trained vines out by the parking lot. They’re nearly a century old and go into the Henderlong Estate bottling. Then, look at the tasting room/production facility from the exterior. They’ve essentially constructed an above-ground cave, covered in dirt, with three hundred rosemary bushes blooming on top. The plants actually keep the building cool, eliminating the need for temperature control. –February 2017
- WHAT TO TRY: As noted, Zinfandel is the main passion here. But, you’ll also get the opportunity to taste the more standard fare. They make Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley as well as a Cabernet/Merlot blend from the Dry Creek Valley property.
- INSIDE INFO: Want to learn a little something about Zin? If you’re going near harvest time, take a look at Nalle’s grape clusters and compare them to their neighbor’s (the more-traditional-looking vineyard next door). You’ll see a lot more consistency across Nalle’s grapes — the berries are closer to the same size and color. That’s not that easy to accomplish with Zinfandel, but it can make a huge difference in quality.