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Known as Tribidrag or Crljenak Kastelanski in Croatia and Primitivo in Italy, the Zinfandel grape produces full-bodied red wines grown throughout California. Though historically known for its big and jammy versions, Sierra Foothills' Zins are now trending towards subtlety and nuance, and we at Foothills Wino salute this direction. Utilizing the combination of heat and the cooling influences present in the Foothills, more delicate, balanced versions are produced with fresh fruit flavors that often cover the fruit spectrum with a mélange of red, blue, and black fruit.    


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In the middle of Prohibition, Sadie Upton, a kickass pioneer woman, decided to plant a Zinfandel vineyard. Over 100 years later, these vines are in the hands of the Zin masters, Turley Wine Cellars. The story alone is enough to make this our Panel Selection, but the wine is so complex and balanced, it doesn't need a story to make it worthy of the honor. Truth be told, any of Turley's Sierra Foothills Zins could be sitting here, but this one is our personal favorite. The only problem with it is that it sells out so quickly. 


2015 Amador Cellars Zinfandel

A beautifully clean and crystal-clear expression of Foothills Zinfandel. Anise and sweet spices support intense, rich, multi-colored fruit… an absolutely delicious wine from this super-hot producer! They also produce a Reserve version and a Native version that are equally impressive.


Bright and beautiful fruit from the peerless Shake Ridge Ranch vineyard in the hands of one of the Foothills top winemakers... a perfect combination and a flawless Zin.

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This beauty from Bella Grace is an interesting and complex blend of different clones and old and new vines from a winemaker well versed in handling Zinfandel. This is Amador County in a bottle.


The vines are oriented to maximize late-day sun exposure, and the skins are submerged during fermentation to create an intense wine that can stand up to its aggressive oak treatment. This is a powerhouse Zin from a true expert in flavor creation! 


For those that like your Zin ripe and fruit forward, this is the Zin for you. Di Stasio is a long-time grape supplying family in the Shenandoah Valley and only fairly recently has started producing and bottling wine under their own label. They seem to be getting better every year, as this wine shows. 


We could have chosen any of Easton's wonderful Zins, each of which demonstrates the winery's inimitable style. Bill bucks all trends and marches to his own drum. Most importantly, he lets the grapes do the talking. This "E" version from a high elevation, organic vineyard and vinified in a natural style particularly highlights the subtleties that make Easton so special.  


History in a glass. The Original Grandpere Vineyard, now called Vineyard 1869, is reputed to be one of the (if not the) oldest vineyard in the state. These venerable old vines produce grapes of unequaled complexity and concentration, and Scott Harvey uses a delicate touch to coax them into a flawless wine that has a finish that seemingly lasts another 150 years.


The only El Dorado County Zinfandel that makes our list, the Shadow Ranch Zin is an excellent example of what this wine can be in the higher elevation portion of the Foothills. This wine offers a pleasing mix of fruit of varying ripenesses and well-integrated oak.


A badass Zinfandel at a badass price! The historic Terra d'Oro was the first post-Prohibition commercial winery in Amador (under the name Montevina). Terra d'Oro has been on a huge upswing since winemaker Emily Haines was brought on in 2017. Even with its large scale production, these wines have an artisan feel. This their flagship Zin, is very nicely balanced and layered.  

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Only a handful of wineries are granted permission to source grapes from the 150+ year old vines of the Original Grandpere Vineyard. One of them is Vino Noceto where winemaker Rusty Folena devotes personal attention to and takes extra care each year with these precious little grapes. Rusty spent his youth pruning these ancient vines and it is fitting that he is now a trusted caretaker of the fruit of the vines he once tended. 

2011 Yorba Wines, Shake Ridge Ranch Zinfandel

It's all about the beautiful fruit that comes from Ann Kraemer's Shake Ridge Ranch. Aromas that are black and brambly on the nose give way to refreshingly flavors of fresh red fruit on the palate. The finish is exceptional and exceptionally long with lots of hidden notes that slowly reveal themselves. This wine is both nuanced and powerful at the same time.

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