Bella Grace Vineyards is located in the Sierra Foothills region of Amador County, and has tasting locations in the Shenandoah Valley and Sutter Creek. The latter is situated in a restored, Victorian-era cottage that fits right in with the historic feel of the town. The family-run business produces wine from 12 grape varieties harvested there, and they also have three types of olives growing on the estate.
The ten-year-old winery is powered completely by solar energy and has been collecting awards since its first releases. Bella Grace is one of nine producers on the Steiner Road wine trail. Owned by husband-and-wife vintners Michael and Charlie Havill, the operation takes its name from their two grandmothers, Bella and Grace.
Nearly seven acres of the estate are devoted to four different clones of sustainably-farmed Zinfandel grapes.
The 2013 Estate Amador County Zinfandel brings an alcohol level of 14.3% abv to the table and retails for $20. The winery describes it as a "young, assertive Zinfandel," that has great aging potential over the next few years. It’s one of those award winners we heard about earlier.
This wine is a treat. The bright, zippy cherry fruit on the first night turns into darker and more savory stuff on the second, and I love when that happens. The nose is fruity enough, but it does show the minerality nicely along with smoke, leather and cigars. The palate is dark and beefy with some spiciness coming through. The tannins are healthy, but they don't get in the way of the sip.
2013 Old Vine Zinfandel Amador County
Dry farmed in Crain Sleeper Vineyard, a "heritage vineyard" in Shenandoah Valley, this 100% Zinfandel hits 14.5% abv in alcohol and rings up at 30 in American dollars. The grapes were grown and managed by Bob and Carol Sleeper, descendants of one of the original families to settle in California's Shenandoah Valley in the early 1850's. The old vines we have here were planted in the early 1970s, and yes, that makes me feel old, too. The early 1970s were great for music and movies, and apparently for Zinfandel grapes, as well.
The wine is earthy, spicy and deep. It has a dark ruby color, a nose of holiday spices and cherries with minerals all over the place. In the mouth, it's juicy and ripe and full of red fruit with those minerals riding herd over the components. The finish is lengthy and the tannins chewy.
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