Showing posts with label Sutter Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sutter Home. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Drake Moscato

A recent article in The Wine Economist explored a question that's always on the minds of those interested in wine - what's the next big thing?  Figures cited in the story - taken from another article in Wine Business Monthly - show that sales of Moscato wines increased by about 91% during 2010, when overall wines sales only grew by just under five percent.

The Wine Economist speculated that some White Zinfandel drinkers may be moving over to Moscato, as sales of White Zin have fallen off a bit.  The originator of White Zinfandel - Sutter Home - produces a Moscato Alexandria, while the article also cites Moscato entries from Robert Mondavi WoodbridgeBarefoot CellarsColumbia Crest and other wineries.

In the comments to the article, a reader suggested much of Mocasto's newfound popularity may be due to hip-hop artist Drake, who sang about the grape variety in his 2009 single called "Do It Now," in which he raps for "lobster, shrimp and a glass of Moscato."

Popular culture has certainly affected the wine industry before.  Rapper Jay-Z put an obscure Champagne by the name of Armand de Brignac on the map when he featured it in his 2006 video for the song, "Show Me What You Got."  Now, reportedly, the French producer can't make enough of it. 

The 2004 film "Sideways" was credited - or blamed - for ruining the market for Merlot.  One of the movie's characters had a decided bias against that particular grape, preferring Pinot Noir.  Sales of Pinot Noir went up in the "Sideways" aftermath.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Birth Of White Zinfandel At Sutter Home

A recent post on a wine blog well worth checking out - Dr. Vino - dealt with the story behind the birth of one of the most popular White Zinfandels, that of Sutter Home Winery.

The Napa Valley winery dates back to the late 1800s, and was resurrected by the Trinchero family in 1948.  They struggled along for a number of years, until Bob Trinchero - quite by accident - made what he termed a White Zinfandel.  He did this by bleeding off some of the juice to try and make his Zinfandel wine more concentrated.

Dr. Vino quotes Mr. Trinchero at length from an oral history at the University of California's Bancroft Library.  He says the happy accident occurred in 1972, and White Zin really started to take off in the mid '70s.  At that time he was producing about 400 cases of the pink wine.

Dr. Vino concludes the post with the success story: Sutter Home's output of White Zinfandel grew and became more popular.  By 1985 they were selling a million and a half cases, by 1990 they moved 3 million cases of their White Zinfandel.

Sutter Home also has a little video of the story of White Zinfandel on their website.

By the way, if you pooh-pooh White Zinfandel while ruminating over your old vine Zin, consider what I have been told.  Were it not for the enormous popularity of White Zin in the 1980s, many old Zinfandel vines in California might have been ripped out to make way for more commercially viable grapes. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010


White Zinfandel

Summer is well underway now, and there's one summer wine mainstay we haven't mentioned yet.

White Zinfandel, also known as blush, is usually a sweet wine, sometimes off-dry.  The pink hue of the wine looks a lot like rosé, but the wine tends to the sweeter end of the spectrum than does rosé.

White Zinfandel is produced, as one might expect, from the Zinfandel grape.  Usually a wine made from Zinfandel is a rather bold red wine.  White Zinfandel is produced by the saignée method, in which some of the juice is bled off to increase the intensity of the wine that remains with the skins of the grapes.  The wine that is bled off is a much lighter color than the red wine, hence the name.

Known as a sipping wine which often lacks the acidity required to pair well with food, White Zinfandel has taken much criticism for its fruity, punchlike tendencies.  “Serious” wine lovers think of it as little more than Kool Aid, intended for novice wine drinkers who lack the skills to recognize or appreciate the complexities of high quality wine.

In 2008 White Zinfandel accounted for about 11% of supermarket wine sales in the U.S.  In 2009 that number dropped to 8%.  

Many of those bottles of pink liquid flying off the shelves are from producers like Beringer, Sutter Home, Gallo, Baron Herzog, Woodbridge, Arbor Mist and Barefoot.  Most are cheap - under ten dollars - and found in all  supermarkets where wine is sold.

The story is told that many old-vine Zinfandel vineyards were spared from being replanted with more commercially viable grapes because of the White Zin craze of the 1970s.  So, fans of old-vine Zin may well have the much-maligned White Zinfandel wine to thank for the presence of those vines.  When the demand for Zinfandel picked up later, everybody was pretty happy they didn't rip out those 100-plus-year-old vines for Chardonnay.

I don’t intend to bash White Zinfandel nor those who love it.  I believe one should drink what one likes, and like what one drinks.  I prefer my rosé bone dry, so most White Zin is clearly not for me.  I have tried a couple - from Charles Shaw and Sutter Home - and found them to be passable wines with nothing to make them really worth seeking out, to my taste.  But, on a hot day with the sun blazing down, if you offered me a chilled White Zinfandel on the patio... I wouldn't knock the glass out of your hand.