7th generation farmers, the Mauritson family have been working these vineyards since 1868, finally releasing their own wines in 1998. The winery is now under the stewardship of former University of Oregon football player, Clay Mauritson, who grew up working the vineyards with his father before cutting his teeth at Kenwood Vineyards. Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon specialists, Mauritson Wines is located at the corner of Dry Creek Valley and Lytton Springs Road, hallowed ground for Zinfandel, in particular. The vast majority of the Mauritson grapes are sold to premium producers throughout Sonoma County.
Dry Creek Valley is an AVA in Sonoma County, covering land just northwest of Healdsburg. It is considered to be one of the best terroirs in California for the Zinfandel grape variety, which is planted along the hillsides above the eponymous creek. Dry Creek Valley’s climate is influenced by the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the south, although this is limited somewhat by the surrounding mountains. Warm days, protected from cool coastal breezes by the mountains, are tempered by afternoon southerlies that bring Sonoma’s famous fog into the valley. At night, cold air seeps through the mountains into the vineyards, bringing the temperature down considerably. This diurnal temperature variation has long been considered a boon for winemakers, as it slows the ripening process, ensuring grapes develop balanced acidity as they ripen. Dry Creek’s soils are diverse and complex, with considerable differences between the terroir on the hillsides and those on the valley floor. Rocky, gravelly soils that are rich in iron stretch up into the hills, providing a free-draining base for the vines. These dry soils, known as Dry Creek conglomerate, are perfect for the rot-prone Zinfandel, as it can dig its roots deep into the subsoil in search of hydration without threat of disease.
The 2019 Dry Creek Zinfandel is a blend of fruit from both estate-grown and grower vineyards. Mauritson has worked closely with growers throughout Dry Creek AVA for several generation. Prior to the early 1990s, Mauritson were themselves growers for some of the most iconic wineries in California. This allowed them to build long standing relationships and they continue to work with these growers throughout the AVA.
Zinfandel is a dark-skinned red wine grape variety widely cultivated in California. It arrived in the Americas from Europe in the early years of the 19th Century and was an immediate success in both Napa and Sonoma counties, which remain its strongholds today. After 30 years of discussion and disagreement (including legal intervention by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), DNA research carried out by Carole Meredith of the University of California at Davis from the early 1990s to 2002 (known as the Zinquest) confirmed that Zinfandel is identical to Italy’s Primitivo.
Hand-harvested fruit from fully phenolically ripe grapes. The grapes were crushed and fermented in steel before spending 14 months in French oak barrels for aging.
Explosive aromas of blackberries, cassis and ripe cherry with a whiff of vanilla. Mouth-filling and rich on the palate, the fruit replays are interwoven with spice box and cocoa. There is a hint of herbaceousness, almost like red pepper in the background, with solid tannic structure and a decent amount of acidity to keep the weight balanced.