Rockpile Ridge Zinfandel 2016

Vineyard: Mauritson Wines
Region: Sonoma


92-Robert Parker; 92-Wine Enthusiast; 91-Wine Spectator

Tasting Notes 

The nose on this vintage is explosive and complex, with aromas of fresh-baked blackberry pie, toasted almond grounds dusted with dark cocoa and the classic touches of savoury roasted herbs and sweet earth – signatures of Zinfandel from Rockpile Ridge. Full-bodied and concentrated, this wine is not shy in delivering beautifully perfumed fruit, seamlessly tied in with a plush and velvety palate.


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.


Rockpile is an AVA at the northern end of Sonoma County. Sitting at the northwestern edge of Dry Creek Valley, it covers a high ridge that sits above Lake Sonoma, providing a sunny, mountainous terroir for the area’s grapes. The terroir in Rockpile is heavily influenced by Lake Sonoma, which was created as a water reservoir in the early 1980s. The presence of the lake helps to limit the influence of fog, creating an inversion layer that draws the cooler air toward the lake’s surface, allowing warmer air to rise. The Rockpile vineyards, which sit above the 240 masl contour line, are free of the fog created by the neighbouring Pacific Ocean and, instead, experience long, sunny days. Like its closest neighbor, Dry Creek Valley, Rockpile is best known for its Zinfandel, making intensely-coloured, concentrated red wines.


The Rockpile Ridge Vineyard is located at nearly 360 metres in elevation in the Rockpile appellation. This vineyard has sweeping sun exposures from southeast to northwest and consists of nine distinctly different blocks of Zinfandel. The 2016 Rockpile Ridge is a blend of Block 5, Rockpile Ridge, Madrone Spring and Cemetery vineyards. .


Sourced from a single vineyard planted at nearly 1,200 feet in elevation. Nine distinct blocks are harvested and fermented separately to insure the integrity and uniqueness of the individual blocks. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, a combination of new and second fill.

Cellar Profile

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 v7thineyards 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. Rockpile Ridge is one of California’s newest AVAs, sitting between 800 and 2000 ft elevation and located just 13 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Hot days and very cool evenings allow for extremely long hang times. In the glass, that equates to rich phenolic ripeness alongside vibrant balancing acidity.

Wine Type: Red

Variety: 93% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah

Classification: AVA

Appellation: Sonoma County

Gradient: 360 masl

Soil: Loam, clay loam, gravel

Farming Practice: Sustainable

Alcohol: 14.5%

Malolactic: Yes

Bottle Size: 750 ml

Other Practices: Sustainable