First Vintage: Green & Red Zinfandel

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Distinctive Mountain Vineyards + The Chez Panisse Connection

Located in the hills of the Vaca Mountain Range along the eastern edge of Napa Valley, Green & Red Vineyard gets its name from the oceanic red chert based soils and veins of green serpentine running through the property. The land, once known as Rancho Catacula, was purchased in 1969 by Green & Red’s founder Jay Heminway, a Berkeley artist and sculpture instructor with an interest in wine. Over the ensuing years, the property was planted to three distinct vineyards based on elevation and soil type. First was the Chiles Mill Vineyard, named after the historic Chiles Grist Mill — the first flour mill in Northern California. Next was Catacula, named after the property’s original vineyard. Finally, Jay planted Tip Top Vineyard at the very top of this mountainside property, with views of central Napa Valley, Saint Helena, and Chiles Valley extending into the distance.

Not only has Green & Red produced exceptional wines under their own label since 1977, they have also produced the house wine at Chez Panisse for over thirty-five years. When given the chance to produce a small bottling of zinfandel from this beautiful mountain vineyard, we jumped at the chance. For our first vintage, we sourced from two of Green & Red’s vineyards: Tip Top, which sits at 1800-2000ft and the lower Chiles Mill, at 800-1000ft.

Early Champions of Single Vineyard Zinfandel

Head Winemaker John Olney looks back on his first experience with Green & Red:

“In the 1960s RIDGE became one of the first wineries to champion zinfandel from unique single vineyards. Shortly thereafter, when Jay Heminway purchased a few acres of land in the hills overlooking the Napa Valley, he took this dedication to another level. Few are the California wines planted, farmed, and produced by the same person. Green & Red is one of these rarities. When I first moved to California, I was a regular at Chez Panisse, where Green & Red has been the house wine for decades, and it was there that I first tasted Green & Red. The purity of fruit and intensity of flavors immediately stood out and was one of the wines that inspired me to take zinfandel seriously. It is a pleasure to now be able to work with this very special vineyard.”

“The purity of fruit and intensity of flavors immediately stood out and was one of the wines that inspired me to take zinfandel seriously.”

-Head Winemaker John Olney

A Mutual Interest in Art & Wine

Lytton Springs Winemaker Shauna Rosenblum talks about her first visit to Green & Red and her shared artistic background with founder Jay Heminway:

“When I learned that I would have the opportunity to work with fruit from the Green & Red vineyard, I was excited on many levels. I have always enjoyed the Green & Red wines at various tastings, and of course as the house wine at Chez Panisse.

“I knew Jay was a sculptor because I also have a background in fine art. My undergraduate degree is in ceramics from California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and my Master’s degree is in sculpture from San Francisco Art Institute. Jay was a sculpture professor at UC Berkeley, and he knew and/or taught the people from whom I learned my craft. Peter Volkous, Viola Frey, Richard Diebenkorn, Arthur Gonazalez. Thus, there was already a familiar feeling around the Heminway family and our mutual interests in art and wine. I consider wine to be an artistic medium, and I think any artist who makes wine probably feels that too.

“Visiting Green & Red vineyard for the first time, I got chills coming up the driveway and seeing the artistic metal gate at the entrance. I immediately understood that this entire mountain vineyard was Jay’s opus. This place took a lifetime to build, and it is sculpted with such intention. The deeply carved terraces are guided by the mountain’s meanderings, such that one can get lost sampling grapes.

“The fruit from Green & Red is quite unique. It is mountain zinfandel, so there are savory notes that simply are not present in most zinfandel. This fruit is grown at high elevation in oceanic red chert-based soils with veins of green serpentine running throughout the property.”

2022: Our First Vintage from Green & Red

Vintage Notes:

In 2022, we picked the Tip Top vineyard first and fermented it on native yeast in an open top tank with two pumpovers daily. Eleven days later, we picked the lower Chiles Mill vineyard, which included a bit of petite sirah that was co-fermented. This lot was also fermented on native yeast in an open top tank with two pumpovers daily. These fermentations took time to complete, thus they benefitted from extended time on the skins, which imparted a deep flavor to the wine. We can’t wait to share this beauty with the world.

Winemaker Tasting Notes:

A combination of power and elegance. Nose of black cherry, raspberry and garrigue. Full bodied with an excellent balance of tannins and acidity. Flavor profile confirms the aromatics plus hints of bramble and dark chocolate. SR (12/23)

Limited Bottling for Z List Members

Our first vintage of Green & Red Zinfandel is being released exclusively to members of our Z List wine club in the spring of 2024. Become a Z List member and be among the first to try it!


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