New Blood and Old Vines
In the 1970s many young or newly arrived winemakers took up the challenge of growing, making, and marketing Zinfandel and other grape varieties that were neither expensive nor chic. Microbiologist-turned-winemaker Joel Peterson decided to make Zinfandel because he wanted to make wine the old way, the “French” way: using grapes from old vines that were dry-farmed and fermented in open-top vats. In 1976 Peterson made his first bottling of Ravenswood wine with purchased grapes and using space in a mentor’s winery. By 1991 he had earned enough from his highly acclaimed wines to build his own winery in Sonoma.