TN: Lunch w/ JoelPeterson @ Bedrock..(long/boring)

Lunch w/ JoelPeterson @ Bedrock (6/14)

I’ve followed JoelPeterson from (before) the very start. I first met him on a visit to JoeSwan in the
early-mid '70’s. There was a guy in the back topping up some barrels & Joe introduced us briefly. He was
just a cellar worker and the name didn’t register w/ me. Then, again in '75, I was visiting PhilReich at
a wine shop he ran in the Financial District of TheCite and Joel was there. Phil introduced us and related
that Joel would be opening a winery (Ravenswood) specializing in Zinfandel. I asked Joel if he would put
me on his e-mail list & he gave me this puzzled look…“What’s e-mail???” I was gonna whip out my iPhone
& show him…but I’d left it in the car, alas. Since then, over the yrs, we’ve crossed paths any number
of times at various events.
When Joel had started up his latest venture, Once & Future Wine, I, of course, immediately signed
on-board. Since I hadn’t seen him in a number of yrs, I suggested we get together for lunch on this trip.
Fortunately, he was in town on this day, so we agreed to meet. Just afore I departed, Joel volunteered to
make us lunch, taste a few wines, walk a bit of Bedrock, and catch up aside the lake on the Bedrock vnyd.
As we pulled into the vnyd, a lady came out of her office, greeted us, and told us she’d let Joel
know we’d arrived. When he pulled up & got out, he introduced us to “Diane”, the lady who farms Bedrock and
owns SunbreakVnydServices, that operates out of the Bedrock vnyd. I asked the last name and she said
Diane Kenworthy. “Holy $hit…I know you”. I had visited her Dad, John Kenworthy, at his wnry in the
ShenandoahVlly around 1980 and saw her there. Talk about a small world.
When Constellation bought Ravenswood in 2001, they also bought the entire Ravenswood wine library.
It was eventually moved to their larger facility outside Sonoma to make space. Again, running out
of space, Constellation moved it to their facility in Lodi. Again, deciding the Ravenswood library
was wasting perfectly good space, they decided to free up the space by sending all these “old” wines
off to the crusher. Catching wind of this, Joel asked them how much that bonehead move would cost
Constellation and that he’d match that price, plus pick up the wines himself. So he came to acquire
several hundred cases of old Ravenswoods and has slowly been working his way thru this stash. Since
I’d followed Ravenswood from the very start, he thought I might enjoy tasting some of these oldies.
Before sitting down to taste, we took a short walk around Bedrock vnyd. Of particular interest to me
was this small experimental block of vines. One of the grapes they have planted is Mollard. This is
a grape indigenous to the HautAlpes, thought to come from GouaisBlanc, mistakingly referenced as another
name for Carignane in one source. It had pretty much died out after phylloxera. Marc Allemand and
ENTAV are making an effort to revive the grape. Another grape is Castets, a variety from the SW of
France that is nearly extinct there. Apparently it was once grown in Bdx as well. This experimental
block, right down next to HookerCreek, is being farmed quite differently. Instead of tilling the cover
crop back into the soil, the crop is merely knocked back/bent over. Joel relates that this method
preserves more of the organic material for the soil. Not quite sure how the organic material is returned
to the soil using this technique, though.

So, sitting next to the Bedrock “lake” (a pond w/ scum so thick that the birds could walk on it), we tried:

  1. Ravenswood Zin OldHillRanch 1991: Dark color w/ light bricking; rather cedary/pencilly/oldZin some
    smokey/oak light berry/blackberry some dusty/OV rather complex nose; tart/tangy/metallic fairly cedary/
    pencilly/oldZin light blackberry/Zin flavor w/ light drying tannins; lots of oldZin character and
    still offers some pleasure, not totally shot, but still hanging in there.

  1. Ravenswood Zin OldHillRanch 1992: Much the same nose w/ more fragrant blackberry/boysenberry/Zin more
    spicy complex nose; same cedary/pencilly/oldZin more blackberry/Zin/briary some dusty/OV flavor w/ light
    bit smoother tannins; in a bit better shape than the '91 and offers up much pleasure but on its way

  1. Ravenswood Zin OldHillRanch 1993: Dark color w/ some bricking; same cedary/pencilly/oldZin some funky/
    wet wool/wet army blanket nose; rather cedary/pencilly slight blackberry/Zin/fruit bit funky/wet wool
    flavor; softer/smoother on the palate; seems a bit more tired than the first two.

  1. Bedrock Cuvee Karatas (65% MonteRosseSemillon/35% SauvBlanc) 2015: Med.yellow color; quite fragrant/
    perfumed strong figgy/Semillon/graham cracker slight stony/earthy lovely nose; lightly tart fairly
    rich/lush balanced strong figgy/Semillon/graham cracker light floral/herbal/SB light stony slight
    waxy flavor; a very attractive rendition of Calif Semillon.

  1. Once & Future Mourvedre OakleyRoadVnyd (barrel sample) 2015: Med.light color; beautiful smokey plummy
    earthy/mushroomy/ContraCosta smoked hot dog very interesting nose; soft/lush smokey/plummy/Mourv
    rather earthy/CCCnty flavor w/ light soft/ripe tannins; an absolutely delicious expression of CC Mourv.

  1. Bedrock Sherman’s Gold Zin EsolaVnyd/Amador (barrel sample; 14.2%) 2015: Med.dark color; bright
    spicy/berry/briary/bramble blackberry/Zin slight earthy lovely nose; soft strong briary/brambly/
    blackberry/Zin/boysenberry fairly bright flavor w/ modest ripe/smooth tannins; quite an attractive
    expression of Amador Zin w/o the overripe/jammy character they can often displey.

  1. Once & Future Zin BedrockVnyd 2014: Dark color; strong blackberry/Zin/boysenberry quite dusty/OV
    very spicy very fragrant nose; lightly tart rich/structured quite dusty/OV strong very spicy/blackberry/
    Zin some dusty/OV rather complex flavor w/ modest ripe/smooth tannins; very well-structured and built
    for the long haul.

  1. Once & Future PetiteSirah PalisadesVnyd (14.01%) 2014: Very dark color; very strong blackberry/peppery/
    PS/ripe/plummy light earthy big fruit nose; bit soft full/rich/lush strong blackberry/boysenberry/
    peppery quite structured light earthy/dusty/OV flavor w/ ample soft/ripe tannins; loads of PS fruit
    w/o the soft/fleshy character Palisades PS often shows; reminds some of the JacobFranklin PS w/o the oak;
    big/structured PS yet avoids any over-the-top character.

  1. Ravenswood Zin 1976-2016 SonomaCnty (Teldschi & OldHill vnyds) 2014: Very dark color; very intense Zin/
    blackberry/very spicy/stevie stacionisboysenberry light toasty/oak quite dusty/OV light briary/bramble beautiful
    some complex nose; lightly tart rich/ripe very strong blackberry/boysenberry/Zin/very spicy quite
    dusty/OV light toasty/oak quite structured complex flavor; a bit old-timey Ravenswood that should
    age for many yrs; of the quality of any OldHill.

  1. Ravenswood Zin DickersonVnyd/NapaVlly (14.9%) 2013: Very dark color; strong bright raspberry/blackberry/
    Zin/spicy light toasty/oak lush/bright fragrant nose; lightly tart bright/very spicy/raspberry/Zin/
    blackberry light toasty/oak slight earthy flavor w/ modest smooth tannins; more bright fruit and
    high-toned character than the OldHill and none of the eucalyptus that used to dominate Dickerson;
    not quite the structure of OldHill but still should age well.

  1. Ravenswood Zin OldHillRanch/SonomaVlly (14.2%) 2013: Very dark color; very strong/intense blackberry/
    boysenberry/Zin/very spicy quite perfumed rather dusty/OV light oak lovely complex nose; lightly tart
    very structured/rich very strong blackberry/Zin/boysenberry/ripe rather dusty/OV complex flavor;
    a very classic OldHill that should easily go out 10-15 yrs.

And a wee BloodyPulpit:

  1. Once&Future: Though I’d ordered Joel’s '14 release, I’ve not yet received them. So this was my first
    test drive w/ O&F. I was impressed. They reminded me a lot of his early Ravenswood wines, but w/
    not as much oak as those had. The wines are well-crafted and have the structure his Ravenswood wines
    always showed. Not quite as rich & fleshy as the Bedrock reds.

  1. Ravenswood: The 1976-2016 is an unreleased Ravenswood to celebrate the 40’th anniv of Ravenswood.
    When Constellation bought out Ravenswood, there were a lot of ChickenLittle Ravenswood fans running
    around to avoid the sky falling on them. Thus far, I’ve not seen any evidence of that happening.
    Joel had agreed to stay on at Ravenswood as “winemaker”. A gather he no longer serves on the BoD
    of Constellation, but he continues as “winemaker” at Ravenswood. The “” are to indicate that he
    continues to have the final say-so on the vnyd-designate Ravenswood Zins, though I doubt that he’s
    there much hauling hose and pumping tanks, those wines are still his babies. Constellation has
    considerably expanded Ravenswood at the bottom end. I’m pretty sure that Joel doesn’t have a
    lot of input into the Ravenswood VintnersBlend and County designates. And I didn’t ask to inspect
    his time-card w/ Constellation. But from my tastings, I’ve not seen any decline in the top-tier
    wines at Ravenswood.

  1. I should mention that the lunch Joel prepared was absolutely delicious…a simple roast chicken &
    various accompaniments. MFK Fisher would have been proud. A great way to blow thru an afternoon.

Then, > again in '75> , I was visiting PhilReich at
a wine shop he ran in the Financial District of TheCite and Joel was there. Phil introduced us and related
that Joel would be opening a winery (Ravenswood) specializing in Zinfandel. I asked Joel if he would put
me on his > e-mail > list & he gave me this puzzled look…“What’s e-mail???” I was gonna whip out my > iPhone

You were one progressive dude!

Wonderful write-up, by the way. I’ve had some excellent Ravensood SVDs over the years.

Yup…always well ahead of my time, Robert!! [snort.gif]

Great notes. Thanks Tom. Good to see insights on upcoming Once & Future wines.

Yes, thanks for the notes, Tom. Thank, in particular, for adding this descriptor to our vocabulary: “ContraCosta smoked hot dog.”

How is that different from, say, a Coney Island smoked hotdog? More brush fire notes?

Well done Tom - great notes!

Thanks for the notes. Was curious when I should open one of the Once & Future bottling’s? I have the Palisades and Bedrock in cellar and notes sound good, but also sounds like they are structured and need some time?

Tom didn’t mention that the car he’d left the iPhone in was a Delorean. It was fitted with a flux capacitor he’d borrowed from the Los Alamos lab.

Nice recounting of history and interesting notes. Thanks.

Hey Tom- Great write up and sorry to miss what clearly was a great meeting of the minds! Just a note, the 2015 Esola Vineyard was a Bedrock Wine Co. bbl sample of the 2015 Esola Zin that was offered on the latest release.

Glad you got to taste through some of the older Ravenswoods- so many of them are showing well. Go figure, my pop knows what he is doing!

Last month my brother and I shared a 1982 Dickerson that showed up at K&L for $29.99 several months ago. My expectations were low and when it poured out with a very light color and pretty powerful funk they went lower. Then it blew us away. The funk blew off and it was all light and pretty with sweet fruit. We drank it with the 2014 O&F Zin which is much more powerful but good in its own way.

Constellation was going to destroy all of the Ravenswood library wines?!? Such an incredibly stupid decision is really shocking. I know they’re a huge company, but they have some extremely knowledgeable people working for them, who apparently were not consulted regarding that move. I’m glad it didn’t happen.

Thanks for sharing … excited to hear there will be a Once & Future Mourvedre!

Thanks, Morgan. Corrected. Your Dad had already flagged that mistake to me.


I somehow missed this post, and I thought it would be a shame if anyone else did as well…