The Juicy Stuff
Old Vine Zinfandel
Why do we use the Term “Old Vine Zinfandel” ?
The term “old vine Zinfandel” is a way to showcase the quality of grapes sourced, much like the vintage or AVA. At BACA, we strive to source from family-owned, heritage vines, and want to share that with our fans!
How Old Does the Zinfandel Vine Have To Be?
The accepted standard is 50 years or older. This number is agreed upon by notable organizations like The Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley and The Historic Vineyard Society. The Historic Vineyard Society holds old vine Zinfandel to an even higher standard, requiring that the grapes are also sourced from a currently producing California wine vineyard, and at least ⅓ of the existing producing vines can be traced back to their original planting date.
This standard is not mandatory or enforced, so you will sometimes find wines that are made from younger vines using the term “old vine Zinfandel”.
What makes Old Vine Zinfandel Unique?
Most people in the wine world believe that old vines make better wine than new vines. As a Zinfandel vine ages, it cultivates deep roots and produces less grape bunches. This creates a more intense flavor profile (think crushed cherry, blackberry, raspberry preserves, and blood orange). These old Zinfandel vines also have thinner leaves - which lets the grapes absorb more sunlight.
The end result is a wine that has soft, concentrated fruit and tannin with a good amount of acidity (some call that a “well-balanced” wine). An old vine will produce a very different wine than it would have been able to produce in its younger years. We like to think of it as the vine perfecting its craft as it gets experience, just like a winemaker!
Does BACA Wines Produce Old Vine Zinfandel?
Absolutely! BACA specializes in artisanal Zinfandel, and we source from many old vine Zinfandel vineyards. If you are already a huge fan of old vine Zinfandel, or would like to try it for the first time, we recommend any of these BACA wines:
- Tug O' War – Sourced from the Maffei Vineyard in Russian River Valley, which was planted between 1928 and 1942. Our 2020 vintage was awarded 95 points from Wine Enthusiast, Virginie Boone!
- Bleachers – Sourced from Rudy’s Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, which are about 70 years old.
- Home Base – A Mixture of Rudy’s Vineyard’s old vines and their 40-year-old vineyard.
- Somersault – Sourced from the Pacini Vineyard in Mendocino county, these vines are over 100 years old!
Get to know our Tasting Room Manager, Peter Oakes
Peter joined the BACA team in May of 2022, and since then has been an integral part of the BACA hospitality we all know and love.
Peter, How long have you worked in the wine and food industry?
I’ve been in the food & wine industry for over 20 years! I graduated from Johnson & Wales University with my Bachelor of Science in Food Service and have been lucky to grow and gain knowledge within the adult beverage industry since then. My certifications include WSET 3, a CMS 2, and a Cicerone.
What drew you to the wine industry specifically?
I was lucky to have great influences early on that drove me towards the wine industry. My childhood mentor was a huge lover of German wine, and his introduction and early education of the wine industry put me down this path.
Are you from the Sonoma County area originally?
No, I’m the east coaster of the BACA Brand. I grew up in Northern Connecticut.
Do you have a favorite BACA wine?
My favorite at the moment is our Stargazing Marsanne – Roussanne blend. I enjoy this wine because it is so different from the rest of our BACA & HALL family wines. Outside of California, the Rhone is my favorite wine region, and this is where Marsanne and Roussanne are originally from.
What is your favorite food pairing you’ve made with BACA wine?
My go-to food pairing as of late has been the 2018 Double Dutch and a grilled pork tenderloin.
Here’s a fun question - If you were a grape varietal, which one would you be?
If I was a grape I would be Malbec. Originally from somewhere great but made even better in a new location. Bold, very approachable, and goes great with BBQ. Just like me.
Since fun and games is an important theme for BACA, do you have a favorite game?
My favorite game growing up was capture the flag. Playing with two large groups in the woods was how we would spend our Friday nights after school. It definitely brings back fond childhood memories.
How to properly open a bottle of wine using a corkscrew
There are several different ways to open a bottle of wine, but the tried and true method is the traditional double hinged corkscrew (also known as a wine key). Many people avoid using a corkscrew, and opt for an alternative like a battery-powered corkscrew or wing corkscrew thinking it is easier. But the traditional double hinged corkscrew is the best way to open a bottle, and with this type of corkscrew you are much less likely to break the cork (which you definitely want to avoid).
Here is a step by step guide on how to properly use a corkscrew, so that you can feel confident next time you open a bottle.
Step one: Remove the Foil
Every corkscrew should have a foil cutter, which looks like a small knife, tucked into the side.
Rest the corkscrew’s foil cutter blade just below the lip of the bottle
Move the bottle a full 360 degrees while applying pressure, cutting the foil in one motion
Step two: Line up the “worm” of the corkscrew with the center of the cork, pushing the tip of the corkscrew into the cork.
Step three: Twist until the corkscrew is about three-quarters of the way into the cork, or until there is one loop of the corkscrew’s worm still visible.
Step four: Lever the cork out.
You may need two hands for this step (one to put pressure on the handle and one to hold the leverage hinge in place).
Rest the corkscrew’s lever hinge (the metal arm) onto the lip of the bottle.
From here, you’ll pull up on the handle and at the same time push down on the leverage hinge.
Don’t be afraid to wiggle the corkscrew a little bit if the cork feels tight!
Step five: Gently pull the rest of the cork out.
Step six: pour and enjoy your wine!
If you do break the cork in half, it’s usually an easy fix. Simply try these steps over again, inserting the corkscrew’s worm into the cork left behind in the bottle. Slowly, gently, and steadily pull the corkscrew with the intact cork out of the bottle.
If you want to avoid using a corkscrew altogether, there is always our BACA Ring around the Rose canned rose. which is not only easy to open but also recently received a 90 point rating!
We are using concrete tanks for a portion of our wines! Concrete tanks have been used consistently in Europe for hundreds of years and they are growing popular in high-end Californian winemaking.
The benefit to red wine is that the concrete maintains a naturally stable fermentation temperature. These gradual fermantations bring roundness and a sense of weight to the wines; there's freshness, ther's nuance, and a real purity of fruit that is expressive of the vineyard site. We are currently fine tuning which blocks and which vineyard sites work best in concrete.
We Invite You to Our New Home in Healdsburg
Tucked away in the northern part of Sonoma County is one of wine country’s best kept secrets – Healdsburg. Coming from far and wide to visit the region’s tourist attractions and tasting rooms, visitors are drawn to Healdsburg’s sense of character and authenticity. Continuously awarded as one of the top 10 small towns in America, Healdsburg is a Northern California oasis. Full of artisan restaurants, boutiques and, of course, incredible wine, Healdsburg is quickly being added to every wine aficionado’s travel bucket list.
We’re so excited to call Healdsburg home, just in time for the holiday season. Our new tasting room and vineyard includes a hand-crafted bar adorned with modern art, and a large patio for a variety of tasting experiences. The tasting room is co-branded with our partner WALT Wines.
“We believe that wine is best enjoyed with friends – especially during the holidays. We always want to remember that, while BACA’s wine is seriously delicious, we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” shares Jennifer Brown. “Wine and games are two things with the ability to bring people together, and we are so excited to now be able to showcase both at our new tasting room. We would love to see you all this winter, whether that means in person or on your holiday tables.”
Introducing Our First Rosé!
We have just announced the launch of our newest wine, 2018 BACA Ring Around the Rosé, a Rosé of Zinfandel. The Rosé was released on May 24, just in time for summer.
“We believe the bright fruit flavors and crisp acidity make this debut vintage for our Rosé of Zinfandel particularly exciting and fun,” said Jennifer Brown. “Alison and I are excited to introduce something very special that combines freshness and quality in a can – perfect to take to the beach or on a hike.”
The BACA Rosé of Zinfandel offers balanced character and a purity of flavor that celebrates attention to detail. The crisp acidity and bright fruit for the debut vintage delivers a translucent watermelon hue, vibrant flavors of hibiscus, strawberries and kiwi fruit. Fruit for the 2018 BACA Ring Around the Rosé is sourced from California and is gently whole-cluster pressed, yielding vibrant pink juice. Small batch fermentations took place in neutral French oak barrels for seven months until dry, resulting in a bright, energized style.
“There’s an emerging niche for well-made, small-batch canned wine. At BACA, we’re taking this contemporary approach with a fresh, dry, playful Rosé – in cans. This is truly new for the industry and we’re excited to be part of it.” –Alison Frichtl Hollister
The current BACA wine portfolio includes five 2017 Zinfandel wines including Cat’s Cradle (Rockpile AVA), Tug O’ War (Maffei Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA), I Spy (Black Sears Vineyard, Howell Mountain AVA), Double Dutch (Dusi Vineyard, Paso Robles AVA) and Marbles (Pocai Vineyard, Calistoga AVA).
We’re 1 Year Old!
It’s 9:07 a.m. on Monday, May 6, and BACA Director Jennifer Brown and Winemaker Alison Frichtl Hollister are brainstorming, just as they do each week about all things BACA. Jennifer and Alison collaborate on every step of the winemaking and brand process. In just one year, we have made our mark on the Zin world by introducing a small portfolio of wines that are nuanced, balanced and opulent, but are centered around a sense of adventure.
Our second vintage is being released this summer along with our fifth Zinfandel plus a Rosé of Zinfandel in canned format. “One year ago, we set out to do something different, unique and fun with BACA. We introduced four incredible 2016 Zinfandel wines sourced from the best California Zinfandel regions, expanded our in-house staff, and hosted numerous consumer and community events. Now we are excited to announce the opening of our new tasting room this summer.” says Jennifer.
Roots run deep in Jennifer’s family. Her mother, Kathryn Hall, was raised in a family of grape growers in Mendocino County. Now she, and her husband Craig Hall, own HALL, WALT and BACA Wines. Jennifer is no stranger to the industry having helped her family run a wine business from the vineyard to the sales and marketing efforts, and now she gets her shot at leading BACA.
Alison Frichtl Hollister has been on the winemaking team with HALL Family Wines for more than ten years, assisting with the luxury Cabernet portfolio as well as the launch of WALT Pinot Noir, both under the direction of one of Napa’s most notable winemakers, Steve Leveque. Alison’s fresh, new and intuitive approach to Zinfandel helped launch BACA. Our modern concept, and her artistic approach to winemaking have caught the attention of critics making her a rising star winemaker in the Zin space. Among other accolades, BACA’s 2016 Tug O’ War was named “Best of 2018” in Wine Enthusiast and received 92 points. “I want to use my winemaking to make well-produced, well-sourced wine with a direct approach that my peers will appreciate.” says Alison. “We have the resources to make really clean, contemporary wines and I have the backing to make wine that’s honest and good. I am constantly experimenting with new techniques and exchanging ideas with the greater Zin community, applying new approaches each vintage. We implement green and sustainable practices to ensure we are good stewards of the land – and because it’s the right thing to do. Every day in this industry is inspiring.” says Alison.
January 3, 2019
Women In Wine
Our Director Jennifer Brown and Winemaker Alison Frichtl Hollister came together to create wine that is nuanced, honest, current and fun. We are all about getting outside and making the most of each moment.
While we celebrate the diversity that having women leaders brings to BACA each and every day. We know that a successful company needs to have both men and women to be successful, and that having women in the forefront of a company, especially in wine country, is something really special. With far fewer than 50% of Napa Valley wineries having female winemakers, we are incredibly fortunate to have Alison as our rock-star winemaker.
Jennifer Brown leads brand development, marketing strategies, and operational plans, as well as spearheads direct-to-consumer and wholesale channels. Prior to working at HALL & WALT, Jennifer was the founder of Omghow / Girl Karma Inc., a social platform and positive destination for teen girls. “At BACA, we have women in leadership positions across all parts of the company, including myself as the Director of BACA and Alison Frichtl Hollister, as our Winemaker. Women have touched every aspect of our wine – from the women in the fields who help pick the grapes to our Creative Manager Christy Logan, who designed our wine label. We know that having women and men at our winery increases diversity of thought and creates a better product. For example, I have often thought that women taste wine differently than men do, so having both Alison and Steve Leveque, our VP of Winemaking, in the winemaking process results in better wine.” says Jennifer Brown.
Jennifer grew up in the wine industry. Some of her fondest childhood memories are skipping through her family’s Zinfandel vineyards in Redwood Valley with her brother. As a little girl, she would pick out stones from the vineyards to inspire her mother, Vintner Kathryn Hall, to choose a background for their family’s original WALT labels. “On a personal note, I grew up with a strong female role model, who showed me what it means to be a woman who knows her power. My mother, Kathryn Hall, has been a trailblazer in male-dominated industries. She was one of only a few women in her law school class; she was an ambassador to Austria, when most of her predecessors and employees were men; she is a vintner when most in the wine industry are men. I feel very proud to be a female leader and to work with so many smart, capable women and men.” says Jennifer.
We are raising our glasses to the strong women who surround us in all aspects of life.
December 18, 2018
2018 Harvest with Winemaker Alison Frichtl Hollister
Rockpile Vineyard Sonoma County
I have to admit, the first thing that comes to mind about the 2018 vintage is that it was LONG. Following a series of warm, early harvests, this years’ growing season went back to a slower rhythm. The change in tempo allowed an abundant crop of grapes to ripen gradually and develop deep flavors, just how we like it! But what’s the fun of grape-growing without a few challenges?
The Mendocino Complex fire to our north in late July was not only generally unnerving but bordered on a very special old vine vineyard we just started working with. Luckily the wind was blowing in the right direction and the still-green berries were unaffected.
October rains can wreak havoc on Zin's big, yet delicate clusters and with a later harvest there comes an increased risk. We work with growers who take personal pride in farming to the highest standards. Much of their summer and fall were spent manicuring the vine canopies to provide the grapes enough shade from the sun while also being prepared with adequate airflow to deter rot. When mother nature did throw a couple of unpredictable systems at us, I'm pleased to report that we weathered the storms!
So, we worked through fire and water and still harvested exceptional fruit! I'm excited to work with these wines as they develop.
Zinfandel Grapes Almost Ready for Harvest
Rockpile Vineyard Heavily Sloped Terroir
December 2, 2018
Get Friends Over!
Holiday Drive Party
On December 1, we kicked off our month-long giving campaign with a Holiday Drive Party. We encouraged people to get festive and wear their holiday sweaters while they enjoyed small bites, games and delicious Zinfandel.
For the month of December, all tasting fees will be donated to NEWS, an organization dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
We invite you to join us with friends and family in the BACA Lounge to raise money for a great organization.
November 12, 2018
Fall Inspired Pairings
The days are getting shorter, the weather is crisper and all we can think about is inviting our friends over for fun, games, and delicious fall meal. We've pulled together a few dishes that will pair perfectly with all four of our Zinfandels.
Spiced Fruit Mint Tarts & 2016 Tug O' War Zinfandel
The fresh, dark fruits notes like raspberry, blueberry, and pomegranate pair well with the sweet but tart flavors of the spiced fruit mint tarts.
Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Harissa & 2016 I Spy Zinfandel
I Spy's earthy notes with a pepper finish complements the roasted cauliflower with the spice from the harissa.
Roasted Duck with Baked Carrots & 2016 Cat's Cradle Zinfandel
Cat's Cradle's notes of brambly fruit, violets, and lower acidity perfectly balances with the fattiness of the roasted duck without overpowering the dish.
Cheese Platter & 2016 Double Dutch Zinfandel
Double Dutch's higher acidity and plush mouthfeel makes it a great wine to pair with cheese boards--especially manchego.
June 19, 2018
A Conversation with Director Jennifer Brown and Winemaker Alison Frichtl Hollister
What sparked your interest in the wine game?
JB: I’ve always been interested in wine, ever since I was a small child. Growing up, my parents would serve us “children’s wine” (which was grape juice in a wine bottle) at every dinner. My brother and I had our own wine glasses and felt very grown up. I just accepted it as a part of my life. I also grew up spending a lot of time in the vineyards, so I’ve always had an appreciation for the farm-to-table aspect of wine.
AFH: Moving to Oregon wine country as a teenager, labelling wine bottles and doing wine lab work during college summer breaks, set the field when I needed to find a direction for my degree in biology. At a basic level winemaking is chemistry and microbiology, but it takes someone with an ability to find beauty in the organic, chaotic part of the process. And that’s where my growing up with an eye for art just made a good synthesis.
What is the biggest challenge for you in the wine industry?
JB: I think a challenge for me is that I know a lot about our family’s wines and Napa Valley wines, but not a lot about wines from other parts of the country, and particularly the world. People assume that because I come from a winemaking family that I know a lot about wines from other places, but the truth is I have a lot to learn still. There are so many amazing wines made in other regions that I would love to explore.
AFH: It's easy to get sucked in to this world. A lot of my friends here are winemakers and we're all perfectionists when it comes to the craft. So it's important for me to take a step back every now and then, relax, and remember it's just wine!
Describe your perfect day in wine country!
JB: Sleeping in (always a good start to a day), having a hot cup of tea, and then going for a brisk walk around the vineyards, ideally before the fog has lifted. Then, going to visit a winery that I haven’t visited before and learning about another producer. Then having a lovely lunch outside somewhere with a view. My perfect afternoon would be enjoying friends with delicious wine and snacks sitting around the pool, playing bocce ball or cornhole, and letting that bleed into dinner time, with fresh vegetables from the garden, some barbequing and enjoying the great weather, the views and the company.
AFH: As I write this response I'm watching the sun rise over the rolling hills of Paso Robles with a good cup of coffee. One of the things I love about BACA is it takes me to different wine regions around California. On this trip I checked up on the vineyards I'll be harvesting this fall, enjoyed long meals with local friends, visited a winery I'd been wanting to learn more about and took a walk on the beach at sunset. You know it's perfect when it feels too short.
What is the most exciting aspect of the winemaking process?
JB: I think the most exciting aspect is that the wine reflects the growing season leading up to harvest. Unlike so many other products that are meant to be the exact same every year, wine has differences every year, so our winemakers (ahem – Alison!) have to be adaptable to whatever circumstances come their way. It always keeps things interesting and you never know what the next year will bring!
AFH: I'm fascinated by the alchemy-like transformation of fermentation. Grapes are the only fruit that can be unlocked into almost infinite aromas through this process. I look forward to discovering what nature gives us each year and preserving its beauty.
Adventure Fuels the Soul
What was your best adventure?
JB: My best adventure was a safari in Botswana. My husband Eric and I went there on our honeymoon and fell in love with the adventure of a safari. Getting up early in the morning when it is still dark, getting in a jeep, tracking footprints and markings of lions and rhinoceros. When you finally find the animals, it’s breathtaking, just sitting there watching them in their natural habitat and being a guest in their world. I felt very connected to nature.
AFH: My best adventure began with meeting my husband at an annual gathering of friends, musicians and artists on Clearlake. We traveled back and forth dating for a time between Venice Beach and Napa. Then ran away to elope in Joshua Tree, just the two of us under the desert sky. The adventure continues as we renovate the house we bought on Howell Mountain, and create our perfect space together in the Napa Valley.
What’s your favorite game?
JB: My favorite game is Celebrity. In Celebrity, everyone writes down names of Celebrities on a piece of paper and you take turns acting out the person for the group, trying to get the others to guess who you are acting out. It’s probably my favorite game because you get to do some acting (which I enjoyed growing up) as well as something that brings a group of people together. I love laughing & watching friends try to act out someone and you have no idea what celebrity they are trying to be.
AFH: To make cellar meetings more fun, once a week we open up Le Nez du Vin, at set of 54 vials representing common aromas in wine, and play guess the aroma. It's a fun way to train your sense of smell and can be surprisingly difficult. We like to get playfully competitive, like “I can't believe you thought that was strawberry!”, and it's also fun when someone nails a tough one like “honey”, which is beautifully complex.
What’s next on your travel bucket list?
JB: There are so many places that I want to explore! I would love to spend more time in Asia and go to Vietnam and Cambodia to see the beautiful beaches and temples. I also would love to climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. (I did a 7 day trek through Peru to Macchu Pichu which was an amazing experience, and would love to do another trek.)
AFH: A friend of ours bought a rustic cottage in the countryside of the Languedoc region of France and has opened its doors as an artist’s retreat. The area has also been attracting a new generation of creative winemakers recently, so I'd like to explore what they're doing. And of course dip down to the Mediterranean!
Looking ahead at the next 12 months, what are you most looking forward to?
JB: I am really looking forward to a trip that I’m going on with some folks from the winery to France. We are going to Burgundy and Champagne to learn from great French wine makers and producers. I’m also looking forward to a big change in my own personal life. My husband and I are expecting our first baby in September – and I’m very excited to learn how to be a good mother. Luckily, I’ve had an amazing role model.
AFH: This month's trip to France with Jen and the gang! And I'm going to nerd out and admit I'm excited to ferment Zin in concrete tanks this year. They're so elegant and are coming all the way from Italy.
Can't Live Without
What’s your favorite dish?
JB: I love dishes with curry, whether they are Indian, Thai or really any origin. When I was in the Seychelles, I had the best Creole Curry with vegetables and coconut rice.
AFH: Chana Masaladar with Raita is my ultimate comfort food. My mom introduced me to the recipes of Madhur Jaffrey when I was growing up and I still love cooking this one. I cook her recipes so often I can identify all of the Indian spices blindfolded!
What’s your favorite snack food?
JB: Popcorn. I love the sound it makes when it’s cooking, and it’s so delicious. I also love fruit that’s in season. Right now, I’m addicted to cherries and peaches.
AFH: I look forward to pan fried padrón peppers in the summer. Mostly they're not spicy, but it's a thrill knowing every so often you'll get one that's almost too hot to eat!
What’s a movie you could watch again and again?
JB: To my husband’s chagrin, probably any romantic comedy. I love watching movies that make me smile and feel happy, like “The Holiday” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” Of course I also enjoy more serious films with stronger plot lines and character development, but for me a simple enjoyable romantic comedy hits the spot most evenings.
AFH: Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love is gorgeous. And if I'm being really honest, Pulp Fiction. I love movies.
What’s the most influential book you’ve read?
JB: I don’t know if it’s the most influential, but I think about a book a lot that I read a few years back called “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart. It’s set in a dystopian future dominated by social media. It takes a comical approach to looking at how the world could be if we took some current trends to an extreme. It’s a little dark but also funny. Another influential book that I have read is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It’s a classic self-help book, but it has very helpful frameworks for how to craft the life that you want to live.
AFH: I'm slowly working my way through Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. The way he uses language completely rewires how I think. Also, driving through the Salinas Valley on my trip to Paso I'm reminded of John Steinbeck's East of Eden - a powerful story of early California and settling in this stunning agricultural region.
If you could put together a summer playlist, what would the top 5 songs be?
JB: I think summer is all about easy breezy listening, so…Trojans by Atlas Genius, Paradise Waiting by Vacationer, My Type by Saint Motel, Float by Pacific Air, Delicate by Taylor Swift (Gotta have Taylor Swift!)
AFH: I think in terms of Spotify artist radio stations now, and my top summer 5 are: King Tubby, Dengue Fever, Beck, Lou Reed, and Rokia Traoré
What is your creative outlet?
JB: I really need to get one! I love being creative but I don’t “create” art or things of beauty as much as I would like. My favorite thing to do is go hiking and I do a lot of my creative thinking while hiking. I feel very inspired by nature – the trees, the ocean and animals.
AFH: I grew up in a creative household and I’ve always viewed the world through an artistic eye. Drawing is an immediate outlet I take with me everywhere, just a pen and a notebook. I also love to get absorbed in making reduction prints, a process that involves carving a multicolored image from one block. It requires careful planning for each color layer of ink because the block itself is destroyed in the process, which also means the number of copies is finite.