Santa Rita Inn’s Vineyards and Estate Wines
The character of a red wine made from the zinfandel grape is determined not only by the style in which it is vinified, but also by the region in which it is grown. While the finest zinfandels issue from warmer growing regions, such as Paso Robles, other factors, such as soil type, sun exposure, rootstock, clonal selection, pruning practices, and crop yield also play an important role in determining a zinfandel’s quality and personality.
at the Santa Rita Inn, hillside vineyards, old vines,
a warm climate, decomposed granite soils, and perennially low yields combine to produce weighty, concentrated zinfandels with ripe berry flavors and a pronounced earthy/spicy character.
Our zinfandels are wonderful accompaniments the heartiest of foods, such as tomato-based pastas, grilled lamb, and spicy sausages.
The Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet — that magic word is one of the first that wine neophytes learn to pronounce. It immediately conjures up those hedonistic aromas of blackcurrants, cedar, truffles and plums and for most of the world it points to the great wines of the Médoc and Graves, where it represents 52 percent of grapes planted.
One of the keys to Cabernet’s success in Paso Robles is that it has always been prized for its resistance.
Many etymologists believe that Cabernet relates to the Biturica grape that the Roman poet Pliny recorded in the year 71 A.D. as being planted in Bordeaux because of its hardiness. It is certain that Cabernet’s first sighting in more recent history was in the 18th Century when Baron de Brane, owner of Château Mouton, pulled up many of his white grapes and replaced them with the black variety, Vidure (from the words Vigne Dure or hardy vine). Today Cabernet is still sometimes referred to as Vidure in the Graves. Yet Cabernet’s true recognition as the great grape variety of Bordeaux only came towards the end of the 19th Century when, after the ravages of phylloxera and oidium, it was widely planted.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a brash, vigorous vine that grows easily in a variety of different soils all over the world. It survives cold winters and buds late. However it does need dry, well-drained soils and lots of sunshine to ripen properly. This explains why the soils of Paso Robles is its perfect environment.
The key to producing good quality Cabernet is to control its growth. It grows extremely easily, producing lots of leaves and shoots, and therefore needs to be pruned quite severely and hedged during the summer months. Cabernet produces small, round berries that are thick skinned and blue tinged. This can be crucial at the end of the growing season when rain can risk piercing and rotting the grapes and diluting the juice. Its thick skin also means the variety is not attacked by insects. In the past, the disadvantage of Cabernet Sauvignon was its relatively low yields. Yet today, in our search for quality, this characteristic has become more of a virtue.