The name conjures a tough row of dirt to farm and thats precisely the nature of this appellation! Vineyards here share one rocky ridge, an active earthquake fault and an elevation of between 800-2000 feet elevation. The little known secret to this story, though, is a unique climatic condition characterized by moderate air temperatures, low moisture and a constant breeze. The result? Tough vines producing limited yields of exceptionally concentrated fruit.
Our family's Rockpile Ridge Vineyard is located at
nearly 1,200 ft elevation in the Rockpile appellation. This vineyard has sweeping sun exposures from southeast to northwest and consists of nine distinctly different blocks of Zinfandel. The blocks are all harvested at different times
and fermented separately to insure the integrity and uniqueness of the individual blocks.
Working with the different sun exposures, soil compositions, slopes and drainages is a
winemaking dream come true and what makes our Rockpile Ridge Zinfandel so spectacular.
The 2012 vintage is very deserving of the high praises it is receiving. The growing season was
ideal with great bunch set, moderate temperatures, and no rain. While the crop was larger than a
"normal" vintage, the increased crop size did nothing to diminish the concentration and tannins.
In general, these wines are going to drink great early on and age gracefully for years to come.
On the nose, there is concentrated dark fruit which is complemented by mineral notes
and the subtleties of French oak. Fresh raspberry and baked fruit dominate the
front palate giving way to subtle flavors of rose hip and baking spice. The tannins are velvety
and broad, ushering in a generous mouth feel. The depth and structure of the
wine is indicative of the ideal growing season. The finish is prototypical of Rockpile: long and vibrant. Full bodied with balanced acidity, this wine will age gracefully for the next 7 – 10 years.
The Westphall Ridge Vineyard is located at nearly 1
,400 ft elevation in the Rockpile appellation
which is the highest in elevation of all of our sin
gle vineyard wines. This vineyard is
characterized by its western sun exposures, red vol
canic soil and steep slope. The sun exposure
provides phenolic maturity without overripe flavors
. The soil composition and extreme slope are
what really set this Zinfandel apart, continually y
ielding intense floral notes layered with an iron
The nose is a blend of high toned red fruit and earthen spice with an exotic floral component.
On the pallet, flavors of fresh raspberry and rose hip are complemented by nuances of sweet oak and white pepper. The 2012 vintage is more powerful than previous versions: the entry is round and lush with silky tannins. There is a refined elegance to this Zinfandel and it finishes with beautifully balanced acidity. Enjoy the 2012 Westphall Ridge Vineyard over the next 5-7 years.
The Jack's Cabin Zinfandel has a reputation of being the most fruit forward of the Rockpile Zins, and the 2012 does not disappoint. Dried red fruit dominates the nose and is complimented beautifully by richer flavors of chocolate and mocha. The palate is like eating a chocolate covered cherry sprinkled with the perfect touch of white pepper. For all of the ripe fruit, Jack's Cabin still exhibits the Rockpile signature of great intensity and full tannins. On the finish, the acidity is perfectly balanced, giving the wine length and making it a great accompaniment to food. Please enjoy this wine over the next 5 years.
CASES: 875 VINEYARD: Jack's Cabin PRICE: $40 (Wine Club Exclusive)
Our family's Rockpile Ridge Vineyards are located at nearly 1,200 ft elevation in the Rockpile appellation. The Cemetery block gets its name from the unusual outcropping of rock at the bottom of the vineyard that resembles giant headstones. This area of the ranch has been called the Cemetery for over 140 years. The Cemetery Vineyard straddles the Rodgers Creek Fault, one of the more active earthquake faults in Northern California, giving it amazing diversity or soil composition.
Characteristic of the incredible 2012 vintage, this is one of the finest Zinfandels we have ever
made from the Cemetery vineyard. The nose is a combination of dark fruit, minerals, hints of
toasted brioche and subtle oak. On the entry, the wine is both lush and powerful. The brooding
nature of the fruit is apparent as are the complex layers that this wine has to reveal. The 2012
vintage is one of the most balanced of the past decade. Ripe fruit and rich notes of roasted coffee are complemented by earthen minerals. The tannins are both firm and velvety, and the acid gives the wine freshness. Enjoy the 2012 Cemetery Vineyard Zinfandel over the next 7-10 years.
Located at nearly 1,300-ft in elevation at the top of the Rockpile ridgeline, Uncle's Block is part of my family's original homestead and now owned by my uncle, Chris Mauritson. This vineyard is characterized by its eastern sun exposure, volcanic soil,
steep slope and lack of water. This incredible site is one of our most stressed and it is reflected in the wine.
As amazing as the 2012 vintage was, it's hard to believe that the 2013 could live up to it, let alone surpass it -- but it has! 2013 may be the best vintage to date for Zinfandel from Rockpile, and that is saying a lot. The vintage conditions were nearly perfect: Warmer than average temperatures combined with lower crop yields to produce wines with amazing focus, silky tannins and great balance.
The nose is a combination of fresh raspberry, sweet oak and earthen spice. On the entry impression the wine is lush and full, showing seamless tannins. Succinct red fruit is accented by more complex flavors of mineral and saddle leather. The rich, broad tannins give way to balanced acid and lasting finish. The 2013 Uncle's Block will benefit from an additional 6-12 months of bottle aging, and will continue to drink well over the next 5-7 years.
2012 Petite Sirah Rockpile - Madrone Spring Vineyard
Our family's Rockpile Ridge Vineyards are located at nearly 1,200-ft. elevation in the Rockpile appellation. The Petite Sirah is planted in the Madrone Spring block which is named after a year-round spring that flows out of the roots of an old Madrone tree. This portion of the vineyard is planted in extremely porous soils which is ideal for Petite Sirah. The block has a southeastern sun exposure, giving the fruit maximum sun from the morning to mid-day, ensuring that it ripens, but not too quickly. It is one of the last blocks harvested year in and year out
and it shows in the complexity of flavor.
Practically opaque, yet still vibrant, the color of the 2012 Rockpile Petite Sirah is spectacular. Aromas of black berry cobbler, candied licorice and sweet oak jump out of the glass. The palate is bright and focused, full of black fruit and baking spices. While this wine has great weight, the linear characteristic shows its balance and incredible aging potential. The tannins are chalky at this youthful stage, but perfect acidity brings the wine full circle. Please enjoy the 2012 Rockpile Petite Sirah for the next 10-12 years.
VINEYARD: Madrone Spring Vineyard
PRICE: $41 (4-bottle limit)
Our familys Rockpile Ridge Vineyards are located at nearly 1,200 ft elevation in the Rockpile appellation. The Syrah is planted in the Madrone Spring block which is named after a year round spring that flows out of the roots of an old Madrone tree. This block receives minimal sun due to its eastern exposure. It is the last block harvested year in and year out and it shows in the complexity of flavor. We envisioned this site yielding a Northern Rhone style of Syrah and we have not been disappointed.
Vineyard location is always of the utmost importance. In the 2011 vintage, which was characterized by the early rains, having vineyard sites that achieved phenolic
ripening before the rains came was the difference between producing a world class wine
and possibly not even picking our fruit. This vintage harkens to its Rhone Valley roots with
emphasis on finesse and subtlety versus heavy extraction and over-ripeness.
This is also the first vintage we incorporated whole cluster fermentation into our program which
added a layer of complexity to an already spectacular wine. The nose is a mixture of blue fruit, subtle oak, and a fresh meat component. Restrained and elegant, this wine is focused on the palate. Complex flavors of cola and baking spices meld gracefully with the more traditional rustic Syrah flavors. The tannins are linear and focused, yet graceful. The acid is perfectly balanced, indicative of the cooler growing season. While this wine should age beautifully for the next 6 – 8 years, it is stunning now!
VINEYARD: Madrone Spring Vineyard
2011 Buck Pasture Red Wine Buck Pasture - Rockpile Ridge Vineyards
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot
Having all five "Bordeaux" varietals at our disposal is an amazing luxury when creating
this wine. We strive for outstanding quality year in and year out, understanding that the
blend may change from one vintage to the next. The 2010 Buck Pasture is a spectacular
blend that perfectly integrates the "thunder and lightning" of the Bordeaux world. The
traditional Cabernet flavors of cassis, black cherry, cola and tobacco are complimented
by the high toned red fruit of Merlot. Not your "Sideways" Merlot, this component also
lends texture and minerality to the wine. The Petite Verdot brings a darker, brooding
component to the wine, insuring that it will cellar beautifully.
This vintage delivers the complexity and depth as expected of Rockpile but with a strong vein of elegance due to the cooler growing season and early heavy rains. The flavor profile runs the spectrum from red fruit to earthy notes and everything in between. The dark and savory character of the Petit Verdot is on display in the mid palate and again in its harmonious finish. The acidity is perfectly integrated throughout but is most notable in the long finish. The tannins are such that they will age gracefully for the next 6-8 years.
CASES: 214 - Wine Club Exclusive VINEYARD: Buck Pasture PRICE: $50 (Wine Club Exclusive)
Back in the old days when you wanted to find a big buck, you went to the area of the ranch called the Buck Pasture. These days the Buck Pasture is home to some of our Bordeaux varieties: Malbec, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc. With an elevation of nearly 1,100 ft, an average slope of 25 degrees and sweeping southwestern sun exposures, you could not ask for a better place to grow Malbec. Comprised primarily of gravely loam soils, there is very little water retention which limits the vigor and yield of these vines.
There is little doubt that the 2012 vintage is one of the greats of the last quarter century. In fact, I think it may represent the best Bordeaux varietals we have ever made, and the Malbec is no exception. The nose is combustive: an explosion of intense fruit, baking spice, minerals and rich oak. On the entry, the wine is focused, showing dark fruits and notes of cocoa and coffee. The tannins begin to unwind on the mid-palate, foreshadowing the evolution that lies ahead for this wine. The 2012 vintage is one of the most balanced of the past decade: The tannins are fine-grained and plush and the acid gives the wine freshness. Enjoy the 2012 Rockpile Malbec over the next 7-10 years.
2012 Rockpile Cabernet Franc Rockpile Buck Pasture Vineyard
Our family's Rockpile vineyards are located at nearly 1,200-ft. elevation in the Rockpile appellation. The Cabernet Franc is planted in the Buck Pasture Vineyard. With its gravelly loam soils, 30-degree slope and southwestern sun exposure, it is the absolute perfect place to grow this varietal.
The 2012 vintage is very deserving of the high praise it is receiving. The growing season was ideal, with great bunch set, moderate temperatures and no rain. While the crop was larger than a "normal" vintage, the increased crop size did nothing to diminish the concentration and tannins. These wines are going to drink great early on and age gracefully for years to come.
The nose of the 2012 Rockpile Cabernet Franc is absolutely intoxicating: Aromas of herbal tea, red fruit and pencil shaving blend seamlessly. While this wine shows restraint, the broad tannins and round mouth feel give an inkling of its potential. Flavors of red currant, mineral and graham cracker are abundant on the palate, while subtle flavors of sweet oak and pomegranate spice nibble at the edges of your senses. The finish shows the amazing balance of the 2012 vintage: Perfectly integrated acid preserves this incredible wine long after the last sip is gone. Please enjoy now through 2022.
When you have great vineyards, you always have the opportunity to make great wine! Vineyard location, or terrior as it is commonly referred, is always of the utmost importance. In the 2011 vintage, which was characterized by the early rains,
having the ideal vineyard site meant the difference between producing a world class wine and possibly not even harvesting your fruit. This vintage harkens to its Bordeaux roots with emphasis on finesse and subtlety versus heavy extraction and over-ripeness. The nose is full of dark fruit, cigar box, earthen spice, and
sweet oak. Lush on the entry, the wine has outstanding weight, especially for the vintage. Intense flavors of
cherry cola and black currant give way to the more subtle nuances of chocolate, espresso and ripe olive.
The depth of the 2011 Rockpile Cabernet Sauvignon is only overshadowed by its amazing balance, showing restrained acid on the finish. Prototypical of this appellation: broad and complex tannins give this wine the wherewithal to age gracefully for the next 8 – 10 years.
Port has always been a passion of mine. Some of my fondest family memories revolve around the dinner table: great food, great wine and of course, finishing the evening off with a great bottle of Port. In 1999 when we started planting our Rockpile vineyards, I seized the opportunity to fulfill one of my wine aspirations: to make a vintage port using authentic Portuguese varieties. We planted four of the primary varieties used in the production of Port and we have exhausted every effort to make this wine as true to a vintage port as possible.
As one might expect from the amazing 2012 vintage, this may be the best
"Independence" we have ever made. Crushed berry fruit is abundant in the nose, complemented by intricate flavors of fresh-cut flowers, cotton candy and oak spice. Chocolate-covered cherries dominate the palate, with rich notes of coffee and vanilla on the periphery. The entry is lush and broad, without any sharp edges, but you can tell that structured tannins lay just below the surface. Notes of licorice and nutmeg add to the incredible complexity of this wine. The finish shows the balance of the vintage: beautiful acid intertwined with fine grained tannins. While this wine is more than en joyable now, it will benefit from a year or two in the cellar and age gracefully for the next 10-20 years.