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 ear
then spice with an exotic floral component. On
the pallet, flavors of fresh raspberry are compleme
nted by nuances of sweet oak and white
pepper. The 2011 vintage is more feminine than prev
ious versions: the entry is soft and round
with silky tannins. There is a refined elegance to
this Zinfandel and it finishes with beautifully
balanced acidity. Enjoy the 2011 Westphall Ridge Vi
neyard over the next 4-5 years.
Opulent and lush, the Jack's Cabin Zinfandel is definitely the jammiest of all the Rockpile zinfandels. Theres no mistaking the raspberry and blackberry in the nose, but its the subtle hints of chocolate, vanilla, and black pepper that heighten your senses. The mouth is big and round, full of soft velvet. For all of the ripe fruit, this wine still exhibits the Rockpile signature of great intensity and full tannins. This goes to show, there is a Rockpile Zinfandel for everyone, and some of us, there may be four.
Our family's Rockpile Ridge Vineyards are located a
t nearly 1,200 ft elevation in the
Rockpile appellation. The Cemetery block gets its n
ame from the unusual outcropping of
rock at the bottom of the vineyard that resembles g
iant headstones. This area of the ranch
has been called the Cemetery for over 140 years. Th
e Cemetery Vineyard is planted in
serpentine and shale based soils which is a result
of straddling the Rodgers Creek Fault,
one of the more active earthquake faults in Norther
In a vintage like 2011 you truly get an understandi
ng of just how important is it to be in
the vineyard throughout the growing season. The ab
normally cool conditions required
meticulous leaf removal and color thinning. Our gr
eat attention to detail early in the
season, proved successful when we were able to pick
this block at physiological ripeness
prior to the early heavy October rains. The 2011 v
intage produced wines of grace and
The nose is quintessential Cemetery: dark fruit, hi
nts of toasted brioche and mocha.
Broad on the front palate, the tannins are velvety
and present throughout. Rich flavors of
roasted coffee are greeted by nuances of ripe blueb
erry and that typical Rockpile mineral
vein that carries through to the finish. This wine
will age gracefully for the next four to
We are extremely excited about the first release of our Uncle's Block Zinfandel! Uncle's Block
is named after my uncle, Chris Mauritson. When my grandfather, Edward Mauritson, passed
away, he divided the Rockpile property between my dad and his brother. Chris got the east side
of the property and my dad got the west side. My dad planted Chris' vineyard shortly thereafter
and he has managed it ever since. Located at nearly 1,300 ft elevation at the top of the Rockpile
ridgeline, this amazing vineyard site represents a completely different terrior than our current
lineup of Rockpile Zinfandels! Characterized by its Eastern sun exposure, volcanic soil, steep
slope, and lack of water, this vineyard is one of our most stressed sites and it is reflected in the
Characteristic of the incredible 2012 vintage, this wine has it all. The nose is a combination of
dark fruit, earthen notes, 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 is complemented by
terrior driven notes, the tannins are both firm and velvety, and the acid gives the wine freshness.
Enjoy the 2012 Uncle's Block over the next 5-7 years.
2011 Petite Sirah Rockpile - Madrone Spring Vineyard
More often than not, Petite Sirah is done the disservice of being used as a blending wine. On the rare occasion that it is bottled as a variety, it usually has generous amounts of Zinfandel blended into it to make it softer. The 2006 Madrone Spring Vineyard Petite Sirah is 100% Petite Sirah, 100% from Rockpile, and there is nothing petite about it. Consider yourself warned!
There is no mistaking the density of the wine simply by swirling it in your glass.
The black and violet hues cling to the glass, not only showing off the color but also the
viscosity. The 2011 vintage exemplifies the beautiful balance that persists at Rockpile
between high tones of black fruit and crushed fresh rock. The hints of nutmeg and
vanilla bean on the nose segway into roasted coffee. Enticing flavors of blackberry pie
on the front palate are followed by notes of baking spice, and dusty tannins coat your
mouth from front to back. There is no doubt that this wine that will age gracefully.
VINEYARD: Madrone Spring Vineyard
PRICE: $37 (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
2010 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.
The flavor profile runs the spectrum from dark fruit to earthy notes and everything in
between. The dark and herbal 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 8-10 years.
CASES: 151 - 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.
Aromas of ripe fruit are complemented with hints of oak and mineral. A darker and more
richly textured version that the previous year, the front palate is full and rich, yielding
to exotic spices and nuances of oak on the back palate. It finishes with balanced acidity,
making it a dynamic food wine. Though it is fabulous now, the 2011 Rockpile Malbec
will age gracefully for the next 6 to 8 years.
2011 Rockpile Cabernet Franc Rockpile Buck Pasture Vineyard
The Buck Pasture is home to some of our Bordeaux varieties: Malbec, Petit 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.
Typical of the 2011 vintage, this wine is a more feminine version of the previous iterations. The
nose is prototypical Cabernet Franc: red fruit, pencil lead, and herbal notes with a touch of sweet
French Oak. Fresh raspberry fruit is prevalent on the soft entry, followed closely by rich flavors
of cocoa and maple. The traditional earthen flavors of Cabernet Franc are more concentrated on
the mid palate, accentuated by cigar box and lead pencil shavings. Full bodied, the mouth feel
is lush with firm tannins and a persistent finish. This wine will age gracefully for the next 6-7
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.
If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, the 2011 Independence is truly a great homage to
vintage Port. Candied fruit is complemented by rich aromas of chocolate and caramel on the
nose. Flavors of blackberry and cherry reduction exemplify the fruit. Rich on the front palate
without any sharp edges, structured tannins lay just below the surface. Complex flavors of
tobacco, minerals and hints of freshly ground nutmeg compliment the ripe berry fruit. The great
balance of this wine makes it enjoyable with sweets and aged cheeses. This wine should age
well over the next 10-15 years.