Buck Cobb Vineyard, Amador County
It only seemed fitting to acquire a new estate in the Motherland of Zinfandel: Gold Rush Country. Amador County was the landing spot for the aspiring miners during the Gold Rush in 1800s. Nowadays, we harvest a different kind of "gold" from these hills - the sweet juice from the vines miners brought with them and planted.
Planted at 1,500 feet on the volcanic, granitic hillside near our new property in Amador, the Cobb Vineyard Zinfandel is an homage to Buck Cobb, owner of the vineyard and from whom we purchased the Karly property. The rocky conditions and more extreme weather (including snow!) in this dry-farmed vineyard make for a hearty, robust Zinfandel.
- Year Planted: Original in 1970s, majority of current vineyard planted in late 1990s
- Varieties Grown: 16 acres to Zinfandel. 1-2 acres each to: Vermentino, Primitivo, Alicante Bouchet, Petite Syrah, Mataro, and Barbera
- Wines Produced: Zinfandel, Vermentino (White Coat), and Juvenile contribution
- Vineyard Size: 25 acres
- Organic: Yes
- Farming Method: Dry farmed and head-trained
- Primary Soil Profile: Mainly Granitic with volcanic soil - Ahwahnee Rocky Loam and Sierra Coarse Sandy Loam
- Elevation: 1,500 ft.
- AVA: Amador County, Shenandoah Valley
- First Turley Vintage: 2012
2016 Zinfandel Tasting Notes:
This most recent iteration of the ‘Buck’ Cobb vineyard is a beautiful example of how well an Amador vineyard can evolve with the right farming techniques, attention, and care. The nose is richly enticing, with notes of dark fruits, cola, and a soft, savory smokiness as well. The palate shows some extra oomph, thanks to the structured fine-grained granitic tannins and a pleasant weightiness. We recommend decanting.
A little history...
Long before the existence of the frog farm (we will get to that in a second), there was a people group calling themselves Onastis (the "outspoken ones") residing in the area. The riparian habitat appealed to Spanish soldiers as well, as they claimed the region for their own. The outspoken group of natives were then named Wappo, meaning brave and handsome. Fast-forward a few years, and we get to the part of the story where Larry purchases a 5-acre frog farm in the small town of Saint Helena in 1974.
It was on this old frog farm where Larry met a young, aspiring winemaker named John Williams who was camping on the property (unbeknownst to Larry). After a couple bottles of wines, the two pledged to start a winery together. In 1979, Larry planted 2 acres of Sauvignon Blanc, and in 1981, Frog's Leap Winery was bonded and made its first wines from grapes purchased from Spottswood. Larry continued as a partner of Frog's Leap until 1993 when he sold his share back to John and his family, and Larry started Turley Wine Cellars at the old frog farm. The 2 blocks of Sauvignon Blanc were finally replanted to Zinfandel in 1996, thus starting the era of Turley Estate Zinfandel. Petite Syrah was planted in 1997, 2006, and 2011. More Zinfandel was planted in 2006, 2011, and 2015.
Distinctive Characters, Wines, and More:
The Estate Vineyard is about 320-280 feet above sea level (from west to east). The sloping elevation allows the cold air during frost events to slowly drain down to the south/east corner of the ranch and eventually to the Napa River. Five wind machines on the property facilitate the mixing of the inversion layer of air to keep sensitive new buds from falling below 32 degrees and being damaged by ice formation within the delicate, newly-expanding tissue in the spring. A consistent thermal gradient from south to north based on distance from San Pablo Bay has traditionally dictated what varieties have been planted where in the valley for hundreds of years. The notable exception is the area adjacent to the Mayacamas Gap / Chalk Hill Gap that periodically spills cooler coastal air and moisture into the northern Napa Valley just west of the Turley Estate. This consistent pattern of afternoon cooling during the hottest months of the year tend to slow the rapid development of sugar while allowing the fruit to naturally develop more intense flavors than it does in other hotter regions.
Starting as a harvest intern in 2003, Tegan Passalacqua now oversees all winemaking efforts across all three Turley wineries. With a decade and a half in our winery's cellar, Tegan continues to showcase wines with stylistic consistency and grace. Whether it be Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Petite Syrah, you can expect each wine from the Estate Vineyard to showcase the beautiful yet powerful displays of terroir here in our backyard.