Pesenti Vineyard, Paso Robles

 Aerial view of the Pesenti Vineyard, uniquie for its aspect-oriented blocks.

Aerial view of the Pesenti Vineyard, uniquie for its aspect-oriented blocks.

 

Overview:

This certified organic estate-owned vineyard was planted in the 1920’s on primarily limestone soil. Though the vines are head-trained and dry-farmed, the soil plays the most important role in distinguishing this vineyard on the west side of Paso Robles. The wines have a brightness, with chalk and floral aromas unique to the site, and to Zinfandel in general.

 

2015 Zinfandel Tasting Notes:

Paso Robles has continued to be the hardest-hit region by the drought; in 2015, the Pesenti vineyard yielded only 1 ton to the acre, sometimes even less!  Regardless, the wine is so unmistakably Pesenti: vibrant, bright red fruits like raspberry on the nose, with just a dash of white pepper and distilled minerals. The palate has more density and concentration than years previous, all of which is mitigated by a vigorous acidity, culminating in a wine that is pure pleasure.

A little history...

Once upon a time, Paso Robles was under water. Whales swam where we now grow grapes! Fast-forward just a 'few' years, and the land itself is now composed of ancient uplifted seabed (calcareous mudstone), which creates an idyllic soil profile in a Mediterranean-style climate.

Frank Pesenti immigrated to the United States in the late 1880s and eventually found his way to Templeton, CA. He purchased this ranch in 1919 which was heavily forested with oak trees. During a time where the charcoal industry was thriving, he was able to sell the cleared lumber and use the profits to help plant (you guessed it) a Zinfandel vineyard. Frank began prepping the soil using a team of horses and began planting in 1922. In the same year, he sent for his wife, Catarina, to join him on their homestead. Prior to immigrating to the States, Frank became a Jack-of-all-trades gaining useful experience as a bricklayer in France. Utilizing that knowledge, Frank Pesenti created and laid the bricks to become what is now the Pesenti Winery. The winery was officially bonded in 1934. 

The Pesenti Winery stayed in the family until Larry Turley purchased the property in 2000. Cheers to Frank Pesenti for laying the foundation of such an incredible vineyard and winery. 

 

QUICK FACTS:

  • Year Planted: 1922-1924
  • Varietals: 40 acres planted to mostly Zinfandel.
  • Organic: Yes, CCOF Certification
  • Farming Method: Head trained, dry farmed. 10 ft x 10 ft spacing.
  • Primary Soil Profile: Calcium based (limestone)
  • Elevation: 1,100 ft high, 900 ft low STEEP SLOPES
  • First Turley Vintage: 2001

Brennan Stover has been working these hills as Turley Templeton's Vineyard Manager for over 15 years. It was at this vineyard and winery that he experienced his first earthquake (they do not have those over in his native state of Kansas). He has experienced a lot between these vines over the years, yet Brennan still claims the most interesting thing about the vineyard is its aspect-oriented blocks. For a vineyard planted in 1922, changing the orientation of a block to capture the most sun exposure was revolutionary for its time period. This creates various ripening rates for the grapes and numerous pick days during harvest. Thanks to Frank Pesenti's innovation, the resulting wines are a true benchmark for a perfectly balanced Zinfandel from Paso Robles.

 

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Distinctive Character, Wines, and More:

Being that the vineyard lies a mere 8 miles from the coast, the Willow Creek District of the Paso Robles AVA experiences a Mediterranean-style climate with warm days and cold nights. In fact, Paso Robles has some of the most extreme temperature swings of any grape-growing region. The result: simply exciting wines. 

Paso winemaker, Karl Wicka, produces four wines from the Pesenti Vineyard: Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Tecolote (Grenache/Carignane), and Grenache Blanc (White Coat). With the calcaerous limestone and the occasional carignane vine interplanted with Zinfandel, the Pesenti Zin takes on a unique brightness leading to a "sweet-tart-esque" character. Like I said, exciting wines. The Petite Syrah vines were planted from cuttings hailing from the Hayne Vineyard in St. Helena. The wine it produces maintains the structural integrity of a well-built Petite Syrah all the while bringing in approachable vibrancy to the glass, even in its youth. The Tecolote (meaning Owl in Spanish) is comprised of old vine Grenache and Carignane and totals only 5 barrels. Finally, the Grenache Blanc is Paso's contribution to the adored White Coat.