The Old College Try
Toast The Back-To-School Season With Old Vine Zinfandel
BY KATHY CASTEEL
Celebrate the return of students to Collegetown USA this month with a tasty Zinfandel from the vintners of Collegeville, Calif.
Campus Oaks Old Vine Zinfandel is a classic Californiared. A lush aroma of blackberries and plums leads to a sensory explosion of fruitful flavors — ripe raspberries, blackberries and cherries — with a touch of spice and a hint of vanilla on the silky smooth finish. Serve with grilled meats, pizza and tailgating fare; it’s also a great accompaniment at a tapas bar.
Campus Oaks is the flagship wine of Gneckow Family Winery in Collegeville, southeast of Stockton in California’sLodi appellation. Produced from Gneckow’s estate vines that are more than 80 years old, the deep ruby wine is 95 percent LodiZinfandel with a bit of Petite Sirah and Syrah added for structure. It has consistently won gold medals in wine competitions every year since its introduction in 1997. Wine Spectator lists Campus Oaks as one of its 100 Global Values,and just last year crowned it the “Best Zin Under $15.”
The “old vine” designation on the Campus Oaks label is significant — the term only applies to vines that have produced grapes for at least 40 years. In California, grapevines can produce usable wine grapes for up to 150 years, but vines that old are rare. Most vineyards in the Golden State range between 3 and 30 years old. Old-vine wines are prized because older vines are stronger and grow deeper roots, reaching different soil nutrients that affect the flavor of the grapes and the wine. Asvines age, they produce less fruit, concentrating more energy and nutrients into fewer grape clusters, resulting in more concentrated flavor and more interesting wines. California’s Lodi appellation has some of the oldest producing Zinfandel vines in the state.
Gneckow (pronounced “nee-ko”) produces eight varietalsunder the Campus Oaks label — Old Vine Zinfandel, Old Vine Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and White Zinfandel, sourced from Lodi, Sonoma, Napa and throughout California. Other Gneckow labels include Campus Oaks Reserve, Gneckow Family, Campus Oaks Champagne, Chateau Meroux and Yn red and white blends. The winery also produces wine for more than three dozen other wineries, including Kendall-Jackson, Hess and Bogle.
Campus Oaks wines are available nationwide. Check with your favorite wine shop.
Sharp-eyed movie fans may recognize the Campus Oaks bottlesfrom their cameo roles on the silver screen. The picturesqueGneckow Family Winery served as the inspiration for the 2011wine-geek romance movie “The Chateau Meroux” starring Marla Sokoloff, Barry Watson, Amanda Righetti andChristopher Lloyd.
The movie, filmed on the grounds and in the vineyards of Gneckow, follows the story of Wendy (Sokoloff), whose late father leaves her a struggling winery. While learning to managethe business, she must fend off a ruthless neighbor’s takeover bid and deal with feelings for his son. The plot rounds out with episodes of vandalism, theft, backstabbing, lies and love. The winemaking scenes are authentic and the scenery is magnificent. The wine is pretty good, too.