Award-winning Zinfandel from the newest winery on the block
There’s a new winery in town called Bottle Jack, and judging from the Zinfandel I tried at Gourmet Grazing on the Green last month, it will be making its mark on the local scene. Friends told me they joined the winery’s Wine Club immediately when they visited for a tasting.
When a friend came by for a late afternoon visit, I cracked open Bottle Jack’s 2012 Zinfandel, Santa Cruz Mountains ($32) to pair with some creamy Brie on a crusty French baguette, and we demolished nearly the whole bottle. Full-bodied and rich, this lusty wine is what a Zin should be: fruit forward with lots of blueberry, blackberry and a soupçon of pepper and cinnamon running through, adding to its intrigue and intensity. This 2012 Zinfandel received accolades at the California State Fair, winning Best Micro Red, Best of Class of Region, and Double Gold (98 pts)—and credit is due as the competition is stiff.
Winemaker John Ritchey says he started Bottle Jack as a project while earning his enology degree at Fresno State University in 2008, also gaining experience at David Bruce Winery. The definition of a Bottle Jack, as many of you must be wondering, is a mechanical device used to lift heavy loads by applying great force—and occasionally to press wine. Ritchey and his wife Katharine are now on a mission to turn out the best wines possible—dedicated to those who have inspired, supported and encouraged others to achieve their dreams.
Ritchey continues to grow Bottle Jack while working on winemaking teams for a number of wineries located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and gaining experience abroad in Italy, France, Switzerland, and Moldova. “Our hands are in every step of the process from grape to bottle,” Ritchey says.
Tastings are held at Bottle Jack from noon to 4 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month. Oct. 17 is the release date for Bottle Jack’s Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah and Reserve Syrah with a special Syrah tasting flight that will include library wines going back to 2008. On Nov. 21 and 22 the winery will be open for Passport (visit scmwa.com for information) and will include specials on wines that pair well for Thanksgiving, along with some Thanksgiving-inspired food.
Bottle Jack Wines, 1088 La Madrona Drive, Santa Cruz, 227-2288. bottlejackwines.com.
Restaurant Week runs Oct. 14-21, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to try a few places you have never visited. Three-course dinners are $25 and $35, and you can book ahead of time on OpenTable. Info: santacruzrestaurantweek.com
ZINFUL WAYS John and Katharine Ritchey of Bottle Jack in their winery. PHOTO: LANE SKELTON