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"Those who doubt the existence of terroir in the United States or who scoff at the whole notion of terroir owe it to themselves to try several of the Old Hill zins... They are particular wines that very much speak of Old Hill."
-Eric Asimov, New York Times
Founded in 1851, Old Hill Ranch is possibly the oldest vineyard in Sonoma. In 1981 it was purchased by Otto Teller, the stepfather of current winemaker Will Bucklin, and resurrected from a state of disrepair having become overrun with old cars, blackberry bushes and old bathroom fixtures. After several years of work the vineyard was back on track and in 1984 they began selling the grapes to Ravenswood for their acclaimed Old Hill Zinfandel. In 1998 the four Bucklin siblings decided to start their own winery so, after having interned at Lafite-Rothschild, worked at Hardy and Sons in Australia, Navarro winery in Mendocino, and being the winemaker at King Estate winery in Oregon, Will Bucklin returned to take over tending the vineyard and winemaking responsibilities at Old Hill Ranch.
The 24 acre Old Hill vineyard is a classic California field blend composed mostly of Zinfandel, about 77%, and the remaining third being a mix of Grenache, Alicante Bouchet, and a least a dozen other varieties (Tannat, Trousseau, Colombard, Lenoir, etc…). The vineyard is both dry farmed and certified organic with yields that rarely exceed one and a quarter tons per acre.
Wines are fermented using only native yeasts and are aged using modest amounts of new oak. The goal here is to allow this carefully tended piece of California history to show its terroir without adding or removing anything that might diminish its expression. Old Hill Ranch is an exceptionally well preserved relic from the genesis of California’s wine landscape and luckily, under the careful watch of the Bucklin family, it has a long life ahead.
Here is a link to Will Bucklin's blog: buckzin.wordpress.com
And a link to an interesting MAP of vineyard plantings.