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Like father, like son

Sarah Knowles MW gets to hear all about the exciting new venture between Joel Peterson and his son Morgan Twain-Peterson MW which is looking back as much as to the future

Joel Peterson, Ravenswood Joel and his redwood vats from the 1980s happily reunited

We have been enjoying Joel Peterson's wines from Ravenswood for a long time at The Wine Society and his famous motto of 'no wimpy wines' has been well and truly evidenced by the bottles we have drunk over the years. Intensely flavoured, big, bold, soft and juicy zinfandels, these couldn't be more different from the blush wines or white zins that did nothing for this grape's reputation. Not only has Joel proved categorically that zinfandel can make great everyday reds, he has also highlighted how certain old-vine vineyards can make wonderful cellar-worthy wines. He must take some of the credit for saving many of these venerable old vines from being ripped out when zinfandel was not so fashionable.

On this trip I was able to have dinner with Joel after our tasting of current wines, where we tried two or three stunning older zins that really proved this point. However the main topic of conversation was centred around Joel's new project – Once and Future.

Joel has collected his original redwood tanks from storage and popped them into his son's winery, Bedrock (the apple didn't fall far from the tree). Here he is making a range of red wines that he really feels could be some of the best of his career. He has focused on old vines he has worked with over the last 40 years, going for low intervention in the winery and crafting intense, age-worthy very fine California reds. I am delighted that we managed to secure the UK's first allocation of these single-vineyard wines, including a blend that is exclusive to The Wine Society. Look out for these wines as they will go fast!

The next generation

While catching up with Joel, I also of course heard about and tasted his son's wines which go under the Bedrock label and have been taking the wine world by storm. Morgan Twain-Peterson MW grew up tasting wine with Joel, fermenting small lots of pinot aged five! Wine was clearly running in his veins already, but stints in McLaren Vale in Australia and Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux honed his skills further. His Master of Wine qualification is further proof that this man knows his wines!

Morgan and his father bought the Bedrock vineyard in 2004. It's an amazing site with vines originally planted here back in 1895 when it was owned by George Hearst (the senator father of William Randolph-Hearst). Some 33 acres of these original vines remain and are still producing wine over 100 years later.

Morgan Twain-Peterson MW Morgan Twain-Peterson MW
Magnificent Old Zinfandel Vines Sonoma County Magnificent Old zinfandel vines Sonoma County
Venerable roots – old-vine zinfandel Amador County Venerable roots – old-vine zinfandel, Amador County

So it's not surprising that Bedrock is dedicated to making wonderful expressions of some of California's oldest vineyards, aiming to raise their status and display the complexities of traditional old field blends, rather ignominiously referred to as 'other reds' in the past.

The winery is also committed to taking advantage of the diverse terroirs of California. With fruit coming from the heart of Oakville in Napa, to the northern reaches of Mendocino and gold hills of Amador, the vastness of Lodi and the beaches of Contra Costa to every corner of Sonoma, there are some really interesting and expressive parcels of wine being crafted. Look out for a selection of these hard-to-come-by wines coming soon.

Where to go next?

Venerable Vines

Going South… The Central Coast

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