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This story originally appeared in California Winery Advisor.

Great Value California Zinfandel Finds

Who is making the best California Zinfandel wine? Can you find a great Zinfandel under $25? I set out to answer these questions. Finding a good value in wine is always a goal. But with value, we also want quality and character. Fortunately, all three can be found in Zinfandel, California’s grape! Sure, Zinfandel may have lost its popularity awhile back. The wines had become known more for their over-ripeness, high alcohol levels and notes of prunes and stewed fruit. But the pendulum has swung back and it is time to think about Zinfandel as a balanced wine. I am here to share some Zinfandel finds that hit all the points – quality, character, and value.

Artezin Mendocino Zinfandel 2016 ($18)

Winemaker Randle Johnson started Artezin wines in 2002 to honor the art of making California Zinfandel, a grape he has been working with for 30 years and says is “a lot of work for a great reward.” He considers making Zinfandel an art in many ways because it is a challenging grape. It is almost as difficult to grow as Pinot Noir, it has a tendency to over-crop and has a propensity for residual sugar. Zinfandel “should not taste like Smucker’s Jam or root beer,” expressed Johnson who focuses making the wine varietally correct. With red fruit aromas of pomegranate, cherry and boysenberry, as well as sweet brown spices. This Mendocino Zinfandel is soft and round on the palate with bright acidity and fine tannins. Check out current prices for Artezin California Zinfandel on 

Easton Amador County Zinfandel 2014 ($22) AND Easton “E” Fiddletown Zinfandel 2012 ($25)

This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
The Shenandoah Valley sits between two mountain ranges, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains.
Tucked in a valley, it does not have close proximity to urban centers as its neighboring wine regions (Middleburg AVA has Washington, D.C., and Monticello AVA has Charlottesville). What the Shenandoah Valley has is the town of Winchester to the north, which is the apple capital of the country, and the small town of Staunton to the south, a charming place.
In addition, the Shenandoah Valley is located at a higher elevation and gets less rain compared to the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains and other wine areas in Virginia. It is a statistically drier and cooler area, and perhaps it is the most ideal place to be making wine in Virginia.