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No one really wants to see the sausage being made. Occasionally, there is reason to see how things come together.

grape-sense-logoGrape Sense is now in its 11th year of publication all around Indiana and viewed via social media coast to coast. People often ask if all ideas have been exhausted. That’s not really a problem. Opportunity sometimes provides ideas and new directions and that has happened lately. The 10 years of wine writing has opened up more connections with marketing firms directly to wineries and winemakers.

Numerous opportunities have popped up recently to interview winemakers in California, Oregon and even Italy. Reading winemakers thoughts about their approach to production and their views of the industry is really educational. A few weeks ago we featured Ravenswood’s Gary Sitton, who has replaced the legendary Joel Peterson. Today’s column features more specifics. We’ll feature more such features in Grape Sense throughout 2018.

Ravenswood is one of the leading Zinfandel producers in the country. Historically, Peterson’s efforts have not only propelled the winery but the varietal. Entry-level Ravenswood is widely available in Indiana. Select vineyard designate wines can be found at better wine shops.

Gary Stitton

Ravenswood’s’ Gary Sitton

Sitton began our conversation talking about Ravenswood’s approach to Sonoma County Zinfandels.

“We pick the grapes just ripe, not over-ripe and allowing for the grapes’ natural acidity to bring freshness in young wines, but also the ability to age over time,” Sitton said. “Our winemaking techniques of really focusing on the vineyard enables us to create Sonoma Zinfandels as it is our home, as well as produce Zins from Lodi, Napa and Mendocino Counties, all of which are full of personality and can be traced across vintages.”

Sitton also appreciates getting into the tasting room to see how his wines are being received. “I try to make it into the tasting room when I can, to get some one-on-one time with our visitors,” he said. “I like to get a personal take and get a pulse to how they feel about our wines. I think it’s important to have firsthand insight from the people supporting us the most. More so, I think it is important to have a face behind Ravenswood, in the tradition of our Founding Raven (Peterson), as it shares the true human story of our Sonoma winery’s home.”

The entry-level wines, usually under $20, are approachable and give wine fans a good introduction to California Zinfandel. Certainly the vineyard designates, in the $39-$60 category, present richer and smoother Zins for a more refined taste.

“With Ravenswood County Series, Single Vineyard Designates, as well as our Vintners Blend wines, we believe we can continue to support wide national distribution, while providing options at different price points,” Sitton said.

And if you travel to Sonoma, Ravenswood is a great stop just outside the town of Sonoma.