ZD Wines Serves Award Winning Wines & Remarkable Views

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During this crazy 2020 year, surviving wildfire season, quarantine, shelter-in-place, limited capacity seating, COVID-19 fatigue has definitely set in. Wineries have quickly adjusted, adapted and have become even more creative, while reacting to the ever-changing restrictions. From modifying tasting experiences, creating parklets, popping up tents, buying heaters, umbrellas and initiating proper sanitizing protocols, businesses have been working overtime! Whether working in a tent, under a canopy, using cozy blankets, heaters, or via zoom in the comfort of your homes, wineries and hospitality venues alike, are doing their best to pivot to stay afloat and accommodate guests. You name it, businesses are trying everything to keep their businesses alive and their staff and guests safe. In the upcoming months, I intend to check out as many experiences as I can and bring them to you. My latest destination was ZD Wines, located in the Rutherford AVA of Napa Valley. 


Founded in 1969, ZD Wines has been owned and operated by the deLeuze family, for three generations.  Located in Rutherford, an area know for its particular soil content, volcanic and marine sedimentary debris that has eroded from the mountains over many years. This soil, "Rutherford Dust", along with warmer temperatures and gradually increasing elevation leads to fuller bodied wines. In a typical year, the ZD winery production is 25-30,000 cases. The wine process is overseen by Brandon deLeuze, 3rd generation, family Winemaker/Partner.


The first time I visited ZD Wines, in 2018, I had an unforgettable cellar tour with 4 friends. It included a barrel and private wine tasting in their cellar, followed by a formal tasting in their Vineyard View tasting room.


Last week a friend and I ventured back to ZD winery.  We had an al fresco experience on their gorgeous patio facing the vineyards. Wowed by the vistas, brilliant vineyard views and the Mayacamas mountains, the stunning backdrop prepared us for what was to come. The gorgeous sunny late November afternoon warmly greeted us, as did our host, tasting room manager, Chris Musante. Chris gracefully guided us thru the offerings and the ZD Wine brand story. He explained that the entire winery boasts being "green," is ecologically friendly, sustainable, biodiverse, uses  solar, whenever possible. ZD uses organic practices to make great wines from healthy vines. And, The winery even repurposes the water used to clean the wine tanks and winery, back into their vineyard.


We started our tasting with a new offering by ZD, a crisp  Sauvignon Blanc 2019. It is the winery's first foray at making Sauvignon Blanc, let's hope it isn't the last. It was a fabulous representation of the varietal.


Next we were treated to the wine that represents 2/3 of all ZD Wines sales nationally, its classic 2019 Chardonnay. At $42, it certainly holds up to its price tag. We were even more pleased with a the reserve chardonnay. Oh, la la, the fuller mouthfeel and creaminess was luscious. Both of these wines are perfect choices for Thanksgiving feasts. I purchased a magnum of the classic California Chardonnay for my Thanksgiving dinner.


ZD partners with Blossom Catering, an upscale catering service in Napa. They supply  rillettes, either salmon, duck or garlic, offered as supplements to the various tasting experiences. We chose the salmon which was served alongside crunchy, Model Bakery crostini, the nibble paired perfectly with the white wines. Other food offerings are chocolates from Yountville's own Kollar Chocolates, and artisanal cheese plates put together by the winery staff. Each supplemental food offering is priced at $15.


Next up, 2019 Carneros Pinot Noir ($56). This wine is a blend of several organically certified Carneros vineyards ,including a new block planted to clone 667 (an old favorite) from ZD’s own certified organic Carneros Estate Vineyard.


Then another treat was poured, 2018 Founder's Reserve Pinot Noir. In 1996, ZD Wines bought a historic vineyard in Carneros and planted 7 acres of Pinot Noir. Christened the deLeuze Vineyard, both Swan and Hanzell heritage clones were planted. The 2018 growing season, which was ZD Wines’ 50th harvest, has been described by many as a “winemaker’s dream.” The rainfall in February provided the vines an excellent start at bud break, which occurred slightly later than normal. Predictable weather through the spring and summer allowed for a longer growing season, and as a result, excellent flavor development in the berries. This single vineyard wine was sourced exclusively from ZD’s organically certified Carneros Estate Vineyard from a small, six-acre block planted to the Hanzell clonal selection.


Of note, the Founder's Reserve wine is a tribute to the memory of Norman deLeuze, ZD’s founder who passed away in 2007 at the age of 75. His photo is the highlight of the label. The deLeuze family used the original photograph from the book "Napa-Behind the Bottle" a book by author Bill Tucker, full of Portraits and Photography of Winery Owners and Vinyard Workers in Napa Valley.


After the last pour of the tasting, a delicious bold Napa Valley Cabernet, we were treated to a fortified sweet wine, Napa's version of a Port. Rosa Lee Sweet Whim ($60) was produced from 27 independent and distinct wines from the 2012-2015 vintages. The wine ages in 70% neutral American Oak and 30% seasoned Brandy barrels (an American twist on Cognac barrels traditionally used in Portugal), which helps add great complexity and depth of flavor. Medium purple in color, it provided up front aromas of cherry and raspberry, followed by subtle notes of almond, apricot, and spice. It has a sweetness that is juicy, without being overpowering. Bottled in late 2016, this wine is just beginning its journey. Collectors can consider cellaring for up to, as long as 40 years.


Not on our tasting this time, but must mention, for the lucky, ZD shines most brightly with their ABACUS brand. Produced every year since 1992 ABACUS is aged for three years in the barrel, allowing access to the young reserve wines as a blending component. Hence, there is always a component of young, fruit forward wine available to infuse into the ever-developing Abacus solera. The current bottling of Abacus XXII is a masterful blend of 28 vintages of ZD’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (1992-2019).


But what is an ABACUS? The Abacus, an ancient counting device, was chosen as this wine’s namesake. The wine is a “solera style” multiple vintage blend of every ZD Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ever produced. The medallion attached to each bottle depicts an abacus that identifies the first and last vintages in the wine.

The current Bottling of Abacus XXII is $2,175 per 3-bottle pack or $6,000 for a limited 3-liter bottle.
Future Bottling Reservation: Abacus XXIII (1992-2020) will be released October 2021 and is CURRENTLY available to reserve for $2,175 per 3-bottle pack. Price will increase on July 1, 2021.


Vineyard View Tasting
$40 per person; max 6 guests.

The Abacus Experience
$200 per person; max 6 guests.

Sample maturing wines in barrel, including ZD Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, while taking in the panoramic valley views on THE outdoor Vineyard View Deck. The tasting includes curated food pairings and artisan cheeses.

Next, a pour current release Reserve Chardonnay, Founder’s Reserve Pinot Noir, and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Guests will also be treated to a current release and a library selection of Abacus. Book Now




Try the Virtual Tasting "At Home with ZD," Included with At Home Tasting Packs.

Cannot make it to Napa Valley right now? No problem, ZD Wines has you covered.  The At Home tasting features either the classic, reserve, or library wines. Or, if you would like to curate a custom pack, that can also be arranged.

During your at home tasting, a ZD's hospitality professionals will guide you through each of your wine selections, including answering questions or exploring topics of interest you might have. You'll learn more about ZD's 50-year history, winemaking, and eco practices! Book Now