Once & Future 2021 Zinfandel, Oakley Road, Contra Costa County

Once & Future 2021 Zinfandel, Oakley Road, Contra Costa County

Item Number: 19458

UPC: None

Country: USA
Region: California
Sub Region: Central Coast
Appellation/AVA: Contra Costa County
Estate Grown Wine: No
Vineyard Designation: Oakley Road Vineyard
Vintage: 2021
Grape(s): Zinfandel / Mataro / Carignane
Type: Wine - Red
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Pack: 12
Closure: Cork
Alc by Vol(%): 14.7
Total Acidity: 6.4 g/L
pH: 3.5
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
Soil Type: Sand
Case Production: 177

Winemaking Notes: All the wines from the 2021 vintage have been made in the traditional Once & Future wine style: small open-topped redwood fermentors, full destemming, no berry sorting, indigenous yeast, hand punch down of the cap, indigenous malolactic fermentation, and aging in French oak on the yeast with variable amounts of new barrels, depending on the character of the wine. The wines were bottled with no fining or filtration. In short, this is very simple, traditional winemaking that relies on the unique aspects of the vineyard to define the flavor, nature, and quality of the wine. The goal here is not to make a good-flavored beverage, though these wines taste very good; it is to give the drinker a sense of the vintage and place that formed the flavors in these wines.

Vineyard Notes: The soils at Oakley Road vineyard are so sandy that early growers in this region were disparaged as “sandlappers.” Little did those wags know that the delta sands, with their Phylloxera inhibiting properties, would be the key to the survival of some amazing 121 year-old, own-rooted, non-irrigated vines. The microclimate of Oakley allows grapes to ripen early. It is not so much that it is hot during the growing months—the average temperature is about 74 degrees with the nights in the mid 50s and the days in the 90s during the month of July and August—but that the sandy soils warm earlier in the year than most other areas in California, and vine growth starts sooner. As the season progresses, the grapes continue to ripen consistently in spite of the cooling maritime winds from the Carquinez straits, due to the reflected sun from the Antioch sandy soils.

The resulting wines can be, in a word, graceful. The combination of own roots, old vines, deep sandy soils, and cooling afternoon breezes seems to encourage gentle, suave wines.

These Oakley Road vines may not be around much longer. This part of Contra Costa (CoCo for short) is changing rapidly. It has been an industrial backwater for a long time. High tension electrical lines, a PG&E power plant, and motels that rent by the hour stand in contrast to an inordinate number of churches and an increasing reality of fast-food restaurants that populate a disjointed human landscape. There is increasing urbanization as roads are widened and BART pushes east. Many of these vineyards are for sale with inflated land prices, having been designated as commercial land—the result being land costs that are more compatible with strip malls than farming. For now, the vines remain in the ground, producing viticultural treasure.

Vintage Notes by Vinous 1/2023: “The 2021s are brilliant across the board, as readers will see in the accompanying tasting notes. The Zinfandels from Bacigalupi, Green & Red and Teldeschi are all notable, as is the Merlot from the Sangiacomo family's Kiser ranch in Carneros. Once & Future is exactly what the name suggests – rooted in the past yet forward-looking. Quite simply, the 2021s are compelling.”


  • Vinous
    Rating: 92 (1/15/2023)

    The 2021 Zinfandel Oakley Road Vineyard is rich and boisterous right out of the gate. Opulent and effusive, with soaring aromatics, the 2021 has a lot of energy. It is also a bit wild and unruly, but all the elements are nicely put together. Succulent dark cherry, plum, coffee, spice and leather are nicely pushed forward. This bold, punchy Zinfandel sure makes an impression