When Joel (a.k.a. the Godfather of Zin) co-founded the Ravenswood winery in 1976, he changed the destiny of California’s indigenous grape varietal forever. Joel now works with over 100 growers to ensure the grapes are of the highest quality and it shows. Ravenswood is one of the few wineries that have had the philosophical and winemaking skill of one winemaker for over 30 years, contributing to a consistency and quality rarely found in California.
His combination of skills, in addition to his uncompromising commitment to nature and his enthusiasm for all things flavourful, dictates the style of the wines good enough to bear the distinctive Ravenswood stamp. As Joel says, ‘in the beginning it was Zin or nothing for us.’ When asked if he was prepared to produce a white Zinfandel wine in those early days, Joel’s response was a straightforward ‘I don’t make that wimpy stuff’ and the ‘No Wimpy Wines’ mantra was born.
Joel’s approach to winemaking focuses on using winemaking techniques from the Old World and in particular France to produce premium wines of exceptional quality. Ravenswood wines are never over-oaked or loaded with residual sugar and they are well suited to ageing. In 2011, Joel was elected to the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
Unsurprisingly, Ravenswood’s forward-thinking approach has positioned them at the forefront of sustainable winemaking: from the top of their winery, covered with solar panels, to the rivers and streams that border the vineyards, Ravenswood play a part in the Fish Friendly Farming programme. They are also certified participants in California’s Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.