Robert Biale Vineyards
Summary: This is the “House of Zin.” The Biales began the planting of Zinfandel in the 1930's for family use. In recent years, they have discovered the quality wine that Petite Sirah grapes can provide and have fallen in love with it. When you visit ask about the “Black Chicken.” Visitors to Robert Biale Vineyards need an appointment.
The Biale family, immigrants from northern Italy began growing grapes in Napa Valley in the 1930’s. According to Bob Biale, immigrant families always made wine. Even in the 1930’s the Biales were making wine primarily for home use. However, in order to make a little extra money, Aldo Biale sold a little homemade wine on the side. In those days, telephones had “party lines.” In the probable chance others were listening in to conversations when someone wanted to order a bottle of wine, they would use the code name “Black Chicken.” People would call and order three-dozen eggs and a black chicken, code for a jug of wine. Driving into a small parking area at the winery, one will see a sign that says, “Watch for Black Chicken.”
Today the third generation has 24 acres of grapes with large plantings of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. It was in 1991 that the Biale family along with friend and business partner Dave Pramuk decided to produce wine under the Biale label. The first vintage produced 400 cases of wine. They have also discovered the advantages of growing Petite Sirah. They believe that Petite Sirah interacts well with food. It has the potential of going head to head with Cabernet Sauvignon as a food friendly wine. They also use grapes from other growers in Napa Valley and Sonoma. Contracts with growers specify the terms with how the vineyard is maintained including pruning and harvesting. They follow the model that the vineyard makes the wine. In the winery, they use the traditional punch down rather than the pump over. “When you’re punching down you try to be very consistent.” A hand operated electrical punch down is used with the large stainless steel tanks.
Petite Sirah 2007 was aged in French oak. The wine was a dark purple/black opaque color. The aroma and taste were of dark fruit and finished with bold tannins. Petite Sirah 2005 had extended barrel aging for 32 months in French oak. The result was a dark purple wine with an aroma and taste of dark fruit. The wine finished with fruity nuances and bold tannins. The Petite Sirah 2006 was produced from grapes in the Thomann Station vineyard. The aroma and taste offered notes of spice and dark fruit. The wine finished with bold tannins. Zinfandel 2007 was a light purple. This wine was named Black Chicken. This wine offered spice with a lot of fruit nuances. Zinfandel 2007 was produced with Stagecoach Vineyard's grapes. The wine was a transparent purple. The aroma had notes of red berries with some minerality. The taste was smooth with red berry nuances. The wine finished with mild tannins. Zinfandel 2007 from Grand Vineyard grapes was a purple/rose color. The wine had a fruity finish with bold tannins.
Remember to call for an appointment to visit Robert Biale Vineyards. Watch for the Black Chicken and try the Petite Sirah.
Robert Biale Vineyards
4038 Big Ranch Road
GPS: N38º 21.031’ W122º 18.088’
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