Peterson Winery

2005 Agraria Big Barn Red

Red Blend •Bradford Mountain Vineyard

California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley

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Mission Codename: Barn Burner

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Operative favorite, Peterson Winery. Secure their seldom-produced, quantity-limited AGRARIA Big Barn Red, a stellar blend of 78% Cabernet Franc and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon that is only produced in years where the fruit is deemed to be worthy.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Peterson Winery

Wine Subject: 2005 AGRARIA Big Barn Red

Winemaker: Jamie Peterson

Backgrounder: Peterson Winery has become a true favorite of The Wine Spies and its Operatives. We are consistently impressed with the wines that are produced by the father and son team of Fred and Jamie Peterson. Today’s wine is a limited-production wine, with approximately just 110 cases produced. The fact that they only produce this wine during certain vintages, adds the the specialness of the wine. Blended from 78% Cabernet Franc and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, the Peterson’s used only their finest Bradford Mountain grapes for this spectacular wine.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep and alluring, this wine shows some of the deepest and most inky Burgundy hues we have seen in a Cabernet blend. Color is deep and concentrated, through its darker core, and out to the ruby ring that encircles the glass. Spin this hearty-looking wine, and it settles quickly, leaving behind wine-stained tears that take a while to emerge – and the move swiftly down the glass.

Smell – Bold and warm, with layers of lush aromas, leading with blackberry, black cherry, aged cedar with a dusty, earthy underpinning of bramble, spice and the slightest hint of eucalyptus.

Feel – Bold intensity, but bright and lively, with a firm structure and plenty of acidity and with a great minerality that adds to the strong backbone.

Taste – Lively and mouth-filling with bold and balanced flavors or red and black fruit. Blackberry and cherry lead the way, with blueberry, tart raspberry and mulberry close behind. As the minerality and and acidity kick, in additional flavors of flint, soft oak and spice take shape, adding to the wonderful complexity of the wine.

Finish – Ultra-long with flavors that start bright and juicy, and then go darker and rich, as minerals and bright acids morph the flavors in a cascade of delight.

Conclusion – The 2005 Peterson Winery AGRARIA Big Barn Red was a huge hit with our tasting panel. Universally, we all agreed that this wine is among the best we have tried from Peterson. While the wine showed off some strong barrel character on opening, this softened as the wine was decanted. There is still some oak on the finish, but it is well integrated with all of the fruit and minerality. This wine is a big and bright and goes with anything, particularly a grilled steak or anything with big flavor itself. The acidity makes it the perfect wine for between bites, offering both big flavor, but also a lovely cleanse of the palate. This wine is ready to enjoy now, but be sure to tuck some bottles away for the next several years, as it has real aging potential! Most of all, please be certain that you do not miss out.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Jamie Peterson

DATE OF BIRTH: March 20, 1981

PLACE OF BIRTH: Saratoga, CA (Mt. Eden Vineyards)

WINE EDUCATION: Ongoing, on-the-job. UC Davis Extension chemistry/lab analysis/viticulture classes.

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Grew up in Peterson Winery, helping with odd jobs in the winery and vineyard as a teenager. Worked first harvest at 19, and then traveled to Australia and New Zealand to work harvest in 2001. took over as Assistant Winemaker at Peterson Winery in 2002. Given full Winemaker responsibility in 2006.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Zero Manipulation”/Minimal intervention, letting the vineyard and vintage show through in each bottling. No fining, no filtration. Minimal new oak usage, minimal additions and SO2 use.

SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”If it ain’t got the root, it ain’t got the fruit.”

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: 2002 Vintage, released in 2004


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Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Peterson Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Complex aromas and flavors of spicy cedar, violets, berry and dusty tannins reflect a classic Cabernet blend. The mountain Terroir contributes an alluring minerality and robust acidity that wind around the palate, enhancing the favors and complexity while making this wine an ideal match with food.

The finish shows off the lovely combination of fruit, oak and tannins, and as the favors dissipate you are ready to sip again, and again. With additional bottle aging, this wine will continue to soften and develop into a smooth, richly seductive Cabernet blend.

Fred’s (Peterson) Vintaged View: Our first vintage of Agraria was in 1996 when our Bradford Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes were ready to harvest at the same time. Normally these two varieties ripen 7 to 10 days apart. When we harvested them on the same day, we found ourselves short of fermentation tanks, so we decided to co-ferment the Cabernet Franc and Merlot. When we tasted the wine from barrel that winter, we were floored by the richness and suppleness of this mountain grown Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend. We decided to bottle some of this blend on its own, rather than just using it as part of our Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends; hence the birth of Agraria.

With the 1997 vintage we realized it was the Cabernet Franc from Bradford Mountain Vineyard that made our Agraria blend unique. Since 1997, our Agraria has usually been Cabernet Franc with Merlot, but sometimes more Cabernet Sauvignon or Petite Verdot is blended for added structure, which was the case in 2005. It is always 100% Bradford Mountain Vineyard fruit.

We are fond of calling this our “have your cake and eat it too” wine, meaning that it’s an incredibly rich and big wine that is ready to enjoy when released. The combination of 24 months of barrel aging in all new French oak and three years bottle aging allows the wine to integrate the barrel and grape tannins, forming complex, smooth favors and downright silky texture.

Vineyard: Bradford Mountain Estate Vineyard, on the western edge of the Dry Creek Valley is where Fred and Kathleen live and raised their children, and where Fred planted his first vineyard in Dry Creek in 1983. The vineyard is located just south of Bradford Peak at 1,000 ft. elevation with the perfect southwest exposure. The Cabernet Sauvignon clone planted is the “La Cuesta” selection that was planted in Woodside, California by Dr. Rixford in the 1880’s from cuttings taken from Chateaux Margaux. The well-drained, red clay soil of Bradford Mountain combined with sunny days and cool nights produce small, intensely favored grapes.

About Peterson Winery:

We are located in the Dry Creek Valley, in the northwest region of Sonoma County. Peterson Winery’s new tasting room is now open for wine tasting and sales daily 11am-4:30pm. We often pour our wines at local tasting and charity events as well. Check for upcoming events on the News & Events page.

Our wines are also available for tasting at the “LOCALS” tasting room in Geyserville. See for directions and details. Click on the “Find Us” link for a map to the winery and to LOCALS in Geyserville.

If you have any questions about Peterson Winery or our wines, send us an e-mail at and we’ll respond as soon as we can.

We can’t tell our whole story here, but we hope that by looking at a few photos and reading a bit more about us, you’ll find out who we are and why we love to make great wines.

About The Winemaker:

Jamie Peterson – It’s not by coincidence that I’m the winemaker at Peterson Winery. I’ve been helping my father at the winery for the past ten years, back to the days of labeling the bottles by hand. I worked two harvests here at the winery, in 2000 and 2001, and the 2001 harvests Down Under in Australia at Lowe Family Winery, and then in New Zealand, at Ngatarawa Winery. With this solid base of experience, much to my excitement I was given the opportunity of taking over winemaking duties in June 2002, and have been loving it ever since.

Overseeing the quality of the wine from when the grapes come in all the way through to the bottle is my main responsibility and priority. Since it’s just my father and I, this keeps me pretty busy, but when I’m not checking up on barrels or wrestling with the bottling equipment, you can often find me at one the numerous tasting events we attend, whether it is for charity or for the love of wine. In my free time, I’ve started a Peterson Winery softball team with my friends here in Healdsburg. I also enjoy cooking, foraging for local culinary mushrooms, reading, and am a Giants baseball fan. Continuing winemaking tradition of Zero Manipulation.

Technical Analysis:

Composition: 78% Cabernet Franc, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Vineyard: Bradford Mountain Vineyard

Alcohol: 14.6%

pH: 3.34

TA: 0.72g/100ml

Barrel Aging: 24 months

Type of Oak: 100% new French oak barrels

Bottling Date: October 31, 2007

Production: 200 cases

Release Date: March 2010

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