Peterson Winery

2009 Bernier "Zinyard" Zinfandel

Zinfandel •Bernier Zinyard

California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley

Offer Expired:Feb 13, 2012 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What We Say


The last Zin we featured sold out quickly. As with that wine, today’s also garnered this special alert. When you see a Superior Wine Alert, dear Operative, pay particular attention… and act quickly!


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Mission Codename: The Progeny of St. George

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: When we first featured it two years ago, Operatives fell in love with Peterson Winery’s fantastic Bernier Zineyard Zinfandel. Send Agent Red back to Peterson to secure an allocation of the latest vintage of this single Zinyard wine.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Peterson Winery

Wine Subject: 2009 Bernier Zineyard Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

Winemaker: Jamie Peterson

Winery Backgrounder: Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley is a treasure trove of great wines, but Zinfandel is the king in this region. Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel is a Wine Spies Operative favorite, and today’s wine clearly reinforces their love. Fred Peterson, gentleman framer, grows the grapes. His son, Jamie, turns the fruit into a magnificent experience in a bottle.

Varietal Backgrounder: Related to the Italian Primitivo grape and tracing its origin to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kastelanski, Zinfandel is one of the most versatile varietals with the ability to make wines, both rich to fruity, dark to light, and dry to sweet. Today’s wine is a delicious DCV Zin that is worthy of your cellar.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Darkest ruby red hues, with color that remains even, from core to the edge of the glass. Tall, skinny, wine-colored legs are slow to appear and slow to descend.

Smell – Softly spiced cherry candy, blackberry and plum jump from the glass. These are layered atop blackest cherry, chocolate powder, leather, dried tobacco leaf and black pepper.

Feel – Cool and soft and round on the initial attack. Then, as the wine settle onto the palate, it reveals a plush, crushed velvet feel. Soft tannins and a medium acidity contribute to the elegant overall feel.

Taste – Bold and dark, with overripe blackberry, black cherry and dark plum out in front. As the wine breaths and opens up, lush flavors of chocolate, kola nut, dried violets, bramble and dark strawberry are revealed. At the very end, black pepper and brown spice emerge.

Finish – Dark flavors go on and on for a long time, ultimately yielding to soft spice and black pepper.

Conclusion – Our affection for Peterson wines continues with this extraordinary follow up to their most popular Zinfandel. We’ve been reluctant to even sample 2009s, thinking that most are still too young. This wine is ready to go, and it will only continue to improve for the next several years. Personally, I think that I’ll have trouble holding onto this wine!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Jamie Peterson

DATE OF BIRTH: 03/20/1981

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.


AGENT RED: Greetings, Jamie. We are thrilled to be showing your wine today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

JAMIE: It’s always a pleasure, Red.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

JAMIE: It’d be hard to pick one. Growing up with the sights, sounds, and smells of the winery and vineyards, there were many inspirational moments. But I didn’t think I’d be getting into the life of wine as deeply as I have until I worked harvests in 2001 in Australia and New Zealand. Seeing the international wine community and how it ties people together made me decide to come back to the family winery and join full time in 2002.

RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

JAMIE: From my father, growing up in the winery, and being able to learn on the job.

RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

JAMIE: I believe that vineyard and vintage driven wines are the only reason for small wineries to exist. I prefer wines from different vintages to reflect the growing season (otherwise why put the vintage on the bottle?) rather than use additives (acid, tannins, enzymes, gum arabic, overblown new oak) or technological processes (filtration, alcohol removal, micro-oxygenation) to create wines that taste the same each year. I don’t filter or fine our wines, and I predominantly use native yeast fermentations and malo-lactics, so we have to keep things clean and monitor closely, as we don’t choose to use the tools for fixing mistakes that some wineries do. We source from the same vineyards each year, so there is a thread of continuity running through vintages. Our vineyards are sustainably farmed, with a few certified organic, and a number of others dry-farmed.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

JAMIE: I’m inspired by European vintners who have made wines from the same places for generations, and haven’t succumbed to commercialism.

RED: How long have you been making wine?

JAMIE: 2002 was my first full year of working with wines from grape to bottle. 2000 was the first full harvest I worked with my father. At 28, I have 12 harvests under my belt (including working in both Australia and New Zealand in 2001).

RED: Who do you make wine for?

JAMIE: I make wines for my own tastes, and then we find enough people that share our ideas to buy it. We don’t submit our wines for scoring or competitions.

RED: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Valley so special?

JAMIE: The Dry Creek Valley is a special place to grow grapes because of the amount of different types of quality terrain for growing a variety of varietals. From the Eastern bench to the Western hills and mountains, the range of soils and exposures lends itself to the diversity of wines we like to make.

RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

JAMIE: Realize that winemaking is both simple and complicated. It’s all just fermented grape juice, but it’s all about the details; every minute little thing you do or don’t do to the grapes or wine will affect how it turns out.

RED: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

JAMIE: I like to go mushroom hunting (for chanterelles and porcini), even though as a teenager I accidently picked and ate Death Cap mushrooms.

RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

JAMIE: Zinfandel is the wine I seem to open the most often of our own, but I also drink a lot of Rhone wines, and wines from the Ventoux.

RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

JAMIE: So many people look for the “best” wine. I always ask them “best for what?” Every wine has a place and time for appreciating (unless it just is a wine that really sucks…), and it’s more important for people to figure out what types of wine they like, and why, than what others think is the best. Trust your own palate rather than what a critic or others say.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

JAMIE: Thanks for having me, and for appreciating and selling our wines!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

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

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

About This Wine:

Since we produce several Zins, we ofer a range of styles and favor profles for Zin lovers. Our Bernier Zin we refer to as the Pinot-lover’s Zin, with its understated aromas and nuanced favors. Aromatics of subtle blackberry, spicy plum and a mineral essence are tightly wound, but loosen when allowed to breathe. Elegant and integrated, the palate offers soft dark tones with rich plum and dark cherry at the core. The lingering finish reveals cola, black pepper, mixed berries and a touch of mocha.

Try this smooth number with chicken breasts and veggies tossed with pasta, fresh herbs and olive oil, or grilled duck.

Zinyard Notes: Why call it a Zinyard? Orginally Paul and Yael Bernier planted only Zinfandel on the hillside behind their house of of Canyon Road in northern Dry Creek Valley. Like many of the early Italian immigrant growers, they planted a small block of Petite Sirah alongside the Zin.

Although the Zinfandel vines were planted in 1990, the Bernier Zinyard makes old-time growers feel they are walking into the past when they stroll among the vines. It is a traditional dry-farmed, head-trained (non-trellised) vineyard with Italo Sbragio’s old clone Zin grafted on to St. George rootstock. Tat combination embodies the very roots of Dry Creek Valley viticulture and refects Peterson Winery’s values of savoring and embracing time-honored traditions.

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: 100% Bernier Zinyard

Varietal Breakdown: 90% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Sirah

Harvest Dates: September 2009

Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County

Alcohol: 13.9%

pH: 3.71

TA: 0.64g/100ml

Barrel Aging: 17 months

Types of Oak: 10% new American oak barrels, 90% 4-8 year-old French oak barrels

Bottling Date: March 9 2011 (unfined & unfiltered)

Production: 225 cases

Release Date: October 2011

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