Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Renwood Stretches Its Wings

For nearly a year, the new owners of Renwood Winery in Amador County's Shenandoah Valley have remained pretty mum on their plans for the site. Early on, however, they did indicate that they would continue Renwood's long commitment to vineyard-designated zinfandels.

They didn't indicate, however, that they'd be going to at least one region far from the foothills for zinfandel, nor that their plans to raise the varietal's stature would involve selling it for $100 a bottle.

The cat slipped out of the bag, however, at Friday's El Dorado County Fair commercial wine competition in Placerville. Two of the four wines up for best red wine in one of the final rounds of the voting turned out to be a Renwood zinfandel. When the bottles were unveiled, the Renwood bore a handsome new label, but more provocative was the appellation on the label: Dry Creek Valley, which is in Sonoma County. Up to now, Renwood, as far as I can recall, has relied on fruit from the Sierra Foothills, Amador County in particular. Even more startling was the suggested retail price of the wine, $100, according to fair officials.

Jamie Lubenko, Renwood's newly hired marketing and communications director, confirms that the winery's expanding lineup includes "a few Dry Creek designates." She adds: "And yes, we do have wines in our portfolio that will retail near $100." Renwood's new package and new wines won't be released until June or July, to be followed by a new tasting room in August. Despite the allure of Dry Creek Valley zinfandel, Renwood, noted Lubenko, isn't retreating from its focus on Amador County grapes. "I will briefly say that we are extremely committed to this region and Renwood’s future as a premier zinfandel house."

At El Dorado, the ripe, juicy and rigid Renwood 2010 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel lost out in voting for best red wine to the spirited and complex Thomas Coyne Winery 2010 California Quest, a proprietary blend that included such traditional Rhone Valley varieties as grenache, mourvedre and syrah. Quest, which sells for a suggested retail price of $15, went on to be named the competition's overall best wine.

About a year ago, Ren Acquisition Inc., a privately held company chaired by Alejandro Pedro Bulgheroni, an Argentine whose wealth was built largely on oil and gas exploitation, purchased Renwood for about $7 million.


  1. $100 for a zin?, much less a Renwood Zin? (I had to check my calendar to make sure it's not April 1st).
    This is a winery that makes some rather good wine (the Grandmere and Granpere) but nothing outstanding. I'm sure Señor Bulgheroni would like a return on his investment as soon as possible but I don't see anyone paying that amount when such great zinfandels as Brown Estate and Renquist can be had for less than half Renwood's asking price.
    Sorry to sound like a typical "Varietal-ist" but a new line of zinfandels is hardly on par with Bordeaux, Burgundy, or upper-end Cab Sav & Pinot Noir.

    Thank you for a balanced article that neither mocked nor overly praised their effort.
    But Damn!, a $100 zinfandel?

  2. So at El Dorado one can enter a Sonoma Zin?

    And who made this wine? Did Crippen under the old ownership? Inquiring minds...


  3. Brian, the El Dorado County Fair commercial wine competition is open to any winery with an annual production not to exceed 20,000 cases. As to who made the wine, I don't yet know; Renwood hasn't yet actually released the wine, but no doubt entered it in at least one competition in hopes of acclaim that ultimately would spur sales. My hunch is that it's a wine bought on the bulk market, made by someone else, and now being marketed under the Renwood label.

  4. Renwood Winery’s new ownership has the goal of being the best producer of Zinfandel in the world. Renwood’s commitment to quality Zinfandel is ongoing. Sourcing from other regions, known for renowned Zinfandel vineyards, will be a part of our winemaking strategy going forward. However, increasing the stature of Amador wines and the quality of the grapes is our critical focus. Our winemaking team is still headed by Dave Crippen who has worked with Amador grapes for nine years. All of the 2010 wines were vinted under his supervision and expertise.

  5. I love renwood and their wine but am not a fan of the new label... boring and understated. The old label was so much better!

  6. Renwood wine just isn't what it used to be - and good luck getting that price when there are so many better wines!