A few weeks ago I shared some news in my weekly Dear Wine Friend e-newsletter that I’m still struggling with:
Wine News: I recently learned that longtime Del Dotto winemaker Gerard Zanzonico is moving off to Ensenada, where he has already been making wine, and moving into the role of consulting winemaker for Del Dotto. While Gerard holds a permanent place in my heart as one of the first winemakers I’ve interviewed, and continue to interview every year or so, I do understand that winemakers have to retire like everyone else. He’s invited Eddie and me down to his home to work on his memoirs – we’ve joked about doing this for years – so at least it’s not goodbye just yet. #SadFace
So, long story short (if possible!) I reached out to Gerard to find out more about his work in Ensenada. I learned that he’s been making wines for MD Vinos, and already has four years under his belt as a Baja California winemaker. What seemed like a shock was already experienced territory for Gerard, he’d obviously had four years to get used to the idea.
“Not retiring but changing directions…I will have my own brand Zanzonico Wines and consult for MD vinos in Ensenada…(making) probably two more wines (for them).”
Loving the sound of Zanzonico Wines I pressed Gerard for more info. He would be making a Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Nebbiolo. About 1,000 cases in total so he could “still have fun.”
Gerard and his wife Patricia “bought a nice place looking over the ocean just north of Ensenada (with a) separate Casita” for my husband and me to get “comfortable” in once they are settled, and have a full tasting and tour of the Guadalupe Valley. Gerard said we “would love the experience.” Well this invitation did soften the blow of him leaving Napa!
Over the years I’d learned a lot about Gerard, with him starting his career as a cellar rat at Chateau Montelena during the Judgment of Paris. I remember asking him what it was like, after the tasting brought such fame to the winery and he said – and I’ll never forget – “We were too busy working hard and having fun to notice!” (Here was one of the reasons I love to visit Gerard. He may be at one of the most amazing properties in the Napa Valley, hosting club members with tastings, dinners and bungalow visits – but he was just so down to earth and natural to be with.) It was with that one sentence that I knew Gerard had a story to tell, and we’ve been chatting for years about him doing just that. Looks like he’s been working on drafts of his story in Ensenada, and “with your help maybe can finish it off.”
As far as what will change at Del Dotto Vineyards, I learned that Robbie Meyer will take over the day-to-day winemaking duties though Gerard will come in every three months for two weeks at a time, for at least three to four more years. I look forward to meeting Meyer and tasting with him at some point in the future.
So, that about covers it. Except that over the past ten years or so we had several tastings, these are the articles I could still find on the Internet, though I know there are more. If you are interested in learning about Gerard I suggest you take a peek:
March 2012 Elite Magazine: The Unique Beauty of Napa
October 2013: This is What We Chose and Why – The Upcoming Napa Trip
October 2014: Visiting ZD and Drive By Del Dotto
September 2017: Napa 2017 After The Fires: Del Dotto
Lastly, from Gerard, “Thanks for all your support over the years…many fond memories of tasting, sorting and being together. Always loved the photo of us walking into the cellar at Del Dotto…Gerard.”
So, Ensenada anyone?
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com