For worshipers of old vine wines, a trip out to Deaver Vineyards in Amador County is more like a pilgrimage to a sacred Zinfandel shrine.
Ken Deaver, whose great grandfathers, Jacob Davis and John Deaver, were pioneering founders of Shenandoah Valley, gets double braggin’ rights: first, as the steward of some of the very oldest vines in California, and second, as a successor in one of the oldest family trees in California wine – a direct descendant of Gold Rush pioneers. And an amazing fact to ponder – many old original Deaver family vines dating back to the 1860’s are still here and thriving. There are Mission grapes here that were planted by Jacob Davis in the 1850’s for gosh sakes. Something like a godfather for winemakers, Ken Deaver’s grapes have been coveted by many a winery over the decades and because of the reputation for quality and character, cuttings from Deaver vines have been used to plant numerous new Zinfandel vineyards throughout Amador County. Most of Amador Zin is planted to the “Deaver clone”.
In addition to selling grapes to winemakers, the Deavers began making wines of their own in 1986 and the historic Deaver ranch on Steiner Road exudes a wine country ranching vibe. Picnicking by the pond is welcome and you can even arrange a stay-over at the family’s lovely Amador Harvest Inn.
Over at the tasting room and gift shop, be sure to take time here to savor and secure bottles of the four Deaver Zinfandels, especially the Circa 1860’s Old Vine Zinfandel. And if you’ve never had a “late harvest” version of Zinfandel, be sure to give it a go here. Like most Zin-lovers, you’ll be stunned by the big rich wine’s heady fruit – an ideal accompaniment to cheeses and fruity desserts. The Deaver Vineyards’ wines are almost entirely from the estate vineyards and small in quantity, so it’s best to secure your cellar stash while you’re there!