When you settle into your seat on the back porch of the Biale winery in Napa Valley, you, like most folks, won’t be in any rush to leave!
Perfecting the old California classics, Robert Biale Vineyards, was founded in a garage by four partners in 1991: Bob Biale, Dave Pramuk, Al Perry, and Aldo Biale. Today the winery has become a respected standard of heritage vineyard Zinfandel and Petite Sirah in Napa Valley. From the wineries’ inception, the Biale Founders cherished the tradition of historic old vines and prize the small quantity of concentrated and intense fruit that they produce. Diligent farming, expressive terroir, and superb elegance are the winery’s hallmarks. Among the winery’s portfolio of 20 wines, Black Chicken Zinfandel is the flagship–and has become one of the benchmarks for the varietal. And who doesn’t love the great old story?
It all started in the 1940s when 14-year-old Aldo Biale helped his mother to make ends meet by selling to insider Napans–along with eggs and produce–some of the family’s homemade Zinfandel. Over the old “party line” phone system, the code words “a Black Chicken” signified a jug of bootleg wine…and kept nosy neighbors and the authorities from finding out about Aldo’s underground Zinfandel operation! Robert Biale, who was raised among his family’s vines, works closely with other growers in Napa and Sonoma to source Zinfandel from rare old vineyards, and in a few cases, newer vineyards that carry on the tradition and genetic heritage of the old vines.
A visit to the Biale winery in Napa is unusual in that there is no Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay on the premises – in a valley that is so identified with both varietals! Instead, enjoy a flight of Biale heritage vineyards wines on the winery porch next to the winery vineyards, and take in the sweeping “Valley Vista” where you can see six of Napa Valley’s 16 sub appellations. Relaxed, fun, and enlightening, the Biale tastings convert so many Napa visitors to the joys of Zinfandel grown on great vineyard sites.