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Ancient Cellars

Ancient Cellars 2012 Otac Zinfandel

Blending science and art

Chris Baker is a hard-core scientist. A food scientist to be exact. Between jobs at the Department of Agriculture, he thought he’d work a harvest to see what all the fuss was about. One vintage, and he was hooked.

During his second harvest, a load of grapes became available that didn’t have a home. Right then and there, he and his brother Craig started Ancient Cellars.

Ancient Cellars is produced at 12th & Maple Wine Co., where Chris now serves as director of winemaking. 12th & Maple is a custom crush facility, providing winemakers for folks who have grapes. Not as common in the Willamette Valley, custom crush is very common in Southern Oregon where there are more farmers than winemakers.

With 14 wineries under one roof, Chris has his hands in a lot of Oregon wine. In particular, he loves helping up-and-comers, folks just starting up and need help getting their feet wet in winemaking (sometimes literally!) With Ancient Cellars, he’s able to shepherd his own wine all the way from field to table.

Ancient Cellars

Cellar 503 Tasting Notes

Ancient Cellars, Dundee, Oregon
2012 Otac Zinfandel

Chris and Craig wanted to make a wine to honor their father. What better way than by making their own Ancient Cellars edition of the wine he loved, Zinfandel.

Now, you might think of Zinfandel as a California grape. And you’d be right – sort of. The history of Zinfandel was shrouded in mystery for a long time. It’s very similar to the Italian Primitivo, but which is the descendant of the other? As it turns out, neither.

Zinfandel and Primitivo are both descended from an ancient Croatian grape, Crljenak Kaštelanski, fact only discovered through DNA testing in the 1990s on a single row of vines found in a grandmother’s backyard in Croatia.

So, Chris and Craig named their Zinfandel “Otac”, the Croatian word for “father”. Perfect.

Overripe plums, blackberries and black licorice jump out at you when you first open the bottle. On the palate you’ll taste dark, sweet, ripe fruit and bitter chocolate all with a hint of pepper and spicy oak. This is a gorgeously complex red wine that will be an amazing complement to any summer barbecue.

A Cellar 503 selection in July 2019, Summer Party Wines Columbia Valley | Zinfandel