Trail Marker Wine Company Zeigelt


It’s especially fun for me to run into something that I haven’t before.  In this case, a Zeigelt-a German wine grape that’s the base of many blends there, but hardly known here. This one offers more dichotomy than that though, it’s grown in Lodi (admittedly warm) and brought to you by Trail Marker Wine Company and winemaker Drew Huffine, who is interested in cooler climates.  How they come together is a fascinating look at the wine industry and what’s possible when someone is willing to think outside the box.

Video Transcription:

Hi guys, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. So I’m going to let you see the label here, so this is a Trail Marker wine. So Trail Marker is the personal label for a wine maker named Drew Huffine. And Drew, aside from being a Santa Barbara guy like myself, also makes the wine at Roessler Vineyards or R2 Wine Company depending on who you ask and how they tame it. So Drew’s kind of somebody who came into wine making as a second career, like so many of the folks that we work with. He has a PhD in English. He taught English at city colleges around Los Angeles, and ended up taking a part-time job at a wine store where he met a winemaker and the winemaker eventually after a little bit of pestering, it sounds like, invited Drew up to work a harvest up in Sonoma.

Trail Marker Wine Company Zeigelt Front LabelSo that’s kind of how it all started. We’re going to upload a few little, we have kind of new slide project happening here, which is Wine Maker Interview Series, and so you’ll get to see some of Drew talking here in a little bit too, which I think is kind of fun.

So I think, one of the things I’ve talked about in Sonoma there’s this sea of Chardonnay and Pinot, and there’s at Trail Marker he does make Chardonnay and Pinot, but he also does a range of German varietals, some of which I never had nor really heard of. So this is Zweigelt and you’ll have to excuse my pronunciation, that’s just never something I’m going to get right 100% of the time. So I’ll hold this up again so you can see how utterly dark that is, and if you actually even look at the bottle, you can see that it even stains the side of the bottle as it comes out.

One of the things that Drew expressed was that when he first saw this grape growing, he thought it was going to be this tannic beast that you couldn’t make into wine, at least not the type of wine that he wanted to make with his label. The thing is, this is actually really acidic and pretty white in the palate. So it’s kind of interesting, as folks come into a crowded wine scene they often try to branch out a little bit and that’s something we saw happen here with Trail Marker into a couple of German varietals. They’re actually grown in Lodi. He kind of joked that it was a cooler section of Lodi, since he deals mainly with cooler varietals, but the fact of the matter is, is that sometimes a cooler weather grape growing in a warmer site can lead to lower tannins because they’re getting picked earlier.

Trail Marker Wine Company Zeigelt Side LabelSo I think that’s a little bit of what’s happening here. I also think it’s a little bit of winemaker choice going in, he definitely does prefer his stuff to be more acidic as opposed to tannic driven. I think if you can find one of the thousand or so cases that he makes total across six or seven wines, you’ll be happy with what you found from Trail Marker. And we’ll have some more information on Drew and Trail Marker, and probably have a Pinot or something a little more interesting in upcoming Wine of the Month Club shipment.

Once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures. Hope everybody’s having a good one.

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