Packs A Wallop - And A Smile

Review: 2006 Story Zinfandel Shenandoah Valley Picnic Hill Vineyard

Rating: Instantly loveable, expressive Zin.  Balanced, seamless...and potent. $25

The Rest of the Story: (Disclaimer: This wine was received as a press sample from the winery.)  About 50 miles east of Sacramento, in what looks like the middle of nowhere on Google Maps, sits the small hamlet of Plymouth.  Nestled against the Sierra Foothills in the Shenandoah Valley, this is Zinfandel country...

Bruce & Jan Tichenor, owners of Story Winery, grow mostly Zin on their property just north of town.  They were kind enough to send us a sample of their unique Picnic Hill Zin.  And we're glad they did.

Though the bottle label looks like it might've been generated on a laser printer, don't be deceived.  This is real a wine.  In the glass it looks almost Italian in the glass, with a slight brick tone.  Though not as translucent, it's about the same color as a lot of older Chiantis.  The nose evolves quickly right out of the gate with big expressions fueled by the 16% ABV.

Despite the lighter color, it's got great flavor extraction - more red fruit than dark, black fruit - and manages to be very balanced.  The texture is seamless and not a hard edge on it, though it does have a great tannic bite suggesting some longevity.  The bit of heat on the finish is no surprise considering the alcohol, which, if it turned out to be higher than the marked 16%, wouldn't be surprising.  This one sneaks up on you.

You won't find this one on your local market shelves, but you will find it at and on the Story Winery website - get this - at

Bottom line - Not your typical Zin, but a wine the Tichenors must be proud of.