Alexander Vally produces awesome Zinfandels and Stryker Winery is producing some of my favorite. Stryker is the only wine-club I've ever joined, and its benefits have been well-worth it, particularly its members only parties. I never thought I could afford a wine-club, but as it turns out, shipping is the bulk of the cost. If you live near wine country, you can skip the shipment and instead have a day in wine-country while picking up your order. Last weekend my girlfriend and I arrived to Stryker's "Zinternship" with some friends. The Zinternship was more than I had expected.
When we arrived, Stryker was pouring their newly released Zinfandels: the 2006 Speedy-Creek Zinfandel, the 2006 Patty's Patch Zinfandel, the 2006 Monte Rosso Zinfanel, and the 2006 "OZ" Zinfandel. They also had two Cabernet Sauvignons, their Speedy-Creek Vineyard and their Rockpile Vineyard, and a Chardonnay. I can't remember the details on the Chardonnay, but I do remember what it tasted like: no oak, lots of grapefruit and petrol.
Stryker provided an all-you-can-eat taco bar and they also scheduled a wine quiz to help us learn more about California wine and their winery. I learned that Stryker produces 7,500 cases of wine, has 150 acres of vineyards on their estate, and that the barrels they use hold sixty gallons. I also learned that the first grape variety or vine planted in California was the Mission grape, so-called because the missionaries who moved in to California in the late 1700's. The true identity of the grape is still a mystery. Another interesting fact about Mission vines is that when they are bred with other Mission grapes, the result is almost always another Mission vine. While this sounds obvious, almost all other varieties of domestic grapes will not do this.
The true highlight of the day was the wine-stomping competition; it was as messy as it was fun (photo story to be published imminently). Two half barrels were filled with grapes and fitted with spouts. Contestants rolled up their pants, took off their shoes, and stomped like mad while their partners kept the spouts clear of stems. Partners also used their shoulders to support the unsteady stompers. Almost everyone took part in the event. I wondered if they were really going to use the grape juice for wine, but of course they poured it down the drain.