Old Kraft Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley

Franz Kraft was a prominent winemaker in the earliest days of St. Helena in the period around 1860. His vineyards and winery were on the west side of town on Madrona Avenue. The iconic old native stone winery is now a cellar for the acclaimed Spottswoode Winery and most of the original old vineyards have been replaced–except for an old patch to the north of the winery that is part of the family estate of Bill and Margie Hart.

Instead of tearing out the original Zinfandel and Petite Sirah vines that were planted in the 1890s, Bill and Margie decided to go with the recommendation of vineyard guru Bill Pease, who saw potential in the craggy, twisted plants. Bob Biale was brought in to assist and a project ensued to revitalize this rare swath of winemaking history. Bill and Margie agreed to sell all the fruit to Biale with the hope of one day being able to vinify and vineyard-designate this historic wine. Starting in 2002, drainage, irrigation, soil amendments, pruning, and inter- planting were utilized to bring the vineyard back to productive health. Finally, the hard work paid off and in 2006, the wine had progressed to the point of being worthy as a new special bottling among the series of Biale Zinfandels.