Varozza Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley

According to the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley, which grows only 4% of California wine, is surprisingly still 95% family owned. There remains a small number of those families that are Napa Valley originals. The Varozzas are one of those. Jack and Diana Varozza run the same ranch that goes back to Napa’s earliest days in the 1800s and has been in their family for over a century–Jack being the grandson of Joseph Varozza and son of Harold Varozza–who worked the ranch over their lifetimes.

The Varozza Ranch is an iconic St. Helena landmark featuring an old wood and stone winery that dates back to the days when stonemasons and craftsmen built the original winery for Emil Zange in 1885. Joseph Varozza, who was a St. Helena blacksmith, purchased the property in 1913 and made wine there until his death in 1946. This beautiful property has remained in the Varozza family for the past 100 years! For decades, Harold Varozza operated the ranch after his father passed, selling the grapes to local wineries. In 1999 Harold’s son Jack and Jack’s wife Dianna took over the ranch and now produce estate grown wines under their own label, Varozza Vineyards. In 2007, an agreement was worked out for Biale to make the Zinfandel from their vineyard.

In the exact heart of Napa Valley just north of St. Helena on Pratt Avenue and next to the restored old winery, this is an ideal spot for growing grapes–especially Zinfandel. There is a patch of classic head-trained Zinfandel vines that, heading south, connects to a younger block of trellised vines. Planted on stony, alluvial soils between York Creek and the Napa River, the old and younger vines here produce wines that are a little darker with more black fruit than typical of St. Helena with great textural feel and firm structure.