by Fred McMillin
for March 26, 1998

Deaver? Yessir!


John J. Davis, Indiana cooper [barrel maker], arrived in the Sierra Foothills in 1852. In one lucky week he found 85 ounces of gold. By 1859 he gave up mining and started growing grapes in Amador County. Later, the "Amador Ledger" would write, "This week we received from J.J. Davis a fine box of grapes grown on his ranch. He did not get here in Jackson last year, but will make several trips this year with grapes." Some of his vines are still alive and well in the 1990's and are used to produce Zinfandel at the Deaver Vineyards. Eric Costa in "Old Vines, A History of Winegrowing in Amador County," Cenotto Publications, Jackson, CA.

In 1965 Prof. Charles Myers noticed the Deaver Zinfandel grapes were different from those of the irrigated Central Valley. with no irrigation, the Deaver vines planted in 1890 and earlier, yielded very loose bunches of small berries. So he and Bob Trinchero (Sutter Home) made monumental Zinfandels from them that created a sensation.

...from the "Fine Wine Folio," Vol. 2, #9.

The Rest of the Story

Those Deaver Vineyard Zinfandels of the late 1960's established the vineyard's reputation, and they've had no problem selling all their grapes ever since. Happily, 13 years ago Ken Deaver started marketing a small volume of Deaver Zinfandel...he feels the "area grows perfect grapes for making a full-bodied red wine." If you want to try one of California's landmark Zins, phone or FAX Jeanie Deaver at (209) 245-6661.

The Wine

'94 Zinfandel, Amador County
Deaver Vineyards, Plymouth, CA.
Tasting Notes—Pow! Rich berries with 14.5% alcohol...pasta, beef, Stilton cheese.
Rating—My 15 tasters gave it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Phone or FAX—(209) 245-6661.
Price—Fine value at $13.


The first Deaver vines were planted for the thirsty-miner market in 1852. For more, see the March 26,1997 WineDay, "A Wine You Can't Buy?"

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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