1991, The Phoenix Vintage
1992, The Pre Nuptial Vintage
1993, The Hang Time Vintage
1994, The Queen's Vintage
1995, The French Connection
1996, The Family Connection
1997, The Team Connection
1998, The Obsidian Effect
1999, The Solar Factor
2000, Why 2k Zin
2001, The Cork Report
2002, Platinum Anniversary
2003, Papa's Vintage
2004, Echo Vintage
2005, Vintage Vintage
2006, Serendipity Vintage
2007, YeeHaw Vintage
2008, Frosty Vintage
2009, The Abundant Vintage
2010, Middle-Aged Vine Zinfandel
2011, The Pupil Vintage
2012, The Diamond Anniversary
2013, The Smile Vintage
2014, The Earthquake Vintage
2015, The Fire Storm
The 21st of October, 1991, will be seared in my memory for the rest of my life. I was driving back to my home in Oakland after finishing my ninth harvest and crush. I had run out of clean clothes and was covered with red dirt and zinfandel juice, as were my two Weimaraners. I was exhausted. While driving the seventy-five miles I had been listening to tapes of Mozart and Chopin trying to relax and had not heard the news. The freeway from Napa Valley skirts the East shoreline of San Francisco Bay. The sky was stark blue, the clouds blown away by a hot and powerful Santa Ana wind. A turn on I-80 and the Berkeley-Oakland hills emerged high over my left shoulder - I would be home in another 20 minutes. I looked up at the hills I had loved as a child and was stunned to see groves of eucalyptus trees bursting into towering orange flames from the ridge to the canyon behind the old Claremont Hotel.
I pulled into the parking lot of the Holiday Inn at the bay's edge, grabbed my video equipment and went to the roof of the building. From that vista I zoomed my lens to the center of the inferno; houses all along the canyon exploded sending burning embers in the swirling winds to roofs blocks away. While I filmed in disbelief a brown cloud mushroomed above the growing fire, quickly blocking out the noontime sun. Within forty minutes the wind shifted more to the South towards my own home not more than three miles away. Suddenly conscious that I might become a victim in this disaster I raced to a pay phone in the lobby and called my neighbors who cried at that minute they were being evacuated and the area was now cordoned off by the police.
As alone as I have ever felt, I walked over to the registration desk and was given a room where I was allowed to bring my two dogs. I watched the television coverage of the firestorm that engulfed over 3,000 hillside homes, killed 25, and left 8,000 scattered. The sky was dark with smoke and the brick sun sunk over the Golden Gate. The fire burned on into the late night. Friends in the police department said they would go by my home and tell me of its condition. The next night, after a day looking for bodies, they called to say my house was completely gone. The fire department said the melted glass indicated a temperature of 2,400 degrees. My written history, 50 years of camera negatives, family heirlooms, and untold memories were cremated.
But 1991 became my year of the Phoenix. From the shards and ashes I am rebuilding next to my winery on Howell Mountain, 2,200 feet above the floor of Napa Valley. 1991 is one of my greatest zinfandel vintages and it celebrates a starting over, a new beginning.
I had courted Janet for three years when my home was destroyed in the Oakland Hills Fire of 1991. As if ordained, I was driven to rebuild at the vineyard in Napa seventy-five miles to the North. I did not want to build nor live alone. I wanted to share the highs and lows of farming grapes, making wine, watching the fog burn off the valley 2,200 feet below my volcanic plateau and the sun set behind the black pines.
We both had loving children and grandchildren but were barren of the closeness and intimacy that fuels joy and such simple tasks as getting up each morning.
We stood at the end of the drive where our vineyard plunged away to the valley below and realized the importance of our friendship. We agreed to join in a stewardship of this twenty-some-acres of vineyard and forest which vibrate in the early morning with the magic sounds of gentle primitive beginnings.
The mundane required that she continue to administrate for a mega-case winery while I, collecting a monthly social security stipend, disked and tilled the earth, pruned the nine acres of Zinfandel, sulfured, weeded, trained vines, and ultimately called her, "Janet, the vines are ready to give birth; I need your help." It was time to harvest. It was a collective effort. Her children and their children joined mine and theirs. College grandsons brought their college sweethearts and two-year-olds were kept out of the way of tractors pulling gondolas.
This vintage came together with crazy energy; mistakes of logistics and management and peanut butter sandwiches. My dearest friend became my fiancee amidst the excitement and confusion. The 1992 vintage may or may not be remembered as a bench mark for Howell Mountain Zinfandel, but it was certainly the beginning of a new life for two people who have committed themselves to each other, their new joint clan and the making of a memorable wine that you can enjoy now and hope it lasts forever.
The basketball player talks about Hang Time, wind surfers talk about Hang Time and cattle rustlers take about Hang Time in hushed tones.
Among serious vintners Hang Time is also momentous. It is a rare, almost divine experience. It relates to the length of time the fruit "hangs" on the vine before it is picked. It is extremely desirable when the growing conditions allow the fruit to reach absolute maturity. This requires unusual assistance from Mother Nature. In 1993 this unpredictable lady started out the season with heavy May rains that had a punishing effect on fruit set at bloom time. As a result yields were down for most varieties from 30-40%.
Hang Time occurs when a growing season has been extended by mild temperatures and the absence of rain and the berries are allowed to gradually, evenly ripen. This condition consistently produces a more complex, deep and complete wine.
Our nine-acre vineyard at 2,200 feet above the Valley floor has been harvested as early as August 25th, but more consistently in the first half of September. The 1993 torrential winter and spring rain in Napa, while destructive, was a temporary reprieve from California's continuing drought. The vine canopy was verdant and the grapes robust.
Except for a few scorching days scattered across the season they were gently warm. Our mountain nights are always about fifteen degrees warmer than the valley floor where sugars have a tendency to back out of the fruit in the chill of the evening.
We were still taking sugar samples when October, with its pumpkins and harvest moon, came into view. It was the second week before we started picking, bringing in the last of the fruit on the 10th of October.
Golden oak leaves were falling on the crush pad as we pressed the last ton of grapes and pumped the opulent young wine into our sixty gallon oak cooperage. It was suddenly football weather. Fall had arrived. We had been blessed with an extraordinary Hang Time, a prerequisite for making extraordinary wine.
Our vineyard is dry farmed, meaning its only source of water is that held in the soil.
As the one responsible for the vineyard, and subsequently the wine, I must depend on a humble piece of equipment that few, apart from growers, know exists.
After discing it is vital to seal the newly tilled earth to prevent the evaporation of the moisture that the vines require. To do this we tow behind the tractor a variety of implements: a log chained to the tractor's hitch, a length of steel beam, old truck tires tied together; anything to break and smooth the dirt clods.
I tried them all and decided on dragging a sled of three slabs of heavy steel plate all slanted to approach the rough dirt as a skier racing down a slope of bumpy snow. It left the cultivated dirt as smooth as a chocolate billiard table. The surface quickly dried, like a sidewalk in the sun, and locked in the earth's moisture for the balance of the growing season.
The simple tool became the assurance that my farmed vineyard would have sub-surface moisture for the dry summer months. It was to some observers just another variation of a drag, so heavy it could only be moved with a fork lift, but for me it was the Queen of my equipment shed.
Our little winery has always boasted a super purist approach to making Zinfandel, insisting on 100% fruit from our own vineyard, 100% varietal, and 100% of the vintage. We have always believed, by taste and word, that the spicy, peppery characteristics of our wine were enhanced by the unique flavor extraction from American oak barrel aging.
I am neither a Francophile, a Francophobe, nor a Francophone. However, I have always associated French cooperage with the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy and their American counterparts. I have been guilty of believing that Zinfandel was indigenously a Yankee Doodle varietal and had a natural affinity for native Kentucky air-dried oak.
I always associated again wine in French oak with being sensitive to Maurice Chevalier's singing, or dating a woman who wore Chanel perfume, or cuisine that left you hungry for a hamburger or driving a Citroca. Zinfandel aged in American grown and made oak barrels seemed to imply masculine stuff like Porterhouse steaks, off road 4x4's, the thumping of an idling Harley, a big dog that slept at the foot of your bed and snored.
Believe me, I haven't changed my male beliefs. I'd still take a Kubota tractor over a Jag soft top any day. But this 1995 vintage, with its fair share of new Bordeaux wood, is the sexiest wine I have ever made. It is designed to appeal to both sexes.
This vintage inaugurates the passing of the baton from one generation to the next, from father to the oldest son.
It was twenty-five years ago that Michael and his adopted young brothers and sister, Rob, Don, Cary, Nancy, and Tom, joined me to tame our 25 acre plateau 2,200' above the floor of the Napa Valley. We planted 5,000 vines in the red soil and bottled our first 100 cases in 1982.
The onetime kids are now all wonderfully developed adults and I am an advanced septuagenarian who is bone weary from discing and suckering, cleaning tanks and rolling barrels.
Janet and I are moving to St. Helena where we can ride our bicycles to church and have our 17 grandchildren visit us one at a time. We will become senior consultants to the new Lamborn Family Wine Company.
The reins are now held in Michael's capable hands and the clan will remain at his side sharing with him and his helping wife, Terry, the labor and unexplainable joy of continuing the growing and making of our family wine.
The 14th vintage is passed on to the next generation.
We enjoy the pride and recognition of having our family name prominently displayed on each and every bottle of our wine. Each year we expand our knowledge of grape growing and winemaking, but depend on the expertise of our talented team to bring it together.
We have selected this vintage to recognize the real power behind the product and naturally it starts in the vineyard. Our viticulture consultant is Ben Henry who was responsible for the planting of the Opus One vineyards. He assists us in navigating through the uniqueness of each growing season and in focusing on our goal... the very best fruit possible.
Hands-on in the vineyard, growing the quintessential grape, are Ramon Paniagua and his family. They have nurtured our vines from winter pruning to fall harvest with skill and dedication, for over nine years.
Once the fruit has reached its rich potential it is carefully taken from the vine and gently placed into the magic hands of Heidi Petersen Barrett. With her experince, knowledge and attention to detail the resulting wine's potential is unlimited.
It is at the state-of-the-art Napa Wine Company, where we are an alternating proprietor and have our tasting room, that Heidi guides our fruit to its final destination - the bottle.
Each of us depends on our abilities of our teammates. Our combined efforts and talents come together to create a super premium Zinfandel from the coveted Howell Mountain Appellation.
While the Lamborn Family puts its imprint on thie entire process, the ultimate success of our wine is always a Team Connection.
Obsidian, named for its supposed discoverer, Obsius, is a natural glass formed deep beneath the earth's surface, super heated and discharged by volcanic activity. The grapes of Howell Mountain are indeed affected by the mountain's historic volcanic beginnings. These influences are many: the altitude which greatly impacts the temperatures, the scarcity of water, and sunlight exposure. The soils, their mineral content, drainage, and depth all result from the volcano.
The Obsidian Effect doesn't end there. At the foot of Howell Mountain lies a major obsidian deposit that for centuries played an important role in the lives of Napa Valley's indigenous people, commonly known by their Spaniard name of Wappo. This high quality obsidian quarry provided the raw materials for spear points, arrowheads, and tools common to Native Americans. Stories of this very same obsidian being found at campsite excavations hundreds of miles from Napa Valley suggest the material's value for trading.
While working the red volcanic soils of our mountain-top vineyard, it is not unusual to discover a remnant of Wappo life, an arrow point, a chip, or a shard of obsidian. These artifacts are keen reminders of the history of Howell Mountain, both natural and human.
In some small way we hope our wine, made from the grapes grown in these celebrated soils, will keep alive the memories of those events and people who have gone before.
Surely you get the point!
As we travel along the learning curve of life, grape growers and winemakers alike are making discoveries which we believe add quality to the wines you drink.
During December 1998 we removed our original trellis system which represented cutting edge technology in 1980 but had become a dinosaur in the nineties. Extensive research in Australia and elsewhere has confirmed, to our satisfaction, "It's the sunlight, stupid." Our new trellis system separates the vine canopy at 90 degrees to the daily path of the sun increasing sunlight exposure 100%. Who cares? The grapes do. The entire grape chemistry is improved, particularly color and flavor. Who cares? You do... and so do we!
1999 was a textbook grape growing year from start to finish. We would have had a high quality vintage without the new trellis but with it, this crop is the best we have ever produced. We are raising our wine glasses, toasting the new trellis, and hope you do as well.
We are proud that while living in the awesome shadows of dot.com technology, our latest advancement is based upon a most basic concept - sunshine!
Although the concept of hype or spin is very unfamiliar to folks in the wine business... (we call it marketing) "hype" was the only description for the months leading up to 11:59PM, Friday, December 31, 1999. We had been so thoroughly warned of the impending crisis that many of us canceled plans for travel, purchased extra flashlights, batteries, food, gas for the car and, of course, toilet paper, in preparation. Those "in the know" stashed away enough Zinfandel to last through the crisis. This was a first for Lamborn Zinfandel... disaster relief supplies? We had the TV going because that would be the best way to determine the size and severity of this Y2K disaster. 11:59PM..... 12:00AM.... 12:05AM.... well?
So how did all this hype affect the 2000 vintage? In hindsight, which is anything but a risky view, this vintage was terrific for the Lamborns. Depending on the grape variety and the growing area, the year's overall results were mixed, so we feel blessed. Mother Nature provided us rather normal weather. Following years of the El Nino and La Nina weather patterns, each producing opposite extremes, 2000 was a real La Nada, or "the nothing" for we gringos. As we reflect back upon that infamous New Years Eve, we ask you, Why 2k Zin? On one hand we escaped the threatened "Millennium Meltdown," and on the other hand, this is one darn good Zinfandel.
Talk about a controversial topic! How does a winery keep the wine in the bottle until it is ready to be consumed? A "stopper" of course... but which one? From the earliest days it was the bark of the cork oak tree (try saying that five times) that provided the answer to that pointed question. More recently, we have discovered a random problem associated with the natural corks, whereby a compound usually linked to the cork, ruins the wine, which we sadly describe as "corked." We can all remember the smell of the locker room in our high school gym. Certainly, we wouldn't want to consume, much less pay for, a wine that was reminiscent.
Hey, we live in a modern era, find a replacement for the stupid cork. As time has proven, that's much easier said than done. Screw caps and plastic stoppers do eradicate "corked" wines but create various other dilemmas. Aging problems or off flavors are two such examples that pose a whole new set of quality challenges. Then there is the loss of tradition. Just visualize a highly trained sommelier smelling the screw cap before serving your wine.
In close harmony with our Portuguese cork supplier we personally evaluate representative samples of all our corks in the hope of eliminating this "stinking" problem. Too much love and effort goes into our farming and winemaking to let a small piece of bark "sour" our grapes.
As with each of the many processes, which collectively become this wine, we are continually striving to make it better. We hope this Zinfandel is a party for your palate.
We can hardly believe it has been twenty years since the first Lamborn Zinfandel. But here we are, celebrating with you our 20th Platinum Anniversary.
At first glance Lamborn Zinfandel and this fine metal appear to have nothing in common. So why name this vintage after platinum? Because at second glance, the similarities between these two are quite interesting to both wine drinker and metallurgist alike.
High grade platinum requires many labor-intensive processing steps, not unlinke our Zinfandel. We invest over 2,000 hours each year personally working the vineyard to produce wine grapes of unequaled quality. Heidi Barrett, our winemaker, continues this intensive process in the winery resulting in this high grade wine.
Approximately 8 tons of ore must be mined to produce just one pure ounce of platinum. We begin every vintage with four to five tons of Zinfandel grapes per acre. After meticulous thinning we will harvest two tons or less per acre. Only the very best grapes make it to the bottle.
Platinum is the rarest of precious metals and we hope you'll agree, this is a rare and precious Zinfandel. But while polishing platinum is a slow process requiring many steps, polishing off a glass of Lamborn Zin requires simply one: remove the cork from the bottle... and enjoy! We raise our glasses in thanks to you, our supporters, who are always the final judges of our achievements.
An interesting side note: while China is the traditional gift of the 20th anniversary and Platinum the modern, we found our wine has nothing to do with China, the country or the dinnerware.
Each year, with the ebb and flow of pruning, picking, crush, and bottling, the eventual birth of a new vintage is special to us in one way or another. This bottle of 2003 Lamborn Zinfandel, our 21st vintage, is no exception. We dedicate this vintage to our dearest father, grandfather, husband, best friend, and founder or Lamborn Family Vineyards, Robert Lamborn.
Bob Lamborn, or "Papa" to his family, first purchased his vineyard property on Howell Mountain in 1970. This purchase marked a seminal moment in Papa's life and a turning point for future events for the rest of his family. In 1979, with the help of his son, a handful of nephews, and some hired labor, Papa planted Zinfandel among old, twisted head-pruned vines, remnants from a century-old vineyard planted by Italian immigrants. These developments led to the birth of Lamborn Family Vineyards, an endeavour whose name reflected Papa's ardor for family. Twenty-one vintages later, Papa's viticultural legacy lives on through his son, daughter-in-law, two grandsons, and their growing families.
Papa will be remembered for his love of family and friends, his bright smile, hearty laugh, and his fondness for conversation. For example, Papa was notorious for his trips to the post office. Intending to drop off a single letter, Papa would return home hours later after losing himself in conversation, often with strangers.
While we miss Papa immensely, we are proud to carry on his affinity for vine, wine and passion for family, knowing that he will live on through our labors.
Cheers, Papa - we love you!
It is hard to believe how many years have slipped by since Bob Lamborn authored the back label of our 1996 vintage, "The Family Connection." His themes in 1996 of family and winegrowing echo true to this very day, and, in fact, echo louder than a decade ago.
As he watched his two grandsons become married men, Matt to Lori and Brian to Sarah, he had to know the family connection would thrive, and thrive it has. The birth year of this zinfandel, 2004, was also the birth year for two new Lamborns. Lori and Matt had their first child Mary in February, followed by Sarah and Brian, also with their first child Hana, in November. The vineyard was no longer our only baby.
We have already announced to our cherished winemaker, Heidi Barrett, that her replacements have arrived. She actually took the news rather well while suggesting that perhaps she may not be able to wait 20 years to retire. We are considering tempting her with free zucchini from Terry's garden in the hope she'll see Mary and Hana through their training.
As Matt and Brian, along with their supportive spouses, absorb increasingly larger roles as winegrowers, Terry and I look on with pride as the "Family Connection" endures.
We raise our wine glasses in gratitude for our blessings, thank you for drinking Lamborn zinfandel, and wish you the very best now and in the years to come.
As the year draws to a close, it is not uncommon to look back over the past twelve months and digest the year's events. Where does the time go? Can we be as old as we feel? Grandchildren who weren't walking and others who were not talking at the start of the year have transformed into mobile chatterboxes. The one small germ which causes little people to have a runny nose, eventually finds Grandpa who gets slammed by the same bug. Vineyard work seems to take a little more time than it used to... could age be a factor? When looking into the mirror the reflection we now see is that of our parents... what's that all about?
Life is a journey and every turn reveals a new experience. We are constantly reminded to savor the moment and, that is indeed, good advice. We hope this 2005 zinfandel reminds you of life's greatest pleasures: family, friends, food, fun...
Thanks for allowing us to share this wine with you!
Grandpa and Grandma Lamborn
The dictionary defines "serendipity" as:
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident;
2. good fortune; luck.
This bottle is both the product of serendipity and the spark that ignited a series of serendipitous events. Those events forged friendships among people from different cities, backgrounds, ages, professions, and walks of life. The story is too long to be told on this bottle in its entirety - but the genesis of the discovery of this outstanding Zinfandel was born in the expression of love, as a bottle was first enjoyed among a group of friends at a celebration after the renewal of wedding vows.
The quest to find and buy more of the Lamborn Zinfandel took the couple across the country, setting in motion a string of events which first seemed like coincidence, but have since seemed to be an expression of destiny, karma, fate, whatever you want to call it. The ripples from that original bottle still resonate to this day... as linkages are still being made, relationships are deepened, and new friendships are being formed - all stemming from the couple's first sip, thanks to a waiter's timely recommendation.
This Zinfandel is worthy of enjoyment for simple pleasure's sake, without bearing the weight of fateful expectations (nevertheless, we would suggest sharing it with friends, old or new).
If you have an adventurous spirit, a receptive mind and an open heart, close your eyes and take a moment to see where the first sip could transport you. It may evoke the rolling vistas visible from Howell Mountain - or it may be somewhere entirely unexpected.
Jennifer Lambert, Stamford, CT, Lamborn Wine Drinker and label contest winner
It is 5:00am, Saturday, September 1st, the morning temperature hovers just under 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The first faint glow of sunrise appears behind the vague silhouette of the Eastern mountain range some fifteen miles distant. The idling tractors sit poised to dash into action as their headlights illuminate the waiting vineyard. Empty half-ton bins stand in line waiting their turn to participate in the 2007 Zinfandel harvest. From the far end of the vineyard we can hear muffled voices as our crew of twelve people begins to arrive.
We take the last sip of our morning coffee and assume out respective positions: tractor drivers, quality control sorters, forklift operator... The morning sun is now high enough for the harvest crew to clearly see the ripe Zinfandel grapes deep within the vine canopy. After six months of nurturing, the 2007 crop is ready and so are we.
Our family, as it must be with yours, is steeped in traditions. One such Lamborn tradition was started by Bob (Papa) Lamborn during the nineteen-eightes: a boisterous "YeeHaw" as we began each and every harvest. This tradition lives on. In fact, if you listen closely as you pull the cork you may hear a faint echo from the bottle: "YeeHaw."
Wouldn't it be flattering for us if you were to exclaim "YeeHaw" after your first sip of this 2007 Zinfandel. We hope it brings you considerable enjoyment!
Thanks for drinking our wine and a special thanks for helping us celebrate our silver anniversary!!
2008: a chilly beginning to a growing season that is sure to be etched in the dusty memories of growers in the Napa Valley and throughout Northern California. Anyone visiting the Valley has seen statuesque machinery equipped with propellers, towering majestically above the grapevines. Better known as wind machines, these devices stand as sentinels against impending frost, whose sole purpose is to move freezing air just enough to prevent frost damage to the newly emerged growth in early spring. By circulating the air, wind machines can increase ambient air temperatures by two to three degrees Fahrenheit. In most years that small increase makes all the difference, but not in 2008. 2008 proved to be the worst frost year Napa Valley has seen in the past 25 years. In early April many vineyard temperatures plunged into the low 20's, and a three degree increase couldn't bring the vineyard air temperatures into the safety zone. Damage was very site-specific, but the overall average crop losses were somewhere in the 35% range. We have a neighbor whose loss was closer to 75%.
Our Zinfandel vineyard, first planted in 1981, has deep, descending mountain canyons on both the west and the east, with one end of the vineyard perched at the edge of more than a 1,500 foot drop into Pope Valley below. This precipitous topography provides is with natural protection from frost damage (as well as other benefits, which we'll address in a future back label!). We are one of the very few Napa growers who can honestly say that we suffered no noticeable frost damage in the record year of 2008.
This is a testament to the fact that grape growing, just like real estate, is all about location, location, location...., and how very lucky we are!
Cheers to the topography, cheers to our 2008 vintage, and cheers to you!
The 2009 vintage was a blockbuster vintage for us, with our tonnage coming in much higher than our year-to-year average. That is to say, this vintage was "abundant," which got us thinking about the meaning of abundance (after the grapes are in we have lots of time to think about these things).
To properly define the meaning of the word abundance, one needs to get out their yardstick of life. At first glance we may associate the word with "plenty" or, in some situations, "excess;" but in reality, it depends on your perspective. If you are accustomed to a full glass and it's now only half full, the word "abundance" would not be a fitting description. However, if your glass is normally empty then half full seems quite abundant.
Even during times of national austerity, if one looks closely, America is a place of awesome abundance. The Lamborns' abundance is found in the beautiful valley known as Napa, a place where wine grapes are abundant and spectacular. We enjoy great weather, clean air and water, and an agrarian way of life, somewhat reminsicent of years past. We are abundantly blessed, and hope that. by sharing this Zinfandel with you, our sense of abundance will also become yours.
Enjoy in good health & abundance,
We are all familiar with the concept of "Truth in Advertising," and it's fair to say everyone subscribes to its precept of honesty. In the display racks of wine shops across America, one can find many examples of "Old Vine Zinfandel;" they will usually have a high price tag which is commensurate with the vines' advanced age and low production. It's human nature to utlilize literary license when discussing ones age, IQ, wine scores, children and grandchildren: the facts can be either increased (as with IQ) or decreased (as with age), but the details always seem much more appealing with a tiny tweek.
And so it is with Old Vine Zinfandel. However, the difference lies in the fact that there is absolutely no legal definition for what constitutes "old vine." The perception is that old vines produce a far better bottle of wine than their never-advertised counterpart, Young Vines. This makes some producers very happy and comfortable labeling the wine as such and pricing it accordingly.
Now that we have established "old" is somehow better, we at Lamborn can honestly boast of our "Old, Vine Farmer." However, we have yet to determine how we can use this term to achieve a higher price point; suggestions are welcome.
We planted our Zinfandel vineyard in 1981 which, by our own definition, qualifies us to use the term Middle-Aged to describe the vines and fruit. In spite of the name, we hope the young (21 years and up), the middle-aged, and the more advanced among us find this wine attractive and delicious.
Thanks for enjoying our wine.
One of the enjoyments of family business is that our constant learning process is fueled by one another - grandparent, parent, and child. Like an olympic torch being passed, like genetics being re-expressed in new combinations, like traditions that we don't even understand being adapted year to year, and like wine itself as a constantly evolving product of nature - we have the benefit of practicing what we learn from our family. We are forever the pupil of the people who mean the most to us.
First, we had the exceptional privilege of learning from Papa, our hard-working, loving, creative, hilarious, visionary grandpa. Then our own parents, Mike and Terry, whose absolute dedication to this family and business orbits their own foundation of being remarkable people. It's their example of dedication to making people feel welcome and never compromising integrity or quality, and always going the extra mile - that is the most valuable lesson.
The Lamborn family has always taken pride in "doing it ourselves," and Mike is the king of this philosophy. He is our resident farmer and the one who spends countless hours working in the vineyard in an effort to grow the absolute best grapes possible. One example is the amount of time he spends mowing the vineyard avenues. Mowing the vineyard is not a farming necessity but it "sure does look nice." If he is willing to invest so much time into something which isn't necessary, you can imagine the work Mike puts into the aspects of farming which do impact fruit quality.
One a summers day in 2011, as dad was mowing, something was propelled by the mower directly into his right eye. Although he was aware his eye was injured he realized vineyard guests were arriving any minute. Mom urged him to go to the hospital to which he agreed - but not until the visitors had received their tour. Not surprisingly the guests insisted upon a raincheck, and Terry drove him to the hospital where a 3mm copper wire was removed from the edge of his pupil.
Mike's eye would be fine, but "the pupil" in all of us took another lesson of his dedication. We are grateful that dad now wears safety glasses, that mom has the love (and patience) of a saint, and that you chose to enjoy this bottle of Zinfandel that we have poured our effort and family into!
With greatest respect,
Brian and Matt Lamborn
Celebrating 30 Years
Where were you in 1982? We were rushing around like headless chickens trying to accomplish our very first Zinfandel harvest. Butterflies? You bet, just like those that accompany the birth of a first child. We had planted our Zinfandel vines three short years before and still hadn't completely figured out the "farming" part. Now we were confronted with fruit - and wine. Our nervousness could have been significantly reduced had we any background in farming (generally) or the wine industry (in particular). We were indeed the true definition of baptism by fire; and boy did we ever feel it. Flying by the seat of our pants we did indeed get through that first harvest. And, with the generous help of our friend and neighbor Randy Dunn, the winemaking was in great hands.
Where were you in 2012? We were rushing around like chickens, this time with heads, bringing in our 30th vintage of Lamborn Zinfandel. We are far from sure where the past 30 years have gone, but we are sure that they have been wonderful. Celebrating the 30th vintage of Zinfandel is for us much like accepting an Academy Award; the list of people to thank is amazingly long. First and foremost we thank YOU for supporting our journey in wine! We also thank Mother Nature for giving us amazing grapes, and our cherished winemaker, Heidi Barrett, for giving us 15 years of her remarkable talents. The cycle of growing and producing is not complete until each bottle is consumed and enjoyed. You may be completing the cycle at this very moment.
Growing conditions in 2012 helped us celebrate 30 years by providing one of the most spectacular vintages in quite some time. Please join us in celebrating this special 30-year anniversary of Lamborn Zinfandel.
The Lamborn Family
We have been growing Zinfandel grapes on Howell Mountain for 35 years and as wine consumers you know every vintage is slightly unique. In wine-speak, "unique" can have many interpretations, one of which is a cover-up for "less than hoped for." We all understand that in difficult years wine producers are reaching for the Thesaurus looking for those flowery words to optimistically describe a tough situation.
2013 was the second consecutive vintage that requires no marketing spin or deflecting language. In one word, "smile," we can describe this 2013 Zinfandel vintage. This description is indeed appropriate in that we are smiling ear to ear about what is in this bottle, and we feel rather confident that it will make you smile as well.
Taking the concept of smile to the next higher level, it is even possible that this vintage will cause you to laugh with joy. We are already smiling about this 2013 Zinfandel, but when your smile turns to laughter, our satisfaction, represented by our smile, grows exponentially. We can't think of much else that brings us more satisfaction than knowing we have contributed to your enjoyment of life.
Without a doubt growing grapes & making wine enhances our life experiences and nothing would make us happier than sharing that joy with you. Please carry that smile with you and share it.... it's contagious.
When farming for a living, the realization of risk is forever present: too cold, too hot, excess rain, not enough rain, insects, disease, and the list goes on. Napa farmers and their counterparts, Napa winemakers, annually revisit the natural challenges of this business and try to gracefully accept that which they cannot control.
At 3:20am on Sunday, August 24, 2014, Napa residents and visitors alike were jolted from their sleep by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake centered just six miles from downtown Napa. All California residents and most visitors are aware that earthquakes are an omnipresent threat, but this particular earthquake fault came as a surprise to most Napa residents. Vineyards were not directly impacted by this geological event, however many wine producers got hammered. Tanks containing 20,000 gallons of wine collapsed like paper bags. Full barrel stacks of aging wine came crashing to the floor. It was a blessing that this quake happened in the middle of the night, otherwise personal injust would have been substantial.
Our barrels, and this vintage, were stored underground and stacked only two high. And, the winery being far north in the city of Calistoga, we were spared. We dodged the bullet but we were reminded how lucky we have been and continue to be. As we drink and share this 2014 Zinfandel, let us take a moment to be grateful for all that is good in life.
September 12, 2015.... just as we finished crushing these Zinfandel grape, the Lake County "Valley Fire" had just erupted on Cobb Mountain. We felt reasonably safe as Cobb Mountain is 21 miles north of our farm. California's ongoing draught causing the forest land to be extremely dry and flammable was going to be a problem, and, as it turned out, a much bigger problem than we had thought.
We received mandatory evacuation orders at 1am Sunday morning just 12 hours after the fire had started. We were astonished to learn that the 21 mile separation that we thought would provide us protection was now a mere nine miles and the fire was moving rapidly in our direction.
10 hours latr on Sunday morning the fire had progressed to near the base of Howell Mountain. Once it started up the Mountain there would be no stopping it, and our home and vineyard would be lost; we were in the process of accepting that reality.
Later Sunday afternoon the winds miraculously changed direction and we were spared.
This experience, not unlike the 2014 Napa Earthquake, reminds us once again that we live and work in a very fragile world. This dangerous fire destroyed 76,000 acres, 1,955 buildings (1,322 of which were homes), and took four lives.
This "fire" story also hits close to home as our winery patriarch Bob Lamborn lost his home in the Oakland/Berkeley fire storm in 1991; he named that vintage the Phoenix Vintage which marks the first year we began naming each Zinfandel vintage.
We remain very grateful for each one of our blessings, and for you, our customer.
Wine is a celebratory beverage and we toast to your safety, health, and happiness.
Thank you for supporting our family winery by drinking our wines!