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’04 Gravity Hills Tumbling Tractor Zinfandel

Sometimes you find a wine that belies its packaging.  Depending on the type of packaging, sometimes it ends up good and sometimes it ends up not so great.

When you see primary colors and some shtick, usually it’s not so good.

This is a good one.

When I picked up the ’04 Gravity Hills Zin, I did so based on a wine monger recommendation.  It was on end-cap and on sale—$13.99 – so I didn’t think much about it.  “It’s a decent Zin probably, but nothing special,” I thought to myself.

“A Paso Zin with flashy packaging—it’s probably bulk wine dropped into a bottle with an eye-catching label,” said my inner skeptic.

This purchase was six or seven months ago, damn near a half-life for wine at this price point, and in the interim I have pulled the cork on plenty of other stuff, and bought plenty of wine, as well.  This week, though, after drinking three clunkers in a row, I was ready for something decent and opened the Gravity Hills almost out of mercy.  A fourth clunker in a row, on the streak I was on, wouldn’t have surprised me, or even aggravated me.

Fortunately, the Gravity Hills does, indeed, belie its packaging and is a good wine.  It’s a good wine for $13.99 and a good wine for much more than that.

And, upon further inspection, I need to give Gravity Hills a break, because their packaging, while demonstrating some eye-popping primary colors, in addition to holding some superb Zin and presumably an equally good Syrah, also masks a pretty interesting story, too.

The name Gravity Hills comes from the steep evaluation of their vineyards.

From their web site:

At Gravity Hills, farming is an uphill battle, but we’re not alone…

Mosel, Germany: so much topsoil washes down when it rains that workers have to haul it back up in buckets.

Priorat, Spain: too steep for tractors. Only mules are surefooted enough to pull the weeders and plows.

Côte Rôtie, France: vineyard workers in the “roasted coast” rope themselves in with harnesses at harvest time.

So, why bother?

Sun-exposure, wind-stress and quick drainage on slopes produce unique, complex wines.

How steep are we talking, anyway?

Our vineyards slope from 20° to 45°.
• *Most cars can’t climb hills with a slope over 30°.
• *Nine out of ten avalanches occur on slopes from 25° to 45°.

In ski terms:
18 – 22° = Green
23 – 30° = Blue
30 - 35° = Black
40° = Low end of extreme mountaineering!
60° = A quick and certain death!

Huh, who knew?  These grapes are from hills that are as steep as a Black Diamond ski run.  I guess I’m just damn glad I don’t have to work the vines, all I have to do is get out a corkscrew—something I recommend you do as well with this tasty Zin.

My review is here.


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