Peterson Winery has been producing wine in Dry Creek Valley for over 25 years and, like most wineries in the Valley, produces Zinfandel as well as other wines. Yet a closer look shows that is where the similarities end.
Owner Fred Peterson is an iconoclast with an old world winemaking philosophy and a reverence for sustainable farming. The Peterson approach is to capture the essence of vintage and vineyard—a philosophy they call Zero Manipulation—with low tech, yet high touch, to produce wines of a place, wines with soul. The evolution of Peterson wines and winemaking accelerated when Fred’s son Jamie became assistant winemaker in the summer of 2002. In 2006, after moving from the tiny red barn on Lytton Springs to Timber Crest Farms, Jamie was given the overall responsibilities as winemaker.
As a winegrowing team, Fred and Jamie assess the grapes from each vineyard and vintage as the season progresses, evaluating how the weather, soil and site are interacting for the particular vintage. At Peterson winery, the winemaking process begins while the grapes are still on the vines. Zero Manipulation is a discipline the Petersons follow to capture the character and balance of inherent in the grapes. Zero Manipulation means using the most gentle, traditional winemaking practices possible to maximize the flavors, aromatics and texture of the wines. Fred and Jamie celebrate vintage differences and don’t tweak or homogenize the wine to obtain consistency of flavors, a common practice in mass-market wineries.
Fred has practiced sustainable farming in all the vineyards he’s planted and nurtured in his long career. He continues his passion for grape growing in his own Bradford Mountain vineyard as well as his vineyard consulting practice.
When looking for grapes for Peterson wines, Fred sought growers who from the beginning practiced sustainable farming, reinforcing his support of time-honored winegrowing traditions.
Sustainability means to maintain or to nourish without destroying or using up. Fred’s desire for sustainable relationships extends beyond the land. Sustainability is woven into his relationship with his growers. Fair market value for grapes during good years and lean years have always been his practice. The result is long-term relationships with quality growers, both in Dry Creek and Mendocino County.
For Fred and Jamie, Peterson Winery is all about the wines. But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see the heart and soul that goes into every bottle.