York Creek Vineyard, situated high on Spring Mountain, overlooks St. Helena and the Napa Valley from the west. Ridge came here initially in 1971 for the old-vine petite sirah. Zin was first harvested from York Creek in 1975, and both wines have been made in every vintage since. The major planting of mature zinfandel at York Creek is the Race Track vineyard, at an elevation of 1800 feet. The name refers to a trotting track that describes a graceful oval through the vines. As in 1998, the '99 growing season began very late, and rain at bloom limited crop levels. A moderate summer and long fall brought fully ripe grapes by mid-October--a good two weeks earlier than in 1998. Given the grapes' high level of ripeness, color and tannins were easily extracted over an eight-day active fermentation, which left a bit of residual sugar. Half the grapes were fermented using the submerged cap method (grape skins held by a grid below the surface of the juice). This results in a wine of greater structure, which, in '99, balances a slight sweetness in the final wine. As usual, only naturally occurring yeasts were used to ferment the grapes. After malolactic, the wine was aged in air-dried American oak barrels. Perhaps the richest, most mouth-filling Zinfandel Ridge has yet produced from York Creek.
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