ZD Wines was founded in 1969 by two engineers, Norman deLeuze and Gino Zeppponi. The winery is still family owned and operated with co-founder Norm deLeuze’s and his wife Rosa Lee’s children and grandchildren now involved. Z and the D are found in the family’s last name but perhaps more meaningful is the reference to the term “Zero Defects” – used in engineering – and meaning without flaws. Norm deLeuze (died in 2007) was an aeronautical engineer when he first started experimenting with commercial wine making in 1969. ZD actually received their first wine permit in Sonoma County (not many Napa County wineries can say this). They rented farm buildings in the Carneros region of Sonoma County and they made their first vintages here.
They opened their current winery in 1980 and it has since undergone major renovation and now it is a world class winery facility. Their inner courtyard area of the building looks almost like the Sonoma Mission in the town of Sonoma in neighboring Sonoma County. They have a unique winery sign; raised gold lettering sits on a natural rock near their short steep driveway. Turn off of the Silverado Trail to the small parking lot; the winery is on the north side of the parking lot.
Their grapes are sourced from numerous locations within the Napa Valley including their two estate properties, where the winery and hospitality center are located in Rutherford and also in Carneros. Their Rutherford estate is planted to only 3.2 acres of vines (all certified and farmed organically); the grapes from these vines form the majority of their ZD Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Carneros property is planted to 23 acres of Chardonnay and 6 acres of Pinot Noir. The deLeuzes have owned their Carneros property since 1996, however they were sourcing fruit for a Chardonnay for 9 years prior to acquiring the vineyard.
While not open to the public, the property features a modern “barn” housing various farming equipment and a historic house that dates from 1897 (great views overlooking the gentle rolling Carneros vineyards from both the house and the barn). Once a year the property is open for a few hours for their annual Napa Valley Summer Wine Celebration, a food and wine charity event benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley’s Teen Center.
Visitors to their Rutherford hospitality center can choose from two tasting flights at their large semi-circular counter, a Traditional or a Premier tasting.
Their Riesling is delicious and not overly sweet; these grapes originate from Santa Barbara County. We have had several nice Rieslings recently from Santa Barbara county sourced fruit. ZD also has an excellent stand alone Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot is usually used as a varietal for blending and only a small number of Napa wineries produce this as a stand alone varietal. Their smooth Cabernet Sauvignon is worth trying and the several vintages we tried featured polished tannins on the finish.
We’ve been here several times and its always nice to find the counter empty as during most weekends sometimes boisterous wine drinkers line the bar. During one of our recent tastings we tried their Reserve selection. These are wines that are typically produced in quantities of less than 2000 cases. The 2005 Reserve Chardonnay did not undergo Malolactic Fermentation and has a nice balance between fruit flavors and acidity. It is slightly creamy with a beautiful golden color in the glass.
The 2006 Reserve Pinot noir is a rich wine with soft tannins with a complexity of flavors that makes for a long interesting finish. ZD wines have been served at several Presidential State dinners. Also worth nothing is their Saturday Cheese Pairing seminar (by app only).
ZD Wines offers a surprising number of tastings and tour experiences apart from either the Traditional or Premiere tastings available at the tasting counter (these additional experiences are all by appointment only). For a more in depth look at their vineyard management practices consider either their Eco-Tour and Tasting or a Vineyard Tour & Tasting. Other experiences include a library wine tastings, a private cellar tour and tasting and their ultimate tasting – the Abacus (their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon).
The Abacus is one of the most unique Cabernet Sauvignon’s in all of the Napa Valley – it represents a multi vintage wine dating back to 1992. The first release was in 1999 – subsequent releases always increase by one year. Wines from each vintage that are not bottled remain in barrel.
An electric vehicle charging station is located on site. For more information and or to join their wine club, visit www.zdwines.com
Note: This review has been identified as needing a *major* update.
Wine with Tony