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Gnarly Head Winery

Gnarly Head Winery When the search for great Zinfandel led us to Lodi, we ended up visiting vineyards that have some of the oldest vines in California. As the truck pulled up to the 80-year-old Zinfandel vineyard, my first impression was "wow, those vines sure have some gnarly heads!" Unlike modern rows of trellised vines, these old Zinfandel vines were grown as free standing “head trained” vines. Today they resemble wild bushes with twisted old trunks and branches that spread out in all directions sprouting leaves like unruly umbrellas – truly gnarly heads. The grapes from these brash old vines create Zinfandel with rich, concentrated fruit flavor that is easy to drink and pair.


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12001 S. Highway 99, Manteca, CA, US, 95336-9209 Email:
Phone: 209-239-1215 Web:
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  Gnarlier Head Old Vine Zin
Get Gnarlier! Dive nose-first into this dense, garnet-colored, single vineyard Zinfandel to find aromas of spicy cloves, fresh summer berry jam and cedar. Gnarlier Head Zin makes a big, round, rich first impression on the palate with explosions of juicy dark berries, ripe plums, wild raspberries and hints of vanilla, mocha and pepper. This rush of flavors is supported by solid tannins, so the flavor lingers. Make sure your glass is half-full of Gnarlier Head Zin when you are serving ribs, blackened snapper, pizza, grilled portabello mushrooms, pepper steak or even that dark chocolate mousse. Sommer’s vineyard, the source of Gnarlier Head grapes, is located in the western end of the Dry Creek Valley. The vineyard is up on the Benchland. The south facing Benchland allows good sun exposure, which creates ripe, fruit flavors in the grapes. The soil in this area is red gravelly clay loam. This rocky soil drains well, which stresses the vines before harvest and concentrates the varietal character in the Gnarlier Head grapes. This wine spent 14 months in small oak barrels before being carefully racked and blended into the finished Gnarlier Head Old Vine Zin.
  Gnarly Head Cab
Aromas of black peppercorn, cedar and blackberries lead in this dark, bold Cab. A wave of juicy blueberries and currants breaks on the palate followed by hints of violets, earth, cloves and cocoa. Supported by solid tannins, the flavor lingers like a long, smooth ride on a perfect wave. This Cabernet crowd pleaser is great at a party with spicy meatballs or strong cheeses, but its equally comfortable with dinner for one or two with steak, lamb, fire-roasted vegetables or hearty lasagna. Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted using grapes from specially selected vineyards in Napa Valley, Monterey and Lodi. The Napa Cabernet Sauvignon in this wine is from Rutherford, contributing the ripe fruit and earthy notes. Cabernet Franc from Monterey contributes aromatic notes of violets, currants and spices. Lodi delivers juicy fruit and voluptuous body to this wine through Malbec, Merlot and Petite Sirah. The finest California appellations and a selection of Bordeaux grapes create this Gnarly Cab.
  Gnarly Head Chardonnay
It's hard to imagine that Chardonnay can be gnarly, but a sip of this mouthwatering wine takes you headfirst into bright tropical fruit flavors of pineapple and citrus, followed by a zingy ginger accent and hints of toasted coconut and vanilla on a creamy finish. This full-bodied Chardonnay offers waves of flavor. Its big, bold flavors are perfect for hard core foods like Tex Mex, Thai, and blackened chicken or fish. This well-balanced wine is equally comfortable as a partner for a huge bowl of popcorn during a movie marathon, pasta night, salad days or on its own. Gnarly Head Chardonnay is crafted using grapes from specially selected vineyards in Lodi, Monterey and Mendocino. The Lodi grapes contribute the ripe, juicy fruit and floral notes. Chardonnay grapes from our unique vineyard in Monterey contribute citrus and tropical flavors. Mendocino grapes deliver the crisp acidity to Gnarly Head Chardonnay that balances the abundant fruit flavors.
  Gnarly Head Merlot
Big waves of rich, ripe fruit flavors splash over the palate as the introduction to Gnarly Merlot. Dark, lush black cherry character is layered with hints of toasted almond, vanilla and cocoa, which carries into a smooth, intriguing finish. Gnarly Head Merlot fits right in at a beachside barbecue or a formal fete. Gnarly Merlot pairs as well with pizza or a turkey sandwich and chips as it does with a pork loin, a porterhouse steak, roasted vegetables and wild rice. Gnarly Head Merlot is crafted using grapes primarily from vineyards in Monterey. The vineyards feature loamy, free-draining soils with trellising that gives the grapes ideal exposure to sunlight. Dry summer weather, combined with cool breezes off Monterey Bay provide the perfect conditions for controlling growth and stress through irrigation—resulting in grapes of intense fruit flavors.
  Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel
The 2005 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel is crafted from grapes from 35 to 80 year old vines. Rich, dark berry flavors from the small grape clusters are balanced with French, American and Hungarian oak. Luscious layers of plum, pepper and chocolate provide a lingering and spicy finish.


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RichLy says...
Just finished a case of this wonderful accomplishment (caberbet Sauvignon 2009). It's the best Cab I have ever had.

monkemeyer,leslie says...

Phillip Shackelford says...
It took me a while to fine my favorite Cab. & then I tried Gnarly Head. My favorite is 2012 but I have been on board for since 2009. Bold & Gnarly. Phil