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Zd Wines
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Zd Wines

Locale ID CA5403

Run by Robert De Leuze
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Producing world-class wines was the vision of two former aerospace engineers who in pursuit of their dream launched ZD Wines. The plan was to produce wines similar to those from the renowned Burgundy region of France using the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay winegrape varieties. In 1968, Norman deLeuze and Gino Zepponi pooled their resources of $3,000 apiece and applied for a winery permit. At that time, there had not been a winery permit issued in Sonoma County for nearly 20 years. The permit was issued in 1969.

Norman and Gino rented a small farm building in the Carneros region of Sonoma County. They purchased winegrapes, some 50-gallon oak barrels and a redwood vat. Three hundred cases of Pinot Noir and a small amount of White Riesling represented ZD's first commercial vintage in 1969. The grapes were purchased from the Winery Lake Vineyard, which had been planted a few years earlier by René di Rosa. ZD's 1969 Pinot Noir carries the historical significance of being the first wine to have a Carneros designation on the label. It states, "Made in Sonoma from grapes grown in the Carneros region of Napa." The Chardonnay winegrapes from Winery Lake Vineyard were not in production until 1971, which is the first vintage of ZD Chardonnay.

The de Leuze and Zepponi families spent weekends and holidays crafting ZD's wines from grapes grown in carefully selected vineyards from some of today's most recognized wine regions. During the 1970's, a very open-minded approach was taken towards trying new and different varieties and growing regions. Research was undertaken to discover which regions produced the winegrape varieties that best reflected ZD's developing style - wines with rich, vibrant flavors.

After 10 years of producing wine as a part-time business, Norman left engineering to devote all of his time to doing what had become a full-time passion. Norman's wife, Rosa Lee handled the sales and marketing of the wines. A six-acre parcel of land was purchased located along the beautiful Silverado Trail in Rutherford, Napa Valley. Here, a new winery was built in 1979. One year later, Cabernet Sauvignon was planted on the surrounding property and a three varietal focus was taken, which returned ZD to its original plan. In 1980, ZD began producing only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. By this time, ZD had already established a reputation for producing wines of outstanding quality, distinctive style and consistent character.

Today, the de Leuze family continues to produce wines with a personal, hands-on approach. Over the years, all of Norman and Rosa Lee's children - Robert, Julie and Brett - have joined the winery staff. Robert's involvement began the day his father formed the winery and began crushing winegrapes. From the time he was 11 years old, Robert was never far behind Norman. In 1983, after years of practical experience and studying viticulture and enology at UC Davis, Robert became winemaker.

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Last Update: May 23, 2010
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