Nalle is a small family run winery with father, mother and son all having important roles in daily operations. Doug Nalle received a masters degree in enology at U.C. Davis in 1979 and since the first vintage in 1984 Doug (now alongside his son Andrew) has refused to give in to the fashion for high alcohol, jammy zins. As a result, they remain off the radar of the mainstream wine critics and that's OK with them.
Although they also make tiny amounts of Chardonnay & Pinot Noir from Russian River, Nalle is best known for their Dry Creek Zinfandel, a classic field blend made in a traditional style. With modest alcohol levels, tasteful oak treatment, and incredible age-ability, this estate remains one of the benchmark Dry Creek Zins being made today.
The grapes come from two vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley. Their main source, just steps from the winery, is their family vineyard, Henderlong Ranch, which was planted in 1927 by Fred and Ruby Henderlong, the great grandparents of Andrew Nalle. The other, Sibary Vineyard, was planted more recently in 1999.
The winemaking for the Zinfandel is aimed towards making expressive wines rather than blockbusters. Nalle is always one of the first wineries to begin the harvest each fall and they still check every bunch by hand on a sorting table, a practice considered too time consuming for most California wineries. After sorting they undergo a three day cold soak followed by 7-14 days of fermentation on the skins, punched down 2-3 times per day. Finally the wine is aged for 11 months in 25% new French oak before bottling.