1,000 Stories Zinfandel 2014, California
Cost: $18-20
M y usual routine at home is to have a glass of wine or two with dinner and sometimes another glass after dinner. When all three of us are home, we usually finish two bottles.
When my son Michael and I took a road trip to Michigan, Canada, Minnesota and Wisconsin, I saw no reason to change the drinking part of my routine. I brought a couple of bottles from my cellar and thought I would buy other wines as we went along.
I bought the 1,000 Stories in Kentucky, but never bought another bottle of wine. Instead I went with Michael’s first pick and drank craft beers that we found along the way.
Luckily, the 1,000 Stories was a great pick. I chose it because we were in Kentucky and the label said the wine was aged in bourbon barrels. That seemed appropriate.
I never really tasted the bourbon, but I loved the mellow taste I assume came from the barrels. The toasting of the barrels and the bourbon adds a lot of smoothness to the wine.
I also bought the wine because it had an intriguing label, with a buffalo on the front. The buffalo and the name “1,000 Stories,” is meant to draw attention to the American heritage.
Here’s what the winemakers say on their website: “The mighty buffalo is an iconic symbol of American heritage, a heritage woven with a thousand stories, unique traditions and a pioneering spirit. Our country’s history of hard work and tenacity lives on today in each of us and continues to be at the essence of America’s character. This is the inspiration for 1,000 Stories, a unique wine aged in new bourbon barrels — a reflection of our winemakers’ pioneering spirits.”
Because Zinfandel is a uniquely American wine, the label and the story seemed a perfect fit.
1,000 Stories Zinfandel 2014
1,000 Stories Zinfandel 2014
The wine also is a perfect fit, rich and warm with a lot of complexity. It is a deep garnet color in the glass with aromas of ripe black fruit, including plum and blackberries, with hints of caramel and vanilla.
It tastes like a typical Zinfandel, with loads of ripe fruit flavors, but the taste starts off with a soft mouthfeel followed by rounded tannins and spice. It is a wonderful wine for sipping.
Batch #001 of 1,000 Stories was a 2013 vintage bottled in October, 2014. Batch #004 was the first from the 2014 vintage. This bottle was batch #007 and it is a vintage 2014, so it looks like the winemakers plan to bottle 3-5 batches per vintage.
They say each batch will be unique, taking its flavor from the vineyards and weather for each harvest. They say each batch will be about 5,000 cases, so it would be fun to see how batches from the same vintage differ.
The website says, “Each batch is intentionally different because each batch is crafted using unique techniques and bourbon barrels.”
The winery has a lot of sources to choose for its grapes, focusing on Mendocino County and Dry Creek Valley. The wine is predominantly Zinfandel, with some Petite Sirah and Syrah added.
Each batch spends about six months in traditional French and American oak barrels, but then part of the blend goes into new bourbon barrels. The blend also spends time in old bourbon barrels used by some famous bourbon makers.
Winery: 1,000 Stories is an offshoot of Fetzer, a winery started in 1968. 1,000 Stories itself was born with the 2013 vintage, bottled in 2014.
The bourbon barrel treatment started as an experiment with other grapes, but Zinfandel responded well, so the company moved ahead with a separate winery.
The company says the American history of hard work and tenacity lives on in each of us as part of the American character.
“This is the inspiration for 1,000 Stories, a unique wine aged in new bourbon barrels — a reflection of our winemakers’ pioneering spirits,” according to the winery website. “It wasn’t a quick process, but creating something by hand to meet exacting standards seldom is.
“What started as an experiment has now become a passion. Unbeknownst to the rest of the winery, Charlie and Bob had acquired some bourbon barrels from a distillery in Kentucky in hopes that wine grown from a small parcel of premium Zinfandel and matured in the bourbon barrels would achieve a unique complexity.
“As time passed and the wine evolved, it became clear that the result would be exceptional. No longer a secret, Bob and Charlie’s story is shared in each bottle of 1,000 Stories.”
The winery practices responsible farming. It also supports the Wildlife Conservation Society, which has built a network of experts and strong relationships with ranchers and Native American tribes in an effort to restore natural habitats for the buffalo population.
They work to develop programs to reintroduce buffalo into healthy environments where they may thrive and contribute to the ecosystems once again.
Inside Mammoth Cave.
Inside Mammoth Cave.

Goes with: Michael and I had this wine in the cabin we rented at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. We were headed north to the Great Lakes and Michael thought it would be fun to revisit Mammoth Cave, which we had toured when he was much younger.
Mammoth Cave got its name not from wooly mammoths that once roamed North America, but because it is the longest known cave system in the world, stretching out to 400 miles of explored territory. Who knows how much more is waiting to be discovered?
We took a four-hour tour through the cave and learned a great deal about its history. It is a wonderful park, worth visiting again and again. By the way, this year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of our national park system, so it’s a grand time to visit national parks.
We drank the wine while munching on potato chips and watching episodes of “The X-Files.” That’s not exactly a classic pairing, but it worked for us. Michael and I are on a mission to make it through all seven seasons of this great TV show, and we are about halfway through.
The wine was perfect as an after dinner drink, but I think it would be great with pulled pork barbecue, Italian sausage, pizza, hamburgers, most grilled meats and hard, sharp cheeses.
Mammoth Cave.
Mammoth Cave.

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