Hi, my name is Nishil Patel, your go-to purveyor of fine beverages and the owner-operator of Heritage Wine & Spirits in Longview, Texas. The time has finally come… I want to welcome you to our blog!
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WINE OF THE MONTH from the maker of "The Prisoner"
"I guess you could say it all started with Zinfandel, although you could also say it almost ended with Zinfandel. It was 1998 and with the ignorant bravado that only a twenty-five-year-old can possess, I decided to form Orin Swift Cellars. My goal was to never make more than one thousand cases. Oops! Back then I loved, as I do now, to drink Zinfandel. So, that’s where I started. I bought two tons of Zinfandel and took the first step of what I hope will be a lifelong journey in turning grape juice into alcohol. Truth be told, that first step was more like a trip or a stumble at best.
You see, 1998 was a tough, wet year, and no matter what I did in the cellar that first vintage, my baby, was just OK, and I’m not OK with OK. I sold the wine in bulk and tried again the next year. I went back to Zinfandel, this time farming it myself. It was literally trial by fire. I lost a third of the crop when I sprayed sulfur late in the year and a heat spike fried the morning side of the vines. What was left yielded my first commercial bottle of wine, the 1999 Orin Swift Cellars Zinfandel. Ninety-nine cases. I had finally arrived, although late and a bit hungover.
The next year, 2000, was another difficult year, much like 1998. Circumstances led me to basically throw all my red wines together, most of which was Zinfandel, and I made a wine called The Prisoner. I made that wine for the next eight years, and then in 2008 I sold the brand. When I sold the brand I agreed to not make Zinfandel for eight years.
At first, I liked the idea. Zinfandel is notoriously difficult. It ripens unevenly, it is prone to rot, and it often has very high alcohol. Taking a few years off sounded good. But, like a child who only wants to do what he or she is told not to, I began to plot my return. I would have to wait till 2016, which seemed like an eternity.
I can’t tell you how many hours and brain cells I wasted obsessing over potential names and label art. I finally hit rock bottom on a warm summer night in Paris. I woke up, unable to sleep. I thought I had it. I wrote down my “genius” idea. Then went back to sleep. The next day I read what I had written the night before and was embarrassed by its absurdity and obviousness. I decided right then to stop trying. I would stop trying and wait for something to happen, and in the meantime, I would write a book. A short book. OK, a very short book.
The only reason I mention the book is because the title of the first story in it is Eight Years In The Desert. Just corny, enough, right? By accident, I had solved for the name and label concept. Better to be lucky than good, much better. It’s been great getting to know Zinfandel again. It’s a bit like riding a bike, only now the bike is a motorcycle and the rider has more experience. For better or worse…one door closes and another opens up. As my wife likes to say, “when life gives you lemons swap them out for limes and grab the tequila”. I hope you enjoy the updated re-entry into Zinfandel, it’s been a long time coming!"
As many of you know, we at Heritage LOVE "The Prisoner," so it probably comes as no surprise that we are so excited to be getting our hands on Dave Phinney's 2018 Zinfandel-based blend. We urge you to give it a sip!
EAST TEXAS BOURBON SOCIETY
Your tastings are compliments of Heritage Wine & Spirits, but come and take part in the Society meetings, learn about the "Brown-water." We discuss the history behind each distillery, their start-up & story, the mash-bills, and tasting notes.
Following your first attendance, membership is required to participate in the East Texas Bourbon Society events.
Dues are $30/month or $300/annually and support the Society's fundraiser:
The Texas Bourbon Shootout
Membership dues can be paid online at www.EastTexasbourbonSociety.com
WHAT? The East Texas Bourbon Society
WHEN? Third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE? Heritage Wine and Spirits
WHY? For more information about the mission of East Texas Bourbon Society, visit www.EastTexasBourbonSociety.com