The name is an homage to the first barrels of this blend. A zinfandel blend that did nothing but cause problems, demanding nights of extra attention complete with warm blankets and musical serenades. Referred to as the “Problem Child,” those two barrels turned themselves around and were the beginnings of one of our most celebrated wines.
70% Zinfandel, 20% Syrah, 5% Carignan, 5% Graciano
I’ll be honest with you that I have a love/hate relationship with Zinfandel. The grape can be so mind-boggling to grow and ferment that, sometimes, I really want to throw in my card and walk away, but I won’t. I’ve learned over the years that patience and a calming attitude toward the wine go a short way, while blending with proactiveness go a long way. I start blending during harvest and continue blending the wine until Spring. The wine will transform itself slowly over the next year and really begins to express itself after about 12 months. The new vintage of PC is both powerful and elegant. Layers of fruit jump out of the glass and the wine reminds you that wine is made from fruit after all! Drink now through 2027.
64% Zinfandel, 19% Syrah, 14% Graciano, 3% Carignan
If you are looking for Zinfandel, look no further. This is one of the best examples of Zinfandel in the whole state of California. As usual, the bold audacity of Zinfandel is tamed by skillful blending with Syrah, Carignan, and Graciano. It’s like obedience school for the Problem Child, each grape helps develop the wine into a knowledgeable smart ass that will test the boundaries. The rich and bold wine elicits flavors of cranberries, raspberries, orange peel and cinnamon. There’s a wonderful mouthfeel that hints to memories of graham cracker dust, toast and blueberry jam. Delicious today or consume over the next 5-7 years.
77% Zinfandel, 17% Syrah, 6% Mourvèdre
Problem Child: know one, have one, or are one. This is an opulent Zinfandel blend from the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. We take dry-farmed, head-trained Zinfandel, manicure the vines and clusters for perfection and pick when the time is just right. Blended with a modest amount of Syrah to widen the palate, the wine moves up the sophistication ladder; the crescendo comes from the splash of Mourvèdre, which rounds out the edges.
74% Zinfandel, 19% Mourvèdre, 7% Syrah
You either have one, know one, or are one! While the first vintage of Problem Child in 2001 was marked by trouble with both ripening and fermenting, the Zinfandel no longer poses problems in the field or cellar. The grape vines have matured and moved out of their difficult phase. The Mourvedre lengthens the palate, while Syrah adds a dense, meaty texture that cuts the acidity of the Zinfandel. Aromas and flavors of fennel and black cherry pie complement a smooth, round mouthfeel. Aged in 500 liter puncheons of new and neutral American oak for 12 months. Drink now through 2021.
72% Zinfandel, 20% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre
Plums, cranberries and boysenberries are complimented by black pepper, cigar and cocoa bean. Gentle tannins and a buoyancy of liquidity make Problem Child a mid-weight fighter. Aged in a mix of American and French oak. Drink now through 2021.
74% Zinfandel, 18% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre
We are proud to release one of the few and most sought-after California zinfandel blends produced today. First released in 2001, the dry-farmed zinfandel in this blend hails from the Heaton Ranch in the Willow Creek AVA. Grown on a western facing slope of Linne Calodo soils creates bright, thirst quenching acidity and amazing flavors of raspberry and cherry pie. The zinfandel was picked at optimal ripeness, fermented on skins for 22 days and pressed into both 500L American oak puncheons and 265L barriques. Wine is pigéaged daily by myself and my cellar crew. Aged in American barriques to add roasted meat quality to the bright fruit flavors. I blend in syrah for mid-body weight and mourvédre for tannins and earth. Drink now with good friends (or alone), or in the next five years with your great friends.
74% Zinfandel, 14% Syrah, 12% Mourvèdre
Can you believe the Problem Child is growing up? The vines are getting older and with that comes complexity. Consistently zinfandel dominant, the wine screams out with rich ripe fruit that is constrained by the addition of syrah and mourvèdre. These additions provide a savory component that is matched with smoked meats and the pleasing aromatics of toast. Delicious today, but can cellar for 7 years.
72% Zinfandel, 20% Syrah, 8% Mourvèdre
If you are expecting loads of fruit, mind-boggling aromatics and a deft balance, then look no further. This is your wine. It really has never been a problem, just a fascinating trip of fruit, acid, and judicious barrel use with quest of balance. (PS: I found it.)
77% Zinfandel, 16% Syrah, 7% Mourvèdre
The PC is growing up. Once again, all fruit is from the west side of Paso Robles. The first barrels of zinfandel are from the Heaton Ranch (a dry-farmed, head-trained vineyard that sits adjacent to the Cherry Red Vineyard, almost a guarantee that the fruit will be great). Throw in a few barrels of Cushman Zin (across the street from Heaton Ranch) and you have Willow Creek Road character. A ton of lip-smacking acidity and jumping-out-of-your-glass fruit aromas and flavor. Tame it down with equal amounts of syrah barrels from Caliza and Denner. The blend is almost there. Cinch it together with a couple barrels of mourvèdre and you have the Modern Zinfandel for the Modern Palate. Easy to consume and dangerously delicious.
62% Zinfandel, 20% Mourvèdre, 18% Syrah
The one and only Problem Child. Born in 2009, this uncontainable fruit explosion of sweet cranberries, currants and plum quickly lunges to center stage. Managed gracefully by the soft and lush syrah and animal instincts of mourvèdre, this Problem Child is not out of control, but expressing its desire for individuality. A trivial pursuit of flavors that continues to dance gracefully around the ring and, as expected, triumphs over all challenges of submission. The Problem Child is great now, but will become victorious in the months to come. Drink through 2014.
70% Zinfandel, 17% Syrah 13% Mourvèdre
The 2008 Problem Child weighs in at 70% Zinfandel, 17% Syrah, and 13% Mourvedre. At this point in my life as a winemaker, I have learned to think of producing Zinfandel as a game. A game where YOU NEVER KNOW THE OUTCOME! All wines are made in the vineyard and Zinfandel is no exception. However, working with dry-farmed vineyards (no irrigation) creates so many challenges that I am always making small adjustments to ensure a spectacular crop.
First, there is Zinfandel’s infamously long flowering window to consider, a process lasting up to four weeks, which often results in a very unevenly ripening crop. In the quest to narrow the window of ripeness, we make two to four passes through the vineyard to drop inconsistent clusters. When we reach harvest, we have often dropped anywhere between 30 and 60 percent of the original crop. This is only the start; the clusters then begin to desiccate in the Summer and Fall heat and these raisins make it very difficult to know exactly how sweet the clusters are. Sometimes a vineyard of Zinfandel will be harvested at 23% sugar but three days later will climb to 28%. We call this “soak up” and is yet another inconsistency to account for.
Finally, after sorting and destemming the fruit into small fermenters, the game continues with the hopeful completion of fermentation. Herein lies the final problem: yeast can only ferment up to about 17% alcohol, and clusters at 28% sugar place me very close to that line. This is why I like to co-ferment Syrah and Mourvedre with the Zinfandel, they lessen the alcohol potential and bring a balance and flavor profile I look for. Enjoy the Problem Child now and through the next three to five years.
72% Zinfandel, 16% Syrah, 12% Mourvèdre
This vintage of Problem Child reminds me of what I love most about zinfandel. A smoky nose with a hints of ripe berry and lots of sweet clove. Solid structure with bursts of luscious blackberry, dried fruits on the mid and essence of orange. The total package! Drink now through 2015.
77% Zinfandel, 12% Syrah, 11% Mourvèdre
Everyone knows one, has one, or is one. If you have been following this wine over the years, you may notice that the 2006 has a slightly higher amount of zinfandel than years past. Do not be alarmed! The wine is every bit a Problem Child. Bursting with flavor and zing, 2006 co-mingles with 40% new American oak to bring you a wine that persists in mind like any stubborn Problem Child would.
71% Zinfandel, 17% Syrah, 12% Mourvèdre
A zinfandel-dominated wine that is robust yet balanced – a vintage marked by high levels of acidity and natural, structured tannins, the zinfandel needed a little rounding out. This was achieved by a modest dose of syrah, that cut the acidity and added meaty qualities to the explosive fruit. The addition of mourvèdre aids in bringing the wine back to earth with subtle hints of pepper and garden herbs. This wine can be enjoyed by itself or with any robust spice driven meal. Drink now or over the next 2-5 years.
72% Zinfandel, 17% Mourvèdre, 11% Syrah
As a young kid, I realized that listening to my parents was optional. This led to fears that I would one day be incarcerated for my defiance. Of course the incarceration never happened and now only the echoes of hearing “one day you’ll have kids of your own!” ring loudly in my ears. Well, here is one of my kids, the 2004 Problem Child.
68% Zinfandel, 17% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre
A rebellious youth, always in trouble and yet still passes with flying colors. This wine has taught me more about my winemaking style than any other. When pushed, the wine doesn’t move and when ignored, the wine blossoms into a bright, articulate individual. More and more, I realized that the gentle hand is much more appreciated in winemaking than the heavy hand.