Ravenswood Winery




Dry Creek Valley

When World War I ended, fireworks lit up the sky over Casabiasciana. But underneath, the tiny Tuscan village was far from overjoyed. Some of its native sons were still missing in action, and although the townspeople continued to wait and hope, they gradually grew resigned to the inevitable. 

Teldeschi Vineyard

Finally they staged a memorial service for Lorenzo Teldeschi, a young man who had come back from America to procure a wife from his family’s village, only to enlist in the Italian army when the war broke out. It was terrible to see his young widow Eugenia holding their baby son Michele, all dressed in black. 

Italians aren’t especially noted for emotional reserve, so imagine the scene in Casabiasciana when, a few days after his “funeral,” Lorenzo Teldeschi came walking into town. And how everyone felt a year later, when he and Eugenia had their second son, Franco. 

The family eventually returned to California, where Lorenzo’s father had settled in the Alexander Valley. Franco (who, upon coming to America, began calling himself Frank) planted his own vineyard and sold grapes to Italian home winemakers in San Francisco. Sometime later, during the 1970s, a young winemaker came to their house in Dry Creek Valley and asked if he could buy some grapes for his new winery, Ravenswood. He and Frank sat down under a tree and Frank opened a bottle of his homemade wine. Four hours later Joel Peterson could hardly walk, but he had a deal for a few tons of Zinfandel—a grape that, if God could grow it in only one place, He would grow it in Dry Creek Valley. 

Today, Frank’s son John is also a grape grower, and the Teldeschis still sell fruit to home wine-makers. But a few years ago their truck blew up near the Golden Gate Bridge, so John doesn’t deliver grapes to San Francisco any more. This turned out to be another break for Joel, who swears that he didn’t do anything to the truck but now produces a wine made exclusively from Teldeschi grapes. Some of the vines are 90 years old, and the grapes are the classic Italian-Californian field blend: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Carignane. 

But Zinfandel was Lorenzo’s favorite, so it’s mostly Zinfandel.

Location: Dry Creek Valley
Year(s) Planted: Oldest vines planted from 1913-1919
Acreage: About 30 Acres
Soil Type: Gravelly clay loam
Climate: Very warm North Dry Creek weather, little fog
Elevation: About 300 Feet
Exposure: On the Dry Creek bench, With a slight western exposure