David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery

Frequently Asked Questions

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A. ABOUT DAVID COFFARO WINERY AND VINEYARD

1. What is the history of David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery?
2. What grapes do you grow and how many acres do you have?
3. When were the vines planted?
4. How many cases of wine do you produce?
5. Who makes the wine for David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery?
6. When is the tasting room open and do you have tours?
7. How did Dave get into making wine and where did he learn how to do it?
8. Do you have t-shirts, hats and logo glasses?
9. Is David Coffaro Winery a family operation?

B. HOW WE SELL OUR WINES

1. What is the Futures Program?
2. Why do you sell your wine on Futures?
3. When are Futures first sold and when are they released?
4. Why not charge more for your wine?
5. Why don't you ship wine when it is released in August?
6. Where do you distribute?
7. Do you sell wines in magnums, half bottles, or any other size formats?
8. How can I get more of a wine that I enjoyed?
9. What if we'll be out of the country when you post the forms?
10. Can we get on your mailing or email list?
11. Where can I find out about shipping?
12.
Do you have a wine club?

C. WINE AND WINE PRODUCTION

1. What does Aca Modot mean?
2. Why don't you sell more single varietal wines?
3. Why aren't there any tasting notes from the Winemaker?
4. Why aren't there notes about food and wine pairings?
5. How long do the wines age and when should I drink them?
6. What closures do you use?
7. Screwcaps? Isn't cork the best thing for wine?
8. How do you decide on a wine blend?
9. Is there a tasting skill you've developed, and/or a formula "in your head" that you use to predict the final blend of a wine?
10. What sort of barrels do you use?
11. Is the wine filtered?
12. Do you have any Phylloxera or Pierce's Disease problems?
13.
When does harvest start and end?
14.
Where did the name ZP2C come from and what does it stand for?
15.
How is "ZP2C" made?

D. EVENTS

1. Does your winery participate in any events?

 


A. ABOUT THE DAVID COFFARO VINEYARD AND WINERY

A1. What is the history of David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery?

In 1979, Dave and Pat decided to give up the city life and move to the beautiful Dry Creek Valley. They purchased a 20 acre vineyard with a small house on it and began the life of farmers. For about 15 years, Dave tended the vineyard by himself and they made a living by selling their grapes to Ernest and Julio Gallo. As time went on they began to sell to smaller wineries and all the while Dave experimented with his fruit by making a small amount of wine for his own personal consumption.

In 1994, it was time for a change and so the Coffaros applied for a commercial winemaking permit. Dave gradually extricated himself from the day-to-day tasks of running a vineyard by hiring a vineyard manager to take over most of the duties required in the vineyard. The first year's commercial production was only 400 cases, followed the next year with 700 cases and the the next with 1300 made mostly by himself. When he increased production to 2500 cases in 1997, he hired Brendan Eliason - a CalPoly viticulture student - to help him with the winemaking. Two vintages later in 1999 after graduating, Brendan came to work full time for his third year and continued on as assistant winemaker until the harvest of 2005. Brendan now operates his own winemaking enterprise, under the name of Periscope Cellars.

In 2003, the decision was made to do a test run on the bottling line with the screw top closure. A bold move to say the least, because the test run ended up being half of the total production. Though a very impressive percent, the move was due to Dave's trust in the closure for the preservation of the wine's quality. The decision paid off when in 2004 the winery sold its corking line and purchased a brand new screw top bottling line for the entire production of all vintages to come.

Then in 2005, with production hovering between 5,000 and 7,000 cases Dave hired another young guy, Matt Wilson, who was fresh from the California Culinary Academy, to slowly ease into Brendan's position as Brendan started up his own wine label. The full switch was made in the 2006 harvest when Brendan went full time to his new winery and Matt continued on with the assistant winemaking tasks here. Then in 2015, after being with us for almost ten years, it was Matt's turn to go out on his own and seek other winemaking options. At that time we hired Josh Price, a 2010 horticulture major out of Texas Tech, to take over the assistant winemaking duties. Josh came to us after having taken viticulture and enology classes at Napa Valley College and having worked for two small family wineries in Napa Valley. 

A2. What grapes do you grow and how many acres do you have?

A picture is worth a thousand words . . .

Vineyard Map

A3.  When were your vines planted?

We've tried to cram some of that into the map, above.

A4. How many cases of wine do you make?

We have steadily increased our production from 400 cases in 1994 to approximately 7,000 in 2006. Our goal at this time is to keep our production between 5,000 and 7,000, consisting entirely of estate grown fruit.

A5. Who makes the wine for David Coffaro Vineyard & Winery?

Dave himself makes all the winemaking decisions, with the hands-on winemaking itself being handled by Josh Price and Jose Flores as of harvest 2015. See A9 below for more details about our winemaking family.

A6. When is the tasting room open and do you have tours?

We are open 11am-4pm every day and strongly encourage stopping by to taste our currently bottled releases, as well as wine futures from the barrels when available. For those interested in vineyard tours, please contact us by email or phone and we'd be happy to make special arrangements for that.

A7. How did Dave get into making wine and where did he learn how to do it?

Dave was buying French Bordeaux in the 70's, so when he bought the vineyard in 1979, it made sense to start making wine. His learning experience is mostly trial and error; but he has never been afraid to ask questions of his winemaking buddies who are Davis grads. Julia at Lambert Bridge Winery was his biggest source of information and she kept him out of trouble. There are also two wine labs who are a great source of knowledge. Dave did take two wine courses, which included one on the spoilage of wine.

A8.  Do you have t-shirts, hats and logo glasses?

You might get lucky and find a shirt in your size, style and color...chances are slim though. We always have a supply of David Coffaro logo glasses, which are available for purchase upon request.

A9. Is David Coffaro Winery a family operation?

Well, even though everyone who works here seem like family, technically the answer is "no." Not counting Dave and Pat, who handle all the day-to-day tasks of running the winery, we have six almost full-time employees: Catarino, Salvador, Catalina, Martha, Jose, and Josh. Martha and Catarino are Jose's parents, so in that sense, too, we are definitely a family-run winery!

Catarino Flores - Catarino ("Cat Man") Flores came to us an all-around vineyard worker in 1998, and because of his sense of dedication, hard work and great knowledge of the particular characteristics of our vineyard, he was soon promoted to co-vineyard manager in 2002. Since 2005, Catarino has been solely in charge of all aspects of vineyard work including pruning in the fall and winter, planting, growing and training new vines, tractor work and weed control, hand picking the grapes during harvest, and for the past few years, he even has his own private vegetable patch on the property. Some day when you are here, ask him to see his tomato vines. He truly has a green thumb!

Salvador Gonzalez - Because of all the added duties Catarino assumed a few years ago, we decided to hire an assistant vineyard worker. Salvador Gonzalez has now been working right along Catarino, day in and day out, since the fall of 2006. We call him "Catarino Junior." Besides helping Catarino with all aspects of the vineyard and the winemaking processes of bottling and racking, he has also been assisting with the winemaking cellar chores for the past several harvest seasons. He has been a quick study and now knows as much or more about the winemaking procedure as anyone here.

Catalina Perez - Catalina joined our team during the fall of 2012 when we needed some temporary help in the tasting room during the harvest season. We originally met Catalina when she came to our winery in 2010 and 2011 as part of a catering business which was helping us with our food events here at the winery. We were immediately impressed by her outgoing, cheerful personality and when we found out she also had wine tasting room experience, we approached her about taking a part-time job during the harvest of 2012. She agreed and soon after the 2012 harvest, we offered her a permanent part-time position in the tasting room. Her background and great knowledge about wines and the various grape varieties, as well as her willingness to take extra classes and seminars to further her education, have been a great asset to us. When she's not organizing events or keeping us current on Facebook, you'll find Catalina in charge of the tasting room, pouring wine from both the bottles and the barrels on almost every weekend as well as every Thursday and Friday.

Martha Flores - Martha is Catarino's wife and though a recent permanent employee, she has worked with us for several years whenever we needed extra hands for bottling, harvesting, shipping and special events. There came a time in the summer of 2011 when she was looking for a new job and we were looking for more permanent help, and she stepped up to offer us her services. You'll see Martha here everyday when she arrives at either 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning with Catarino and Salvador, and she has been helping us with everything you can possibly think of in and around the winery and also out in the vineyard, including harvesting grapes during the 2011 harvest season and then after that, pruning grapevines for the very first time. She says that learning to prune the grapevines was a challenge, but one that she readily accepted and found "easy" to get the hang of.

Jose Flores - Another member of the Flores family, we have known Jose since he was about 16 and first came to help his parents during bottling week about 8 or 9 years ago. Jose worked for us on a very limited basis for a few years while he was still in school and then gradually worked into a more full-time position once he was out of school and we needed help with harvesting of the grapes. After completing a full season in the vineyard, it became apparent to us that he would be just the perfect person to assist with the many odds and ends that go into running and maintaining a winery facility. And when Matt and Cindi both left us in early 2015 to pursue other employment opportunities, we approached Jose and asked him if he would be interested in working in the tasting room and helping out with winemaking duties. He readily and enthusiastically agreed, and we have been very happy to have Jose helping with just about everything that happens here in the winery and vineyard, including organizing and assisting Pat in the office with the weekly shipping and paperwork.

Josh Price - Our newest and tallest ever employee, Josh Price, was hired as an assistant to the winemaker in April of 2015 just shortly after our long-time assistant, Matt Wilson, left to pursue other winemaking opportunities. We jokingly told Josh that he was hired for his height, which is a very valuable asset when it comes time to punch down the cap in our open top fermenters during the harvest season! His first test of that theory and his first winemaking stint with us will happen during the harvest of 2015. Originally from western Texas, Josh came to us after working in a lab and assisting other winemakers in the Napa Valley. Josh stood out of the group of talented and well-qualified applicants who Dave personally interviewed, and he immediately accepted our offer of employment to begin right away even though he was at that time still living in Napa. Since then, he has migrated to the "other side" and as of July of 2015, has relocated to Sonoma County. Always cheerful and easygoing with an eagerness to do whatever he can to help, we are quite pleased to have him as the newest addition to the "Coffaro Family." When he's not needed on the winemaking side, you'll also find Josh pouring wine in the tasting room. 

B. HOW WE SELL OUR WINES

B1.  What is the Futures Program?

We sell approximately 60% of our production every year through our futures program. Essentially you are tasting the wine from the barrel, then purchasing it at a roughly 40% discount from their eventual release price. You are then able to take possession of the wine in August following the year in which the wine was produced, or for our longer 16-month barrel aged wines, in February of the year after that.

B2. Why do you sell your wine on futures?

We believe in selling our wines at a price that is fair. When we sell wine to a distributor, they are getting the same price as our futures program and so essentially we are cutting out the middle guy and just giving you the discount instead. This works well for both the winery and the customer. We end up getting money to make the wine and you end up receiving spectacular wine at a massive discount.

B3. When are Futures first sold and when are they released?

We begin selling futures of the current year's vintage in April of that year and continue selling futures on that vintage until bottling in July of the following year. Any wine that remains unsold after bottling is then available for sale at retail prices.

B4. Why not charge more for your wine?

We think wine in general is too expensive for the average consumer, and we want to be able to offer our wine to as many people as possible. We make the wine to be consumed, not to sit around and take up shelf space. For more on Dave's thoughts, see Dave's diary.

B5. Why don't you ship wine when it is released in August?

Since we bottle the wine in July, we feel it really isn't ready to drink for at least three months anyway, so we let our customers decide for themselves when they would like the wine shipped by returning the shipping information form we provide each August.

B6. Where do you distribute?

At this time, we do not have any retail distribution. Although we have sold extremely small lots to persistent retailers and wholesalers in the past, we feel that the more wine we can sell through the winery at reasonable prices, the more we can keep the cost of our wine from becoming too expensive.That is why currently we sell almost 100% of our wines direct to consumer.

B7. Do you sell wines in magnums, half bottles, or any other size formats?

We did do a few half bottles of our Sauvignon Blanc in the past few years and have had some requests to continue the half bottle format and other requests for magnums. Setting up our new bottling line for magnums is not possible at this time and the demand for half bottles has been minimal to date, so we will probably not pursue anything other than standard 750 ml bottles at this time. We've also made the decision to stick to just the standard shape/size bottles as we have done a little experimenting with heavier bottles and find them harder to deal with and more expensive for our customers when shipped.

B8. How can I get more of a wine that I enjoyed?

Because we sell most of our wine on a futures basis, sometimes you may not be able to order more of a certain wine after bottling because it may have all been pre-sold on futures. But most of the time, you will be able to get more of a wine by going to our website's order page to find out what is currently available. The order form is always current and up to date. You can order directly from there or call the winery.

B9. What if we'll be out of the country when you post the forms?

If you're going to be away from home when we send out our pre-harvest futures offer in March or April of each year, you can always order on-line or wait until you get back and place an order then. The initial offering price typically stays in effect for several weeks after the first date of the offer. And if you are going to be unavailable in August when we release the bottled wines, you will have until May of the following year to receive your order. Ordering and receiving your wine from David Coffaro is simple and hassle free.

B10. Can we get on your mailing or email list?

Typically we will add you into our database if you purchase wine and give us your contact information. Due to the size of our operation here, we don't keep a postal mailing list. We send out about ten emails a year mostly to keep our futures buyers informed about the release and availability of new vintages, with the occasional newsletter or special wine offerings.

B11. Where can I find out about shipping?

Please read our Shipping Page

B12. Do you have a wine club? 

Yes, we offer membership in Dave's Wine Club, with either a 6-bottle twice a year shipment or 12-bottle twice a year shipment. All taxes and shipping fees are included in a flat fee of $130 (6 bottles) or $240 (12 bottles). Members of our wine club also receive a 40% discount on any bottled wine purchases and a $3 per bottle discount on our already bargain priced futures. You can find the wine club sign up form and more details about it here.

C. WINE AND WINE PRODUCTION

C1. What Does Aca Modot mean?

Aca Modot is the documented name of an Indian village site that once existed on our vineyard property. The site is located on a slight knoll, the highest spot in the immediate vicinity, and the soil there is very loose and black from all the campfires that were once prevalent there. This well-drained, rich soil produces some of the most intense fruit in our vineyard.

C2. Why don't you sell more single varietal wines?

We took our cue from France, which has and still does produce mainly blends. We think wines can be improved and enhanced by blending, though when we get grapes which are particularly outstanding in any given year, we do keep it as a 100% varietal.

C3. Why aren't there any tasting notes from the Winemaker?

Dave puts what he thinks, as he drinks, into his Winemaker's Diary.  From time to time these notes are excerpted and placed in the Reflections on wine page.

C4.  Why aren't there notes about food and wine pairings?

Because we believe that your individual taste and preference should dictate what you like to eat and drink. The entire Cabernet and steak cliché is old. Some day you will run upon the lovely floral Cabernet that really goes better with a nice salmon.

C5. How long do the wines age and when should I drink them?

This question is definitely a popular and difficult one. Once again personal preference should be obeyed and not the opinion of someone else. If you prefer fruit forward, up front and vibrant wines, then you probably would enjoy our wines anywhere from 2 months after bottling to 3 years. If you like them with a little bit more subtlety and character, then aim for 3-6 years. If you like your wines rich, complex and softer, then you will want to look for the 7+ years.

C6.  What closures do you use?

In the past we used neutral corks, not composite or natural, because we didn't want any flavor departed into a wine other than we intended. And going a step further, since the 2004 vintage, we discontinued the use of corks altogether and made the decision to go solely with what is commonly known as the "screwcap" closure.

C7.  Screwcaps? Isn't cork the best thing for wine?

Here are the most common questions:

Wine does not breathe through a cork, but cork closures, including synthetics, all exhibit some degree of gas permeability in both directions. That creates oxidation and premature aging. Champagne ages and it surely does not breathe. After bottling, wine is aging in a confined space and thus the aging is a reductive process.

We think the advantages of using screwcaps to seal wine bottles can be summarized as follows:

C8.  How do you decide on a wine blend?

On the labels and order forms you show varying percentages of wines made from different varieties of grapes being blended into the final resulting wine. How do you decide on the blend?

We go by what tastes good. Dave likes to make deliciously balanced wines, so when we have all the parts separate he will take an acidic wine and blend it with a more tannic wine to make it more balanced, and so on.

C9.  Is there a tasting skill you've developed, and/or a  formula "in your head" that you use to predict the final blend of a wine?

Tastes Good + Wine = Good tasting wine.  Dave just makes wine that tastes good.

C10. What sort of barrels do you use?

We use a combination of American, Eastern European and French barrels. Essentially if they make a barrel out of oak, it will be featured at our winery.

C11. Is the wine filtered?

We don't filter any of our wines because if we did then we wouldn't have ZP2C! Where's the fun in that.

C12. Do you have any Phylloxera or Pierce's Disease problems?

We have never had a problem with Phylloxera, however Pierce's Disease has caused us to replant a few areas of our vineyard.

C13. When does harvest start and end?

Harvest begins every year around the first week in September and finishes every year around the beginning of November. If we are making a Late Harvest wine, we will harvest around Thanksgiving time.

C14. Where did the name ZP2C come from and what does it stand for?

When Dave first made wines as a home winemaker, he would put a tiny sticker on the bottle with a "Z" if it was Zinfandel, a "P" if it was Petite Sirah, and a "C" if it was Cabernet. So then if he blended the three, he would put "ZPC" on the sticker. So after the first year or two of commercial wine making, he decided to use "ZP2C" on the bottom of the barrel blend because at that time, he only produced wine from four grape varieties - Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet and the second "C", Carignan. And, over the years, as he has worked with more and more grape varieties, we decided that adding a new letter for each one would be too confusing. So, the name has remained "ZP2C" and the wine consists of some of every grape variety used in any given year

C15.  How is "ZP2C" made?

Our red wines are fermented for about one week until almost dry (no sugar left). The skins and seeds are then pressed and left behind. The juice is pumped into barrels directly without settling and in a few months' time about 4 gallons of sediment forms at the bottom of the barrel. In January we rack off the clear wine and empty the 4 gallons of sediment from each barrel into separate barrels, which we call "mud". We repeat this racking process twice more, once in April and once in July when we bottle. So each time we do this, the wine to be bottled becomes clearer, and less sediment forms at the bottom of the barrels. We rack the clear wine off the mud barrels every three months and that wine ultimately becomes "ZP2C".
 
 

D EVENTS

D1.  Does your winery participate in any events?

At present the only multi-winery events in which we participate each year are the Russian River Wineroad's Barrel Tasting Weekend (always the first and second weekend of March each year) and the Dry Creek Valley Passport event in the last weekend in April.  However, for the convenience of our customers who wish to pick up their wine orders and also for anyone else who wants to stop by for winetasting, we are always open on the weekends of the following events:

We have also hosted one or two futures release or open house weekends each year, the dates of which will vary from year to year, but are generally held in mid-August and early December. Email invitations to these event weekends are sent to our futures buyers and club members sometime in July and approximately early November of each year.