Eric Ogorsolka, the winemaker and owner of Zenaida Cellars has been growing and making wine since 1990. He began planting the estate vineyard in the hills of west Paso Robles after earning a degree in Biology from California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo. One of Eric’s first jobs in the wine industry was at Wild Horse Winery in Templeton California under winemaker Jon Priest. Here Eric had the opportunity to experience hands on winemaking and attributes a lot of his knowledge of coopers to his time spent there. Ken Volk owner of Wild Horse at that time was very interested in experimenting with many coopers utilizing French and especially Hungarian oak. Eric then moved into a position at Kendall-Jackson while continuing his education in wine making at UC Davis through the University Extension. In 1996 Eric finished planting the Templeton Gap vineyard and in 1998 began work on the winery, Zenaida Cellars. Since his debut, Eric has utilized his science background to incorporate sustainable agricultural procedures into farming the vineyard and currently focuses on Rhone varietals, as well as Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Vineyard and Winery
The home vineyard is located in the Templeton Gap area, west of Paso Robles, at the base of the Santa Lucia Coastal Range. The 35 acre property consists of 22 acres of vineyard that is farmed utilizing sustainable practices. The winery occupies the original homestead of the property, dating back over 100 years. Utilizing the same low impact philosophy in the vineyard and in the winery, Eric maintains that farming and living sustainably will not only produce higher quality wines it will also help leave the land in better condition than he found it.
Our vines grow in a lean soil layered with calcareous shale, limestone, clay, and sand. The varied soils are key to complexity in the wine. The vines are head trained or vertical positioned, allowing for adequate sun and airflow. This method emphasizes the leaf surface area allowing for good sugar production and even ripening of the fruit. Low impact and sustainable agricultural practices entail cover-cropping with perennial grasses, recycling grape pommace into mulch and grey water reclamation. This high quality mulch allows for organisms to proliferate in the soil, which in turn help the plants to uptake nutrients, discounting the need for harsh chemical fertilizers. Wine quality is driven by soils, climate, and location; we are growing in this area because we believe it to be one of the more superior wine growing areas.
Our wines are made using only the highest quality fruit from our estate vineyard and our small group of Paso Robles AVA growers. The vines are meticulously preened and thinned to ensure even ripeness throughout. At harvest, the fruit is hand picked and brought into the winery in the cool of the early morning. We process the fruit without the use of pumps or augers, thus eliminating excess handling. The grapes are de-stemmed, not crushed, chilled and then fall directly into small, open top fermenting bins below. The bins are then wheeled into the winery to settle and begin fermentation. We utilize whole cluster and carbonic maceration during fermentation. The fermenting must is mixed by hand two-three times daily to ensure superior color, structure, and balance of the finished wine. Our red wines undergo extended maceration and are pressed to select French oak barrels or puncheons to age approximately 18 months before bottling.
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