Orin Swift 8 Years in the Desert Red Wine 8 bottle Case First Edition - Limited Release

Orin Swift 8 Years in the Desert Red Wine 8 bottle Case First Edition - Limited Release

  • Size: 8/750ml
  • Item Code: WN18032901
  • Vintage: 2016

One 8pk Case Remaining in stock!

“56% Zinfandel, 34% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah Aged for 10 months in French Oak, 45% New. Dark garnet with a lucid rim, the wine exhibits aromas of briar fruit, ripe blackberry and dark plum with a tinge of minerality and charred meat. Brawny on the entry, it has an equally big mid-palate with complex flavors of ripe brambly fruit, a touch of earth and notes of espresso bean. Still massive through to the finish with soft drying tannins, the unique varietal characteristics of the blend clearly reveal themselves over time.” – David Phinney

“It’s hard to believe that this fall will be my twenty first harvest in the Napa Valley. Some of those vintages I remember fondly, others I’d like to forget. What may be harder to believe is that this harvest also marks the twentieth year that Orin Swift has been in business. Twenty years. It makes me feel old. But I love it, maybe now more than ever. As many of you know, the first commercial wine I made for Orin Swift was Zinfandel. But none of you have ever tried it. None of you have tried it because it was never bottled. I sold it on the bulk market. I would argue that Zinfandel may be the most difficult varietal to tame. But when you get it right it rewards you like no other. If wine making is a series of challenges, Zinfandel has them all in spades. So, in 2009 I took a break from Zinfandel and its challenges. It would end up being an eight-year break. Eight years in the desert. It was never if but when would we make Zinfandel again. That when is now.”

“Today is a big day. I am reunited with the varietal that got me started in the wine business and created Orin Swift. We hope you’ve enjoyed the videos and below there is a preview of all eight of the labels. This project is by far the most personal of any I have undertaken. There will be one more reveal when the wine is shipped this fall. A unique item will accompany the wine and will only be offered with this first release. Nothing has been spared on this project. The tank is empty; everything was left on the field. This is literally blood sweat and tears. So, with no further ado, we proudly give you 8 Years in the Desert. A blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and small percentages of other red varietals.” – David Phinney

Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah ( Petit Sirah/Petite Syrah/Duriff) is the deeply colored, tart, tannic, and peppery red grape found mainly in northern California, where a few producers are fashioning polished wines from old vines. It is in no way related to Syrah, although its origins are said to be somewhere in southeastern France where it is known as Durif. Petite Serve these full-bodied, tannic red wines with grilled foods and roasted game.


Syrah Legends have long persisted regarding the origins of the Syrah vine: one, that it was brought to southern France from the Iranian city of Shiraz by the Greeks; or that the Romans brought it from Egypt via Syracuse; or another that it was introduced by Crusaders returning from the Middle East via Cyprus. In any case, Syrah was widely planted in the Rhône by Roman times, leading pragmatists to think it indigenous to France. Syrah is a warm-climate variety which thrives in various conditions, but great Syrah is less forgiving. It requires warmth, but not excessive heat, and thin, rocky, well-drained, heat-retentive soils exposed to abundant sunshine. Its tendency to coulure, or the failure of the flowers to develop into berries, dictates it be sited on slopes protected from wind. Vigorous and moderately to highly productive in sandy loam soil, its concentration and character are enhanced in the shallow granite and mica schist of the northern Rhône which stress the vine and curb yield. The small, thick skinned berries are deep blue-black in color, high in extract, flavor, aroma and tannin, and of good acidity which evaporates at the first instant of over-ripeness. Important throughout France’s Mediterranean basin, Syrah is usually blended with other varieties. In the northern Rhône appellations, among them Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie, it strongly dominates blends which may include Viognier, Marsanne or Rousanne. In the southern Rhône, in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the Côtes-du-Rhône, it lends structure to Grenache and Cinsault. In the Languedoc-Roussillon it is blended with various other prolific grapes to enhance the whole. The rest of the world typically produces Syrah as a pure varietal, both in dry and fortified styles of wine. Syrah is a perfumed, seductively brooding wine marked by dense, rich, chewy black berry fruit with notes of tar, wood smoke, bacon, leather, chocolate, and sometimes violets. The tannins are steely yet elegant, and co-exist well with oak contact.


Since it was first planted there in the 1850s, California has laid claim to Zinfandel as its own. Because Zinfandel belongs to the vitis vinifera family of Europen vines, it cannot have originated there, but California did put Zinfandel on the map and remains by far its preeminent area of cultivation.

Research to determine Zinfandel’s possible link to Italy’s Primitivo began in 1967, when plant pathologist Austin Goheen saw a resemblance between the two vines while in Apulia. He took Primitivo cuttings back to his base at the University of California at Davis, but could never conclusively determine the two to be identical. Goheen’s research led him in 1977 to a Croatian vine called Plavac Mali, again with inconclusive results.

It was only in 1994 that Carole Meredith, a plant geneticist at Davis, established, through DNA typing, that Zinfandel and Primitivo are genetically the same, but clones of the same variety and not identical, and that neither is indigenous to Italy. 

She picked up on the Croatian trail with scientists Ivan Pejic and Edi Maletic, and found Plavac Mali in fact to be the offspring of Zinfandel and a vine called Dobricic, but this still did not establish Zinfandel as Croatian. Finally in late 2001, Pejic discovered an obscure plot of nine vines called Crljenak Kastelanski, which Meredith proved to be identical to Zinfandel. Whether it was earlier brought to Croatia from Greece or Albania is unclear.

Zinfandel’s route to America was not through Italy at all, but through Austria in 1820, when George Gibbs brought cuttings from Vienna to Long Island. The name, in use since 1832, probably arose through confusion with the Austrian Zierfandler vine. In 1851, the vine travelled to California, and Agoston Haraszthy, father of California viticulture, is believed to have first planted it. By 1889, Zinfandel was the state’s most widely planted vine, firmly rooted in Napa and Sonoma.

In the Cabernet craze of the early 1980s, Zinfandel might have disappeared had it not been resurrected by Robert Trinchero, the first to introduce white Zinfandel from Sutter Home, and Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards, who made the first serious red Zinfandel. By 1998, Zinfandel was again California’s most widely planted fine red vine.

Zinfandel is moderately vigorous and requires a long, warm, abundantly sunny growing season with hot days and cool nights to fully develop its flavors and maintain acidity. The vine is best suited to thin, minerally, well-drained soils which help curb is high productivity.

It ripens early and notoriously unevenly, often yielding green berries and raisins on the same bunch at harvest. The semi-compact clusters bear medium sized, thick skinned dusky blue-black grapes of intense berry flavor, good acidity, firm tannins and soaring sugar levels which can reach seventeen percent potential alcohol.

Depending on care of cultivation and age of vines, Zinfandel assumes many personalities, and is occasionally blended with a bit of Petit Sirah. It also contributes to many of California’s fortified wines. Well made dry Zinfandel is an aromatic, brawny, full bodied, densely textured wine with jammy, briary flavors of black fruit, plums and raisins. It may exhibit pronounced notes of pepper, spice, rose petals and chocolate on the nose and the palate, and takes well to restrained oak contact, which lends nuances of cedar, vanilla and tobacco. Also grown in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and fourteen other U.S. states.