The Marriage of Veola’s Two Favorite Varietals

Last Friday, our talented panel of palates tasted one of my grandmother’s favorite wines, Veola. We all agreed that the Zina Hyde Cunningham 2008 Estate ‘Old Vine’ Veola is without doubt an impeccable wine. It warms my heart!

Veola is a bold, explosive blend of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. The wine is incredibly dark in color, almost black. On the nose, intriguing aromas of dark jammy overly ripe crushed blackberries are tantalizing. In the mouth, rich and stunning notes of chocolate evolve into dreamy soft cocoa, in perfect harmony with an abundance of luscious blackberry fruit, followed by a slight touch of clove and a bit of spice. All the while the palate is treated to an amazing velvety texture.

The fruit for Veola comes from our ranch in Redwood Valley. You may have read my recent blog, “Success: The Win/Win Approach,” where I wrote about the old man who put all his passion into making those very vineyards the best in the valley, achieved his dream, and then lost it all as he grew older. But after a lot of work, a dedicated team, and a generous amount of love and care, I’m seeing the vineyards thrive and they’re producing some really exceptional fruit! Every time I drink a wine from these vineyards, it’s like I’m tasting history.

As a lot of you know, Veola is named after my grandmother Edna Cunningham’s sister. Veola’s two favorite wines were Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. You can imagine how she would love the two together! And this wine highlights the best characteristics of both varietals – robust complexity from the Petite Sirah and spicy, jammy fruit from the Zin. I’d say this wine is a fitting tribute to our Veola!

The Cunningham Winery was started back in the mid1800s by my late great-great grandfather Zina Hyde Cunningham. Sadly, it was closed during prohibition by my great grandfather William Cunningham.

One of my closest friends and dear cousin, William (Bill) Cunningham, reopened the Cunningham Winery in 2004, naming it Zina Hyde Cunningham. Bill and I’ve always had an extreme passion for family and for carrying on the family tradition. I lost my dearest friend in 2008 to cancer, but our friendship and all the wonderful experiences we shared are still alive, as if he were here today.

Bill was just a few years older than I am, and an extremely bright individual. He was an assistant to the Governor of California for the Board of Education for eight years. But wine was in Bill’s blood, and he saw his dream of reviving the family winery come to fruition.

Bill and I enjoyed many bottles of Veola together, and every time I take a sip of it, I can picture the smile on Bill’s face, and the old stories start to roll through my mind.


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