His name doesn’t appear on wine bottles. He is not a winery employee. He doesn’t even make his living in the wine industry. But for the last 20 years one man has been helping to bottle wines at most of the urban wineries based in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
‘Not even the guys who own the mobile bottling trucks will touch that many wines each year’, says Chris Brockway, owner and winemaker at Broc Cellars in Berkeley, California where the picture above, and below with pet-nat bottles, was taken. ‘I was having a conversation with another winemaker the other day, and he was basically asking, “What is the deal with this guy? He seems to be everywhere.”’
Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that this self-employed architect has personally had a greater impact on wine production among the Bay Area’s small wineries than any other individual in recent history.
Ken Zinns was born and raised in the city of San Francisco, and while he is well-travelled, his home has always been the Bay Area. He lives and works, doing architecture for residential home remodels and additions, out of his Oakland apartment. Contentedly self-employed, he relishes his flexible schedule, which has given him the opportunity to spend time doing what he really loves to do, which is to help people get their wine into bottles.
This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is usually available only to subscribers of her web site. If you’re not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It’s only £8.50 a month or £85 per year ($11/mo or $111 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and maps from the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.
Photo of Ken Zinns bottling pét-nat at Broc Cellars by Russell Obana.