Wine + Peace
Chenoa Ashton-Lewis & Will Basanta

Ashanta Wines

Zazen Zinfandel 2020





Production Notes

Most Zinfandels drink like flannel pajamas in July: too much of everything. Zazen, on the other hand, provides the crisp comfort of satin sheets with fresh fig and evergreen flavors. Taking a popularly unpopular grape and making something awe-inspiring requires vision and conviction. Yet it starts simply: good grapes. Okay, really good grapes. Here this distinction goes to organically farmed Zinfandel from the Suma Kaw Vineyard — a high-elevation (3,000 feet!) site bordered by coniferous forests and native grasslands. Chenoa and Will carefully hand sorted the grapes and fermented them (destemmed and crushed) in an open-top container. Two weeks later, the wine was transferred into neutral French oak barrels, where it aged for 11.5 months (let’s call it a year). **Barrel aging 101: new barrels add sweet vanilla and clove flavors that overpower the wine. Neutral barrels — barrels that have been used in at least four previous vintages — simply enhance what’s already there (adding style and grace as opposed to flavor).** Finally, let’s not overlook Chenoa and Will’s commitment to working as naturally as it gets: all of their wines (Zazen included) are made with zero additions — no commercial yeast, no SO2 — and are unfined/unfiltered. 95 cases were produced. 14% abv.

Zazen Zinfandel - 2020
Delete your meditation apps and let this high-elevation Zinfandel be your guide. Brisk and alluring with Mission figs, sage, dried mandarin peel.

Deep roots and new ideas. These are the defining traits of Ashanta, which has arrived on the scene with the galvanizing force of a movement. It also helps explain its founders’ combination of chutzpah and unfussy grace. Don’t blink: Chenoa Ashton-Lewis and Will Basanta are about to change California wine as you know it. The Ashton-Lewis wine story begins in the 1970s when Chenoa’s grandparents planted a vineyard atop Sonoma Mountain. Fast-forward to 2017, this 50-year-old family legacy was critically endangered when the Nun’s Fire ravaged the property. But from hardship came new beginnings: In 2019, having learned of a few surviving vines, Chenoa and Will drove up from LA (where they were both working in the film industry) to harvest the fruit. The resulting wine — an experimental co-ferment of Syrah and Pinot Noir — marked the birth of Ashanta, and set the tone for this deeply personal, mission-driven project. The couple produced their first commercial vintage the following year at the Glen Ellen facility of natural wine pioneer Tony Coturri — and they operate with a similarly uncompromising philosophy — all their wines are zero-zero (no SO2 additions), unfined, unfiltered, and fermented with native yeast. 

Chenoa Ashton-Lewis & Will Basanta

Ashanta Wines

Sonoma, CA

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Ashanta Zazen Zinfandel 2020