Carol Shelton Zinfandels from the Queen of Zin

January 26, 2018


Carol Shelton is a pioneer in the wine industry and considered by many to be the Queen of Zin, a title she has earned by producing some of California’s finest Zinfandels. In this article we review her current Zinfandel releases, including some that were previously included in our recent Report # 61 California Zinfandel: A New Look. This report is now available for purchase at

Carol Shelton is among a small group of pioneering women winemakers in California.  In 1974 she attended UC Davis where she studied enology and carried out research on yeast strains and their different flavor characteristics.  Early in her career she experienced resistance and prejudice towards women working in the cellar.  However, she forged a career as a winemaker in Sonoma County working at Rodney Strong and Windsor Vineyards.

In 2000 Carol started her own winery handcrafting Zinfandels from exceptional vineyards throughout California. Her winery is located in Sonoma, but she sources grapes from vineyards in several regions and produces several top notch Zinfandels.  Stylistically, her Zinfandels are fruit forward with good mid-palate richness and excellent balance.

Thanks to Carol Shelton and Regal Wine Imports for providing the wines.

Wine Reviews

Carol Shelton 2015 Pizazz Zin Old Vine Zinfandel Piazza Ranch Lodi ($19) 92 Fresh, ripe, dark red fruit shows on the nose of the Pizazz Zin. On the palate, it offers dense dark red fruit with raspberry notes accompanied by earth and herbal notes. Finishes pure and long finish.  Fruit sourced from Charlie Piazza’s Lodi Vineyard and aged 20 months in 20% new American and 80% used French and American oak.

Carol Shelton 2014 Wild Thing Old Vine Zinfandel Mendocino County ($19) 91 The Wild Thing displays a dark red garnet color and lovely red berry fruit and spice on the palate. It is fruit forward with notes of underbrush and dried herbs; it has nice density, a soft texture, and a long finish. A blend of organically cultivated 80% Zinfandel, 10% Carignan, 9% Petite Sirah, and 1% Alicante Bouschet matured 10 months in 87% American and 13% French oak, 35% new.

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