Delightful Lighter Zinfandel from Sonoma – Meet Bodkin Wines

While he cannot say he is the second, third or even fifth generation winemaker in his family, Chris Christensen of Bodkin Wines can say he is self-taught, promotes inclusion, and makes a kick-butt tasty, skin-contact Zinfandel. By the way, he is the first generation.

I stumbled upon his wine quite by chance at Tessa’s Office (small wine shop) in Rochester, MN while handling family items with the hubby. My quest for two specific, same vintage Napa Chardonnay styles for a tasting upon returning to Bordeaux took me there. Although they had neither, I had a blast looking around. Tessa carries mostly small craft producers who make wine in a sustainable method (e.g., organic, biodynamic, etc.).

Standing at the exit chatting with the sales person, a wine in the corner on a higher shelf stood out. I missed that bottle with a label that caught my eye!

Turns out, I never tasted a Zinfandel made in the fashion Christensen made this wine.

Not knowing the producer, I looked it up and ended up walking out with a bottle.

Who is Christiansen?

African American vintner Chris Christiansen worked at smaller wineries for some years and did a harvest in Australia before launching Bodkin Wines in 2011. His operation is based in Sonoma Valley (either Healdsburg or Sebastopol, did not nail that down yet). He sources most of his grapes from sustainable growers further north, up in Lake County.

Several articles about him are floating around so I’ll stop there. See the end of my blog post for links to get the low-down on Christensen.

Light Skinned 2021

Mark and I absolutely dug this Bodkin Wines 3-day skin macerated Zinfandel, slightly chilled on a warm spring evening. It’s a deeper colored rosé or light red (you choose!) and reminded me of the category I call Terroir Rosé – those that have more to say than simply crisp and bright. For more on that, click here and here.

A while back, Christiansen decided on spontaneous fermentation (utilizing yeasts that naturally occur on grapes) and a more natural approach to winemaking with all his wines. The result is undeniable with this particular wine – a delightful crescendo of acidity boasting cherry, watermelon and strawberry aromas and flavors with a savory slant of dried, fermented herbs. Price: $18. Alcohol: 13.1%.

How about that label?!?

In researching the wine, I read the color of it parallels his own family’s mixed-race heritage. To celebrate that, the label emojis represent family members: his three nieces, his sister, Chris himself, his brother, his son, his father, and his daughter.

I end with an item I loved from one of the articles I read, a quote from Chris.

“… we don’t believe that handcrafted wine has to cost an arm and a leg. So we aim to make wines at a price we’d be happy to pay …”

Chris Christenson via VinePair article

You can find Christenson’s wines in various states and stores in the United States (including Tessa’s Office) and on the Bodkin Wines Website.

See my Bodkin Light Skinned Instagram post!

Articles about Christenson

Chris Christenson of Bodkin Wines is Inventing New Wines and Promoting Inclusion

40 Under 40 Tastemaker 2020

Maker Spotlight: Chris Christenson

The Winemaker Behind America’s First Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

This wine maven from Cedar Rapids is shaking up the industry, one bottle of sparkling sauv at a time

2 thoughts on “Delightful Lighter Zinfandel from Sonoma – Meet Bodkin Wines

  1. Allison Wallace

    Always love a new discovery from you and this one definitely looks like it has everything we love–passion, talent and tasty! I can’t seem to find it up here but we’ll definitely look for it when we cross the border next!

    1. Lynn Post author

      I thought I stumbled upon his wines being available in BC but could be mistaken. At any rate, it’s such a nice discovery that I hope you are able to find. Thanks for stopping by!


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