...their wines just fade away, or they are reincarnated as another winery.
When the fruit in a wine has all but disappeared sometimes all that we are left with is the information on the label. Sometimes we don't even have that. So what do we have here?
Let's start with the Beringer. This is a historical Napa Valley winery that is still in existence, albeit now owned by multi-national Beringer Blass Wine Estates. The label on this wine tells you all the pertinent stuff you would want to know about the bottles contents; varietal - Zinfandel, valley - Napa, vintage - 1974, and alcohol - 12 1/2% (a ha, a fraction. No silly decimals back in those days). Beringer were very obviously on top of things back in the 1970s.
The 1985 Merlion Chardonnay hails from the Napa Valley also. This defunct winery was located in the St. Helena AVA although the label just claims Napa Valley as the source of the wine, which I assume means that the fruit was not from the aforementioned AVA. The alcohol content is not listed so there is not even a hint as to the alcoholic punch that the summer of '85 endowed upon this particular vintage. The winery may be long gone but a signature tasting glass, designed by Merlion owner George Vierra, endures.
The Christain Brothers, (now Hess), Napa Rosé declares an alcohol content of of 12%. However, there is no vintage or mention of grape varietal. The Brothers used more label space on extolling the virtues of their "anytime wine" rather than waste it on all the regulatory nonsense required on current day wines.
Last but not least, the Carneros Creek California Red Table Wine. This property now operates as Folio Winemakers Studio (a Michael Mondavi venture), a collection of wine companies in the Los Carneros AVA. This extremely simple label does not divulge the vintage, alcohol content or even the varietal of the grapes. How can I be sure that it is even wine?
How times have changed. Compared with the draconian governmental stipulations wineries have to comply with nowadays when they put together their labels for subsequent releases, the wineries of decades past had it easy.
I don't feel inclined to taste any of these antiquated wines, to me they are more like museum pieces, unless somebody dares me of course.