Designation Article

Black Chicken

Last edited on 9/29/2010 by Brian1970
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[Winery notes]: Aldo Answers The Call. “Hello Aldo, this is Giovanni. I’m fine, thank you. Per favore, when you come by on Friday bring me some tomatoes, a pound of walnuts, two dozen eggs and a black chicken… Prego.” This was a typical phone order to the rural farmhouse on north Napa’s El Centro Avenue in the 1940’s and ‘50’s. In 1942, Aldo Biale and his mother Christina were left to run the family farm in Napa after Pietro Biale died in an industrial accident. To make a little extra money during those lean years, teenaged Aldo began making barrels of Zinfandel from which he would bottle wine for his family and friends in need of good table wine. Aldo’s home phone was on a party line where nosy neighbors could listen in on calls. To maintain privacy. he instituted the code name, “black chicken,” for his wine. This system of phone call orders for produce, eggs and “black chickens” lasted for decades and even Aldo’s immigrant bride, Clementina, wasn’t in on the code for years. Today, we bottle this special (and fully legal) Zinfandel from the Biale family and nearby vineyards in memory of the old days. If you live in Napa, there’s still free delivery.