Zinfandel the American - or Californian - grape. Although it's not from America
(Croatia has been named its origin),
it does seem quite at home in the vineyards of California.
During Prohibition, many
Zinfandel vines survived as the high-yielding grape was popular both for home winemaking and communion wine, which is why so many old vines are still around today. The variety grows
well in the warm, sunny - but not too hot - regions of California and is succeptible to uneven ripening and high yields. In the 1970s, when red wine lacked a following, Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home Winery crafted a sweet pink concoction from the Zinfandel grape, and the White Zinfandel craze was born. As that craze has dwindled, artisan production of the grape in its natural, red form has resurfaced.
While Zinfandel is grown many places in the country, its most popular and successful
region is California. Appellations producing delicious Zinfandel wines include
specifically Dry Creek Valley, Napa, the North Coast, the Central Coast,
and the Sierra Foothills.
Zinfandel stands out with its very berry intensity and exotic spice notes. In some jammy fruit will dominate, in others, it's the spice that wows the palate.
Summing it up Successful Sites: California
Common Descriptors: raspberry, briary, blackberry, pepper, exotic spice
Learn More About California
California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.