Zinfandel wine is a type of red that is often overlooked. It's not as widely grown as others, but perfect for those that like big, flavorful reds.
This type became a big part of the California wine industry starting in the 1880s. A lot of controversy has surrounded it as it is difficult to grow well, although Dry Creek Valley wineries in Sonoma County are starting to master it.
Here are some Zinfandel grapes from a winery near Dry Creek Valley. These were taken in early August - just as the grapes are starting to ripen.
For years, its history and origin were unknown. In the early 1990s, the industry decided it was time to learn more about it and conducted DNA testing.
The results of the testing linked it back to a wine grown primarily in Italy, with origins in Croatia, called Primitivo. On my recent visit to Croatia, many locals were proud of their connection to the California wine industry.
According to them, this local moved to California and brought some plants with him. He seemed to be a little bit of a local celebrity, since many people I talked to told me the same story.
Today, it is still primarily grown in California - with the Northern California counties growing the largest amount in the state. You will also find some great Zins coming out of the Sierra Foothills and Lodi regions - also in California.
The Zinfandel in the picture to the right is one I recently tried in Nevada City - in the Sierra Foothills. The Zins from here are fruity and medium bodied. You can also still find some great values on these wines here.
Other places you will find some Zins are at Washington State wineries, in Australia and most recently in South Africa.
It is challenging to grow since it has the tendency to grow unevenly and can rot easily. It needs just the right temperature and altitude to grow well.
Another interesting fact about it is that you will run across different types of Zinfandel such as old vine, white, late harvest and others. Each type is different with unique characteristics. I'd recommend that you taste a few different kinds to learn more about what you like.
The old vine zins were vines originally planted in California many, many years ago and these vines are still producing quality grapes. It happens to be one of my favorite reds due to the variety available and because I'm spoiled living so close to the region that's mastered it, Dry Creek Valley.
Here are some of my favorites:
*Prices are estimates and may change at any time.
Find some of these and other great Zinfandel wines online.
Learn more about the other popular types of reds including:
Also, learn more about these regional red types:
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