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At a glance

Country of Origin: Other
Region of Origin: Croatia
Typical Product: Red
Structure: Medium
Climate: Warm to Hot, Dry
Soil Type: Well drained/Low Fertility
Serving Temp: 57 - 61F
Ageability: 3 to 7
Sauces to Pair:
Meals to Pair:
Other Names*: Primativo


At last some clarity is being shed on Zinfandel's true origins which likely arose in modern day Croatia and then migrated to Italy although when is unknown.  For centuries it traced three paths under three different names Crljenak Kastelanski in Croatia (don't try and say it, you'll hurt your jaw, trust me) and both Zinfandel and Primitivo in Italy.  Recent DNA testing done by UC Davis is shown all three varieties to be genetically identical.  Just to further confuse the issue, more recent testing seems to indicate that Zinfandel is a clone of Primitivo therefore, all Zinfandels are Primitivos  but not all Primitivos are not Zinfandels.  However, in its infinite wisdom, the US TTB still recognizes Primitivo and Zinfandel as two different varietals.

If the US can lay claim to having a national wine, it's 'Zin'.  Although not forgotten by the rest of the world, it certainly occupied a small niche.  It was brought to California before the gold rush of 1849 and was one of the most widely available wines until prohibition.  When wine began its comeback in the 1960s, there were thousands of acres of Zinfandel vines ready to be cared for.  Many of them were already over 100 years old and while production dropped, the fruit from these vines had immense flavor and intensity.  This re-ignited a new love affair with Zinfandel and more acreage was planted.  It's now found it's way to Australia where it is just now gaining wide spread acceptance.  The US love affair with Zinfandel has even returned to its roots in Europe where it's being 'discovered' all over again.

Zinfandel likes warm to hot climates and a long growing season, which is why it was so widely planted in the Central Valley of California.  Excessive or prolonged heat can turn it somewhat 'raisiny' however.  It's a vigorous grower and can heavily over fruit so substantial thinning of grape clusters needs to occur.  Zinfandel is drought tolerant and many wine makers are now dry farming to limit fruit production and concrete the flavors into an intense, dark wine.  Unlike most other grapes, Zinfandel grapes within cluster often ripen at different rates.  It's not unusual during harvest to have raisins, ripe grapes and some still showing hints of green within a single cluster.  This is not the wine for winemakers that like uniformity and order.  Zinfandel's traditional style is a medium bodied, slightly fruity wine that often shows hints of spice, leather or earth.  In the 1980's Sutter Home winery had a batch of Zinfandel that was taken off the skins too quickly, accidentally creating a sweet, blush version of the wine.  Rather than throw out the entire batch, they shared (or inflicted - depending on your point of view) this wine with the world.  White Zin relaunched a whole genre of wines in the US - the sweet rose.  Many people's first foray into the wine worlds started with White Zinfandel.  Wine labeled as Old Vine is often harvested from plants that are over 100 years old.  These plants produce about 1/3 the fruit of mature plants but the grapes have an intensity not found in normal Zinfandels.  Late Harvest Zinfandels are made from grapes that are left to reach their peak sugar content.  When fermented the yeast create such high alcohol levels that they die leaving substantial amounts of residual sugars in the wine.  The sweet dessert varieties often bear more of a resemblance to Port than normal drinking Zins.

Note that for this site, we treat Zinfandel and Priitivo as identical varietals.  However, we when we show them as part of the currently tasting and selling section of a Winery's page, we will put the name under which the fruit is know by the TTB first.  For instance, if a vineyard is classified as Primitivo, on, it will be classified as "Primitivo (Zinfandel)".  Conversely, if the acreage is knows as Zin, we will classify it as "Zinfandel (Primitivo)"
* used in California

Show Me Wineries That Are Selling This Wine With Expanded Listings On

(Please click on the Winery name for more information)

Name Vintage Year Price Tasting Comments
2007  $30.00  Listed as Primitivo 
Byington Winery
2006  $14.00  Hastings Ranch 
Dark Star
2010  $28.00   
Vino Noceto
2008  $29.00  Original Grandpere Vineyard 
Wood Family
2008  $28.00  Hansen Ranch 
Wood Family
2009  $28.00  Muy Bueno 
2008  $25.00  Private Reserve, Estate 
Eberle Winery
2008  $26.00   
Deaver Vineyards
2006  $25.00   
Deaver Vineyards
2008  $25.00  Nana's Vineyard 
Deaver Vineyards
2008  $26.00  Henry's House 
Deaver Vineyards
2008  $28.00  Signature 
Deaver Vineyards
2006  $30.00  Late Harvest 
Deaver Vineyards
2008  $28.00  Old Vine 1867 
Deaver Vineyards
2007  $28.00  Signature 
Deaver Vineyards
2009  $27.00  Signature - Labeled as Primativo 
Deaver Vineyards
2008  $26.00   
Deaver Vineyards
2008  $28.00  Signature-Ten Zin 
Callaway Vineyard
2009  $32.00  Special Selection 
Paraiso Vinyards
2009  $30.00  Irei 
Dunning Vineyards
2009  $38.00  Private Reserve 
Dunning Vineyards
2009  $30.00  Estate Ridge Top 
Thomas Coyne Winery
2010  $24.00   
Les Chenes
2009  $28.00   
Bent Creek Winery
2008  $25.00   
Eckert Estate Winery
2009  $18.00   
Peachy Canyon Winery
2008  $21.00  Reserve Westside Zinfandel 
Peachy Canyon Winery
2010  $19.00  Westside Zinfandel 
Peachy Canyon Winery
2011  $38.00  Savior 
Tanis Vineyards
2008  $26.00   
Bray Vineyards
2009  $21.00   
Bray Vineyards
2009  $22.00   
Karmere Vineyards & Winery
  $19.49  Zinfandel Angie's 
Karmere Vineyards & Winery
2006  $19.49  Empress Hayley Zinfandel  
Karmere Vineyards & Winery
  $20.42  Daisy Zinfandel  
2008  $20.00  Zinfandel Reposado 
2008  $24.00  Xinfandel (Zinfandel Reserva) 
2009  $24.00  Primativo Reposado 
2009  $28.00  Zen-Zin, Estate 
2009  $28.00  Oh-So-Zin 
2009  $32.00  Estate 
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