Christina Chiavoni
March 14, 2014 | Epoch's Blog | Christina Chiavoni

Zinfandel in a Nutshell



1829 - Imported from Austrian imperial nursery in Vienna by George Gibbs of Long Island

1832 - Gibbs took it to Boston and it was for sale at a nursery by the names Zenfendel/Zinfindal as a table grape!

1835 - 1845 introduced to California! 

1878 - Became the most widely planted which lead to California’s first wine boom

1890 - Adolf Siot planted Zin west of Templeton

1915 - Paderewski planted Zin in Paso!!!!

1920s/30s - Zin started to become more popular in Paso

  • Planted by many in the area including the following Italian families...Dusi, Martinelli, Busi, Vosti and Bianchi – many of which are still being farmed today by the families’ third and fourth generations.

1972 - Sutter Home made the first White Zin --> The wave of blush wines began!

1990s - DNA testing revealed Zin is the same as Primitivo (Italian Variety)

  • Side note: Zin arrived in California before Primitivo arrived in Italy.

1998 - Cabernet Sauvignon surpassed Zin as the most widely planted red grape in California

2004 - Planted by EPOCH on the Paderewski Vineyard!!!!

2006 - California legislature designated Zinfandel as California’s official historical wine 

2007 - Makes first appearance in an EPOCH wine (2007 Ing - 1%!)

2008 - First 100% Zinfandel made by EPOCH

Today - 3rd leading wine grape variety in CA, more than 47,000 acres planted (Over 10% of CA).

Fun Facts

  • Origin - Croatia 
    • According to DNA fingerprinting Zinfandel is genetically identical to a Croatian variety, Crljenak Kastelanski (only contradicting fact on the name: Wine Bible says Plavac Mali - further searching in Oxford Companion to Wine, “Plavac Mali is a cross between Zin and Dobricic”)
    • Primitivo (Italian variety) is Zinfandel’s genetic twin (but they are different!, even labeling laws state that you cannot use them interchangeably) 
      • PRIMITIVO  - Italian, ripens earlier, more even ripening and therefore easier to grow
      • ZINFANDEL - American (Californian), uneven ripening, clusters compact
  • Old Vine Zin has no legal definition (typically the vines are at least 40 years old, some over 100!)
  • Growing Zinfandel can be very difficult:
    • Clusters are compact and have uneven ripening, therefore likes long growing seasons
    • Berries have thin skins
    • Likes growing on hillsides for proper drainage

Zinfandel in Epoch Wines 

2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 ZINFANDEL | 2007, 2009  INGENUITY | 2009 ESTATE BLEND


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