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