A Brief History of Zinfandel

Archaeological evidence shows that Zinfandel vines were planted very early in Croatia and that they have been in that region longer than anywhere else in the world. However, in the late 19th Century, a bad bout of phylloxera, a type of sap-sucking insect, took over and destroyed all but nine vines on the Dalmatian Coast.

Zinfandel arrived in the U.S. sometime in the early 1800’s from various locations in Europe and was cultivated by a Long Island horticulturist named George Gibbs. The basis for the first Zinfandel creation in California is a bit hazy but it’s said to have been done by Joseph Osborne in the 1850s, and by the end of the 19th century, it was the most widespread variety planted in all of California.

The connection was made between a locally grown grape called Primitivo and the Zinfandel after a researcher from UC Davis traveled to Italy and discovered the similarities. DNA tests were performed to prove that yes, these mysterious grapes were actually the Zinfandel from Croatia.


The red Zin explodes with fruit flavors like blueberry, black plum, cherry, and cranberry, and is complemented by notes of black pepper and licorice. White Zinfandel tends to be extremely sweet, almost like a Moscato, and with less decipherable flavors, which makes it a great summer wine. There tends to be a stereotype that “true wine drinkers don’t drink white zin” but we believe you should drink what you love!

These days, California is by far the largest producer of both white and red Zinfandel, making it the third most popular varietal planted in CA with more than 44,000 acres throughout the state. The climate and terroir of California present unique qualities of each Zinfandel based on the region in which it was grown, which is why they’re so popular!

You can still get a great Zinfandel from countries around the world, like Australia and Italy, but they’re harder to find.

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