The California wine industry is on the rise. Many of these wines can be considered among the world's best. But California is the undisputed champ when it comes to Zinfandel. At their best these wines are complex, rich and spicy. Look to Seghesio as one of the most consistently fine Zinfandels. Below we have recipes chosen specifically for this grape and more information regarding the wine's history.

Quick Zinfandel Facts:

It was recently discovered that both the Primitivo grape of Southern Italy and California's ZInfandel grape are identical to a Croatian variety known as Crljenak Kastelanski. Before this connection was made, there were only 20 vines of the Croatian grape known to exist. Now it is under quarantine at U.C. Davis and will be made available to growers in three to five years.

In 1998, the acreage of Zinfandel vineyards in California exceeded 50,000. At that time it made Zinfandel the most widely planted grape in the state. However, according to the 2005 Californnia Grape Acreage Report, Zinfandel ranked fourth behind Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The name of the Primitivo grape comes from the Latin word "primitivus" which translate as precocious. It was given the name because of its tendency to ripen earlier than most other wine grapes.

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Click on the above link to return to the main wine and food page. There you will find a listing of twelve different varieties of wine and the menus specially chosen to create perfect pairings. Zinfandel is a powerful and spicy wine. The perfect pairing will be rich and full flavored. Click the black bars above each photo to view the recipes.
The history of the Zinfandel grape is filled with mystery and controversy. In fact the cloudy past of the grape added to its mystique and popularity. During the first "wine boom" in California from 1878 to 1889, it was to most widely planted variety. But modern science has a way of shining an unflattering light on many mysteries. In 1967 a researcher at the University of California Davis identified genetic similarities between Zinfandel and the lowly Primitivo grape of Southern Italy. As the fog was clearing, the bottom was falling out of the Zinfandel market only to be rescued by marketing genius and an American taste for sweet, pink wines. Enter White Zinfandel. Since 1967 the story of Zinfandel and its arrival in the new world has become somewhat clearer. It is believed that the first Zinfandel vines were brought to California in the 1850's by Agoston Haraszthy. This Hungarian immigrant has been called the "father of California wine" and even though he was not the first to bring the wine grape to California, he did return from travels in Europe with over 100,000 cuttings which he sold to hopeful vintners throughout Sonoma County thereby insuring his place in California wine history.
In the early years of California winemaking Zinfandel was used to produce inexpensive jug wines or as a blend with other red varieties. But lately the grape has been making its own noise on the international wine scene. This new found success is in stark contrast to the 1980's when Zinfandel nearly found itself at the end of its road. Most Americans were more familiar with the European varieties and did not know what to make of this "American" grape. And rightly so. The wine made from the Zinfandel grape was being marketed in a dizzying array of styles and qualities from sweet and pink to dark and heady. In fact most people didn't know anything other than the ubiquitous White Zinfandel. One reason for all of the confusion lay in the grape itself. Zinfandel ripens very unevenly. The same bunch can contain grapes that are green and unripe as well as grapes that are over ripe and raisiny. Styles were difficult to predict from vintage to vintage. But California winemakers have been fighting hard to change that impression. Many producers are now leaning toward a riper, higher alcohol wine which means that the best Zinfandels can compare favorably with the renowned Cabernet Sauvignon.
Primitivo is the European twin of the Zinfandel grape. It is believed to have been first brought to Southern Italy by the Greeks. The wine was nurtured by the Benedictine monks in the 17th Century and its popularity grew, much like that of Zinfandel, as a great grape for blends. It was officially recognized by the Italian government as a varietal in the 1970's and its reputation has been growing ever since. It now has achieved a sort of cult status as an inexpensive, yet delicious light and fruity wine. Since the relationship with Zinfandel has been established, many Italians winemakers have been trying to ride the coat tails of the reputation of the American version in an interesting reversal of roles. To the consternation of California vintners some Italian Primitivo is being bottled under the name Zinfandel!