Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine

By Charles L. Sullivan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
BOOM! 1872–1890

This was the first grape from which good red wine was made in California. PROFESSOR GEORGE HUSMANN, 1896

THE INDUSTRIAL AND AGRICULTURAL DEPRESSION THAT GRIPPED the United States from 1873 to 1878 hurt California wine producers and acted as a brake on vineyard expansion. The prices of all agricultural products were battered, and yet the amount of wine shipped out of state to the East Coast grew—partly a result of a decline in wine imports from France, whose vineyards were being wasted by the phylloxera root louse. The producers of California's best table wines, such as Lefranc and Pellier in the Santa Clara Valley, Krug and Groezinger in Napa, and Dresel and De Turk in Sonoma, made money and survived. Even though prices were rock-bottom, they and several others clearly demonstrated that good table wine could be made profitably in the northern coastal valleys of California. Their efforts provided strong evidence for the growing belief that this region, not Southern California, would be the future home of California's premium table wine industry.

What reputation Northern California was gaining for its table wines derived primarily from its whites in the Germanic style. Red table wines, usually labeled claret or burgundy, were made mostly from Mission grapes, which still dominated, even in Napa and Sonoma in the early 1870s. Whatever California vintners thought of the Zinfandel and Cinsaut, the reality was in their

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