Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine

Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine

Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine

Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and Its Wine


"A lively, well-researched and entertaining account of California's favorite grape. Illuminating."--Gerald Asher, author of "The Pleasures of Wine

"The Zinfandel grape makes a fine wine. The story of its development also recapitulates and epitomizes the history of California from the Mission Era to the present. Enjoy, then, Charles Sullivan's masterful chronicle of the grape and the wine that best bespeak the sun, the soil, the hillside vineyards, the joy of life that is our beloved California!"--Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

"The mystery of Zinfandel has always had two sides: historical and scientific. As Charles Sullivan relates, the science has now been demystified by Dr. Carole Meredith of the University of California at Davis. The head sleuth on the historical side is Sullivan himself, who, in his long-awaited book, applies the painstaking rigor of a scholar in tracing the path of the grape."--David Darlington, author of "Zin: The History and Mystery of Zinfandel

"Finally, an authoritative and readable book that details history of the Zinfandel grape. Charles Sullivan lovingly blends California wine lore, primary source research and personal history into a thoughtful, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable chronicle of the Zinfandel-tainted California wine trade. This book is mandatory reading for those who love veracity, wine and a story well told."--Joel Peterson, Winemaker and Founder Ravenswood Winery


Charles Sullivan's timely book presents a full history of the grape that is at the heart of California's contribution to the world of fine wine. Just as Bordeaux established the reputation of Cabernet Sauvignon, Burgundy of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and the northern Rhône of Syrah, so California has established Zinfandel and set its standard of excellence. California today challenges, as do other wine regions of the world, the supremacy of the great wines of France. But with those varietals we are the challengers; we did not establish their reputation.

Zinfandel cuttings from California thrive in Australia, South Africa, and the south of France, as well as in a number of other countries. The same grape variety has been grown in southern Italy since the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century under the name Primitivo, yet the wines produced have failed to establish a reputation for quality. As all these wines improve, they, too, will become challengers. I hope they will push California Zinfandels to still higher quality.

We now know that Zinfandel is not originally from Italy, but some California producers are worried because of that country's extensive Primitivo plantings. There are clonal variations within any old varietal; on this basis . . .

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