WINEMAKER, CEO, RIDGE VINEYARDS
CHARLESSULLIVAN'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,