FAT YEARS, 1991–2001
A glowing, freewheeling economy has allowed consumers to pursue luxury wines like never before.
JAMES LAUBE, WINE SPECTATOR, 2001
EXCEPT FOR THE WINES OF A FEW SMALL PRODUCERS IN THE LODI area, none of the rich and powerful Zinfandel wines that were the driving force of red Zinfandel's revival and boom in the 1990s came from the Central Valley. The beautiful and well-muscled red phoenix that rose up during that decade and continues its popularity in the new century comes overwhelmingly from the coastal valleys north of Santa Barbara and from the Sierra Foothills.
The interest in California Zinfandel in the 1990s took off like the stock market of those years. But the next decade has seen no bear market for producers and no slaking the thirst of Zinfandel consumers, many of whom (though a distinct minority) have been willing to pay as much for a bottle of old-vine Sonoma Zinfandel as for a Second Growth Grand Cru Bordeaux.
One of the most important Zinfandel events of the 1990s took place at San Francisco's Mandarin Hotel in 1992, where a certain producer/consumer group, organized the year before, held its first wine tasting. There were but twenty-two producers on hand, pouring young wine to about a hundred tasters. No fanfare preceded the event, and certainly no mob scenes marked it. The organization, Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, is known as ZAP.