Zinfandel’s versatility and the immense popularity of White Zinfandel in the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s leaves many people wondering how many types of Zinfandel actually exist. The truth is that the red Zinfandel grape can be used to produce a broad range of wines ranging from White Zinfandel to some of the biggest, boldest and highest alcohol wines available. To add to the confusion, Zinfandel has been determined to be the same grape as Italy’s Primitivo.

Due to Zinfandel’s tendency towards uneven ripening, Zinfandel is either harvested over a number of days or is allowed to hang on the vine for an extended period of time to ensure full ripening. Extended hang time, in addition to Zinfandel’s medium tannin levels and low to medium acidity levels, typically results in full-bodied, soft, lush wines that are often described as jammy or, if to excess, flabby. This soft, full-bodied fruitiness also makes Zinfandel an excellent wine to match with grilled meats. This combination also means that Zinfandel is not generally a good candidate for aging; most Zinfandels should be drunk within three to five years of release.

Zinfandel’s hardiness and disease resistance has resulted in many Zinfandel vines that are 100 years old. Although there is a heated debate regarding how old vines needs to be to be considered “old vines”, most winemakers use the term to describe vines that are over forty years old. Although older vines produce smaller crops that allow grapes to ripen more evenly, the term old vine is not an indication of the quality of the wine within the bottle.

To help rescue Zinfandel’s legacy, a group of winegrowers joined together to create the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP). ZAP consists of over 5,000 members and is dedicated to advancing public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history. The common focus is the preservation and recognition of Zinfandel as America's wine. ZAP organizes seminars, educational programs, and tastings at wineries and other settings across the United States to explain the uniqueness of the Zinfandel grape.

California is the undisputed Zinfandel leader, but Oregon and Washington have also seen some success.

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Top Zinfandel Regions:

    Russian River Valley AVA - Winery Search
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