History of Zinfandel

Getting to Know Zinfandel

You can start out by knowing just two things about Zinfandel- that it is red, and that it is good, but dig a little deeper and do a little research, and you will find an interesting, beloved and historic wine.

A Short History of the Zinfandel Grape Varietal

Known in Europe as “Primitivo,” the Zinfandel wine grape was first brought to the United States from Vienna in the 1820's, where it was grown in greenhouses due to the cooler climate. After extending its roots to California a decade later, the Zinfandel grape soon became the most widespread varietal in the United States by the 19th century.

Its popularity extended into the beginning of prohibition, during which it remained in high demand on the west coast for such “acceptable” uses as sacramental wine, and remained trendy for home winemakers, as well.

The Creation of White Zinfandel in the 70's

Due to the Zinfandel grape's small, tight bunches, its skin was quick to rot on the extended cross-country train rides to the east coast, where it fell in popularity. The creation of it's less-respected cousin White Zinfandel wine in the 1970's opened up a larger market for the grape, thus sustaining it's status through the 1990's, when a market for finer wines emerged and red Zinfandel's appreciation was reborn.

While Zinfandel is allowed to be marketed as either Zinfandel or Primitivo in the United States, our fellow Italian wine friends are slightly less obliging with the name. The wine is solely marketed as Primitivo in Europe.

Historic Zinfandel - a Popular California Varietal Wine

Today, the Zinfandel grape accounts for over 23% of the total vineyard territory and was even so popular as to be nominated as California's “historic wine,” by the state's senate- a bill that was unfortunately vetoed by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Unfortunately the California Governor did not choose to sign the bill, but we believe one taste of a Robert Goodman Zinfandel wine might change his mind.

Also See our wine and food chart. What ever California Red Wine you choose remember the cardinal rule:  Serve what you enjoy; and serve it generously!

Glass of Zinfandel - photo of zinfadel

The Zinfandel history tells how this wine became a popular California varietal.


Robert Goodman Winery
937 I0th St., Arcata, CA  95521
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