top of page

The History of Zinfandel in California is a colorful one ... it's RED

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Our Healdsburg wine tours and Sonoma Wine tours both have wineries that specialize in zinfandel, our favorite varietal
Zinfandel being pour into a wine glass on a Healdsbug wine tour

Zinfandel is a red wine grape. It is used to make varietal and blended wines. The grape was imported to the United States from Croatia in 1796 by Agoston Haraszthy, a Hungarian nobleman who had immigrated to America after being exiled for political reasons.

Haraszthy planted a vineyard in California's Sonoma Valley and was able to produce wine from his Zinfandel vines in 1859. Zinfandel was one of the first grapes planted in California, and it soon became a favorite for winemakers because of its high productivity. The wine produced from Zinfandel grapes is rich, dark red in color and full-bodied with fruity flavors. The name Zinfandel comes from the German word for “young wine.” In other countries, the grape is known as Primitivo, but it doesn't have a proper name in Croatia where it originated. Zinfandel was almost extinct due to its susceptibility to Pierce's Disease. The disease causes leaves on vines to wither and die, making it difficult for the plant to grow or produce fruit.

Today there are many different types of Zinfandels grown around the world; however they share similar characteristics that make them easy to recognize because they all have rich aromas of black fruit and spices like cinnamon, pepper or clove . The grape is also known for having low acidity, which makes it a good choice for making wines with higher alcohol content. Zinfandels are grown in many regions around the world including California and Australia. It’s one of the most widely planted grapes in California, where it is often blended with other varieties such as Carignan, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah or Barbera.

Some of our favorite wineries in Sonoma County prominently feature Zinfandel in their tasting flights. One of the best things about Zinfandel is that it pairs well with a wide variety of foods. It’s a great choice for pairing with spicy dishes like Indian curry or Thai food, but also works well with barbecue, Mexican food or even pasta. The wine has a bright ruby color and a complex aroma of blackberry, cherry, vanilla and spice. The palate is rich with ripe fruit flavors that are well balanced by subtle acidity. This wine is ready to drink now or can be cellared for up to five years before opening.

Our Healdsburg wine tours are a lot of fun.  The wineries we visit specialize in Zinfandel, and Healdsburg and the dry creek valley is the best zinfandel groing region
Sonoma Wine Rides bus during a Healdsburg Wine Tour

The next time you visit Sonoma County book your wine tasting tour with Sonoma Wine Rides and we will more than likely see Zinfandel at at least one of the wineries we visit on our tour.


bottom of page