One of the most popular and customary wines of Amador County is Zinfandel. While many grape varieties thrive here, the Zinfandel is still the king. The grapes have adapted well to the terroir, reaching their ideal ripeness in the mountainous terrain and soil.
Origins of Zinfandel
While the history of the zinfandel grape is somewhat of a mystery, much of what we have learned has come from scientific research. Many felt that these grapes shared the DNA characteristic of the Primitivo, an Italy variety, but the proof was considered inconclusive. More recently, however, researchers have pinned down the origin to a Croatia grape, the Pravac Mali, as the source.
In the end, it turns out that the Pravac Mali was, in fact, a product of mixing the Croatian Dobricic grape and the Zinfandel. So today, it can be assumed that Zinfandel likely evolved in Croatia.
Zinfandel in California
The Zinfandel grape came to California in the late 1800s, a re-plant following the epidemic of phylloxera that devastated the grape crop. By 1888, estimates show that Zinfandel had become extremely important as one-third of the vineyards were planted in this crucial variety.
Following Prohibition, Zinfandel again became the most important varietal among California bulk-wine producers.
By the 1070s, winemakers noted the tendency for wine drinkers to switch to white wines. As a result, they began producing “white” Zinfandel, a popular fad for a decade or so.
By the 1990s, tastes had changed again, and many California producers were selling their red Zinfandels to compete with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other red wines.
Zinfandel’s Versatility and Diversity Today
Zinfandel grapes remain extremely popular, both as a single varietal and as a blend with other wines to create an ideal flavor. These blends are robust and spicy or can become elegant rosés and dessert wines.
But, like most wines, the flavor profiles can vary depending on the location of the grapes, winemaking techniques, and aging process. The expert winemaker who works with this marvelous variety is in tune with the effects the wine can produce each year.
California Wine Regions
Zinfandel grapes are grown in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Amador County. Because the grapes thrive in mountainous, ancient lava vineyards, the grapes happen to be the premier grape raised in Gold Country, Amador County.
Pairing Your Zinfandel
Zinfandel comes in various styles, from light and juicy to a potent “killer” that can be paired nicely with red meats and other hearty dishes. Think about a smoked chili or possibly any barbequed meats. In most cases, the strength of the flavors calls for a more robust meal to pair.
Consider pairing with those pasta dishes and sauces with strong flavors. And the wine pairs well with bleu cheese or other strong-flavored cheeses.
Zinfandel’s Role in California Wine Growth
Zinfandel has been in California since the mid-1800s. The varietal has always been important, although many other varietals are now present. For about 170 years, Zinfandel has played a role in California and is finding homes in new locations.
This variety remains an essential part of California’s wine development, as noted by the support of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) and all the wine events and tastings throughout the year.
Scott Harvey Wines Latest Zinfandels
One of the principal varietals produced by Scott Harvey Wines of Plymouth, California, is the Zinfandel.
After years of working in Napa Valley producing exceptional wines, Harvey has moved east to enjoy the more relaxed and creative environment of Amador County.
Sample his best in Zinfandels. To reserve your place for a wine tasting at one of Scott Harvey Wines’ three tasting rooms, visit the winery website.
Or you can phone for reservations by dialing 209-245-3670.