Old Grapes, New Ferment
Innovations in grape growing, winemaking, and marketing that began in the 1950s reinvented the California wine industry. Yet there were many more changes to come in the wine being made and in those who were making and drinking it. Those changes reflected a blending of old and new, and embraced the revival of tradition along with continuing innovation.
How pink wine saved old vines
Zinfandel was one of the grapes associated with cheap jug wines widely produced after Repeal. During the replanting of California’s vineyards in the 1960s and 1970s, acres of Zinfandel were ripped out to make way for the new darlings of the vineyards, Cabernet and Chardonnay.
One vintner who kept his Zinfandel grapes was Bob Trinchero of the Sutter Home Winery, who used them to produce a dry, rosé-style wine. In 1975, while his grapes were fermenting, the yeast died before the wine’s sugar was converted to alcohol. He decided to try selling the resulting slightly sweet pink wine. Many Americans still had a “sweet tooth” for wine, and his “blush,” called White Zinfandel, was a runaway hit.