FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Zinfandel: An Origin Story

In 1991, ZAP, or Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, joined with scientists at UC Davis to determine the origins of the Zinfandel grape and to develop high-quality clonal material for future vineyards. Professor Carole Meredith of UC Davis used DNA technology and worked with researchers in Italy and Croatia to discover the grape’s true origins.  She verified that a Crljenak Kaštelanski vine discovered in Croatia by scientists at the University of Zagreb was genetically identical to Zinfandel.

The origins of Zinfandel, revealed through DNA research

The origins of Zinfandel, revealed through DNA research

Courtesy of Carole Meredith

T-shirt, 2002

Every year Ravenswood staff produces a T-shirt to mark the annual harvest. The answer to the question posed on the shirt is not a “who” but a “what.” Crljenak is the Croatian grape genetically identical to Zinfandel, Ravenswood’s prime grape and production varietal. Gift of Joel Peterson.

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“Old gnarly” vines, 1999

“Old gnarly” vines, 1999

Old Zinfandel vines in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma

Zinfandel aroma wheel, about 2000

Zinfandel aroma wheel, about 2000

Scientist Ann C. Noble developed the original aroma and taste wheels for winemakers and growers. This wheel is specific to Zinfandel and aims to increase consumer knowledge among the many new fans of Zin.