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6 Things to Know About Zinfandel

6 Things to Know About Zinfandel

Whether fruity and jammy or spicy and elegant, Zinfandel is a hearty red with a wonderful pour.  It’s a perfect match with pepperoni pizza or spicy curry dishes, as well as with fine cuts of beef.  It can even be used to spice up cranberry sauce. Here are six things to know about Zinfandel.

1. The mystery around it has been solved. Despite various theories over the decades, DNA evidence now tells us it hails from Croatia. It is also very similar to the Italian Primitivo grape.

2. It is considered California’s heritage grape. Believed to have been first planted in California in the 1850s, there are vines well over 100 years old in Amador country and Sonoma. There is no legal definition of “old vine,” but 40+ year old vines are typically considered old by winemakers.

3. It ages gracefully. When well-made, it has the structure to improve in age like a Cabernet.

4. It has wings! Well, it has a “wing” which is like a second, smaller bunch growing off to one side.

Gnekow winemaker David Brown holding Zinfandel grapes

Gnekow winemaker David Brown holding winged Zinfandel grapes.

5. White Zin saved it. In 1972, Sutter Home famously created their extremely popular White Zinfandel. While some wine lovers consider this an “entry level” wine, we have this pink pleaser to thank for today’s wonderful old-vine Zins. Its popularity ensured that Zinfandel vines were not grafted over when red Zin fell out of favor in the late 70s.

6. People LOVE it. It has an official promotional organization, ZAP, and its own event. Until Cabernet Sauvignon passed it in 90s, it was the most widely planted red grape in California. The most popular wine we have ever featured is Gnekow Family Campus Oaks Old Vine Zin.

The California Wine Club - Gnekow 2012 Old Vine Zin

Cheers to this Zinfully delicious favorite!

Discover more great wine with The California Wine Club. Since 1990, it’s been our wine club’s mission to help artisan wineries share their small-batch wines with wine enthusiasts everywhere. At The California Wine Club we happen to think these wines simply taste better than the mass-produced wines that dominate store shelves.

We visit the wineries, meet the families and winemakers behind the wines and then invite them to share their favorite wines with our wine club members. Every wine featured in our wine of the month club comes from a real-working winery.


16 Responses

  1. Don Sills says:

    Love this wine. I include it in every re-order I make. My favorite red. It just has taste characteristics that are pleasing. Fantastic job Mr. Wine maker. Don’t stop.

  2. Vince says:

    Great info!!!

  3. Jim Gordon says:

    This is our favorite wine – Most of my friends also think it’s great!

  4. Don Sills says:

    My favorite wine to order from the California Wine club. Always a consistent pour, heart and great taste. Love it. Don

    • Karen D says:

      We are glad you’ve found a favorite! We love it too, Don. It is simply a great pour. Cheers, Karen

  5. Callista O Chukwunenye says:

    Hands down my favorite for so many year. My friends automatically assign me to bring the wine whenever we have a get together because they know I will bring Campus Oaks Old Vine Zin. Sooo good!!!

    Do you have the Campus Oaks wine glasses in the picture for purchase? Thank you.

    • Karen D says:

      Thank you, Callista! We think the Campus Oaks Old Vine Zin is delicious, too. Their winery glasses are very pretty, but unfortunately, we do not have any of them. That picture is one that we took on a visit to the winery. If you would like to reach out to winery, you can contact them at,, 209-463-0697. Cheers to you!

  6. Deborah Charek says:

    I have lost count of number of cases I’ve purchased over the years.It is,and always will be my go-to red. I never get tired of the big flavors this wine offers! Thanks for a consistently fabulous wine!

    • Karen D says:

      We love this wine, too, Deborah! Thank you for trusting us to find great wines crafted at small wineries for you. Cheers!

  7. ted koch says:

    Love a big bold zin.

  8. Joanne C. says:

    Campus Oaks Zin is always a treat! I have to give a shout out to The Frank Family’s Zin as well! Hopefully that one comes back soon……

    • Karen D says:

      Thank you, Joanne! We love both Campus Oaks and The Frank Family’s Zinfandels–soooo tasty! We have some other great Zinfandels lined up as well–hopefully you’ll enjoy them too! Cheers to you!

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