Curious About Zinfandel?

All American? No wait, Italian? Sorry, Croatian! Zinfandel is a grape that has travelled the world and picked up a couple of aliases along the way. 

This grape is known for its ability to make a range of wine styles, from lighter and more medium body productions to a fuller rendition of the wine with concentrated jammy qualities and a spiced character. Zinfandel made a name for itself in California through the work of great wineries along its long and winding journey. One winery at the top of translating the life of Zinfandel in the glass is Seghesio Family Vineyards.


The Seghesio- Zinfandel Connection 

Sonoma County, California, is synonymous with Zinfandel. This is the crème de la crème region for the grape. Sonoma Zins are dry, complex, and filled with jammy red and black fruit notes with a rustic finish. Seghesio has been producing Zinfandel-made wines from the start. This year they show off the expression of Sonoma Zin with their 2020 Sonoma County Zinfandel, which just hit LCBO and wine store shelves.

Seghesio Family Vineyards entered into winemaking in 1895. Started by Italian immigrants Edoardo Seghesio and his wife, Angela. Zinfandel grapes were the first vines that they planted. 125 vintages and the love for Zinfandel has yet to fade five generations later. Well known for their multitude of expressions of the Zinfandel grape. Growing the grape in the California AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) of Rockpile, Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley, Knights Valley, and the Russian River Valley. Making an expression of Zinfandel from each area. 

The 2020 Sonoma County Zinfandel is a blend of vineyards within the region, aged in mainly neutral barrels. Filled with notes of black currant, plums, black olive, allspice, and raspberry. Followed by a flavour that is lively and powerful with a lingering finish. The final result in the glass is the wine that shows what Sonoma Zin can do. 

This kind of wine makes it easy to see why nearly a quarter of all the red wines in Sonoma are from Zinfandel grapes. From first plantings to surviving Prohibition, Zinfandel’s long history in the area has cemented itself as a ‘Heritage Grape’. But the question is, how did Zinfandel make its way to California?

From Croatia to California

Back in the 1930s, Zinfandel was considered a grape that was just a part of the American winemaking landscape. You would never guess that the real name, the very first name, of Zinfandel, would be Crljenak Kaštelanski (Surl-YEN-ack Cas-tuh-LON-skee) – although the more common Croatia name usage today is Tribidrag (Tree-B-drag). Before arriving state-side in the 1820s, the grape had already moved through the Austrian Empire and Italy. Zinfandel, AKA Tribidrag, AKA Primitivo, had already made its mark on the wine-loving world in Europe before arriving at Long Island Grape Grower, George Gibbs vine nursery in the 1820s. Making the long journey to California 30 years later, just in time for the Gold Rush era. But by the 1960s, the truth about Zinfandels origin’s came to light. 

The entire history of Zinfandel was utterly unknown until ‘Zinquest’ was kicked off by Mike Grgich. The Croatian-born winemaker noticed that Zinfandel looked a lot like Plavac Mali and encouraged Carole Meredith of the University of California at Davis in 1998 to work with the University of Zagreb in Croatia to dive into the origins of Zinfandel. It was already proved in the 60s that Zinfandel was related to its Italian version, Primitivo. While the study didn’t come up with Plavac Mali as the Croatian-Zinfandel connection but its parent grape Tribidrag instead, the untold story of Zinfandel was finally out in the open.

Adding Some More Zinfandel To Your Life

What is truly unique about Zinfandel is that this grape has been able to touch so many cultures and winemaking styles. There are few wine grapes with a similar story and with the gained ability to be so pairable in the process. 

Zinfandels are delightfully food-friendly wines. Versatile and expressive, this wine style’s jammy and rustic notes can shine with dishes that bring spice, meatiness, veg-heavy options, and even deserts, depending on what is served. West Indian style Lamb Curry, Seafood Arrabbiata Pasta, and Paneer Tikka or veggie Biryani are fabulous options that would pair perfectly with the 2020 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel.

Explore the world of Zinfandel to the fullest. Find the latest vintage of Seghesio’s Sonoma classic on LCBO and wine store shelves.