The Zinfandel grape - producing big, rich, luscious styles of red wine in the early-21st century - has a large, loyal, even fanatical following in California and around the world. The grape, grown predominantly in California, has acquired an almost mythic status - in part because of the calibre of its wines and its remarkable versatility, and in part because of the mystery surrounding its origins. Charles Sullivan, an expert on the history of California wine, has written a definitive history of Zinfandel. Here he brings together his knowledge of wine with the results of his extensive research on the grape in the United States and Europe in a book that should enlighten wine aficionados and casual enthusiasts. He dispels the false legend that has obscured Zinfandel's history for almost a century, reveals the latest scientific findings about the grape's European roots, shares his thoughts on the quality of the wines now being produced, and looks to the future of this grape. Sullivan reconstructs Zinfandel's journey through history - taking us from Austria to the East Coast of the US in the 1820s, to Gold Rush California, and through the early days of the state's wine industry.
He considers the ups and downs of the grape's popularity, including its recent and, according to Sullivan, most brilliant "up". He also unravels the two great mysteries surrounding Zinfandel: the myth of Agoston Haraszthy's role in importing Zinfandel; and the heated controversy over the relationship between California Zinfandel and Italian Primitivo. Sullivan ends with his assessments of the 2001 and 2002 vintages, firmly setting the history of Zinfandel into the chronicles of grape history.
Twenty-five years ago Leon Adams, the dean of California wine writers, named Charles L. Sullivan "the modern historian of wine in California." Among Sullivan's books are A Companion to California Wine: An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present (California, 1998) and Napa Wine: A History from Mission Days to the Present (1994).