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El Dorado County California Zinfandel

El Dorado County California ZinfandelThe Zinfandel Mystery

Zinfandel is the second most widely planted wine grape in California and has probably existed here for nearly 200 years.  Despite the fact that it is used successfully in making everything from White Zinfandel to huge high-alcohol table wines, its origins were largely unknown until recently. 

Zinfandel is an amazingly flexible grape variety that can be used to produce semi-sweet White Zinfandel that is primarily a popular wine for introducing people to wine drinking in general.  It can also produce an excellent Rose’ style wine as well as medium bodied wines that pair well with just about any food offering.  Zinfandel can also be used for blending with other varieties, especially in the case of Bordeaux style blends where it can add an exciting element of fruitiness.   It can also be a heavy producer when raised in the warmer Central Valley which has made it a favorite for use in jug wines.  Finally, it gained its greatest notoriety in the El Dorado Region for the big, jammy, “fruit bomb” style wines that are often made here. 

Through diligent detective work and DNA testing, the roots of Zinfandel have been traced to Croatia where it is called Crljenak Kaštelanski or Tribidrag. Primitivo is also thought to be a clone of the original vines and is widely cultivated in Italy as well as California. 

Although many Europeans are unfamiliar with Zinfandel, it is a grape that can produce excellent wines.  Give Zinfandel, in all its wonderful forms, a taste and experience the mystery grape of California for yourself.   If one style does not suit you, try another or venture into a port style dessert wine made with the great Zinfandel grape.

When one thinks of Zinfandel, it usually brings up images of California and even our region, which produces some of the best Zinfandels around. After sampling the quality in its bold flavors, you may be surprised to learn that Zinfandel is not native to California. The Zinfandel grape actually originated in Croatia, where its hills and cool climate lent themselves to the success of the grape before it made its way to the United States.

Zinfandels presence in El Dorado County began with the California Gold Rush, making it deeply rooted in the history of the area.  Miners and other settlers traveled to El Dorado County in search of gold and brought with them Zinfandel grapes.  While the age of prospecting is largely gone, Zinfandel stayed, thriving in the unique terroir of our region (the grapevine’s specific environment, such as soils, sub-soils, topography, exposure to sun, temperature, seasonal rainfall, fog and other climatic conditions).

Sitting at the edge of the Sierra Nevadas, El Dorado County ranges from 1,200 feet above sea level to 3,600 feet above sea level.  Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards is located at an elevation of 2,300 feet, creating  a soil mixture of decomposed granite and crushed volcanic rock. These stressful conditions are loved by Zinfandel and are similar to its native land of Croatia.

Located above the fog line, wineries in El Dorado County sit at the perfect temperature for the grapes to mature. The long sunny summer days paired with the cool nights make it the ideal climate for the well-known California Zinfandel.

The unique terroir of El Dorado County gives Zinfandel distinctive flavors full of dark cherry, blackberry, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper, which is reflected across the many single-vineyard Zinfandels offered at Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards.  Though it may have originated in Croatia, Zinfandel has found a home and blossomed in El Dorado County.


See all our great El Dorado County California Zinfandel HERE