"We feel that because it's a commentary on California history and agriculture, [passage of] the bill should be successful," said Rebecca Robinson, executive director of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting the Zinfandel grape and its wines. The 5,500-member group hosts a well-attended Zinfandel tasting in San Francisco every winter.
Zinfandel's pre-U.S. history is somewhat unclear, though it may have originated in eastern Europe, where it is no longer grown. The red grape found its way to a nursery on Long Island, N.Y., in the early 1800s and was popular in New England in the 1830s. It was brought to California during the 1849 gold rush, and by the 1880s, it had achieved its position as the most widely planted red grape in the state. Some of the century-old vines still produce grapes.
Zinfandel is now grown in 15 U.S. states, including California. The grape has also found a new home in Italy, where vintners call it Primitivo; current theory holds that the Italian vines came from American-grown cuttings of Zinfandel.
The creation of Zinfandel Appreciation Week requires passage by the full Senate and House of Representatives. Robinson remains confident. "We've got a year to get this done," she said. "That will set the stage for the 2001 Zinfandel Festival [in San Francisco]. It will also be the 10th anniversary of the founding of ZAP."
For more on Zinfandel Advocates and Producers:
For James Laube's most recent tasting report: