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A History of a Grape and Its Wine

Charles L. Sullivan (Author), Paul Draper (Foreword)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 246 pages
ISBN: 9780520239692
September 2003
$38.95, £30.00
Other Formats Available:
The Zinfandel grape—currently producing big, rich, luscious styles of red wine—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 caliber of its wines and its remarkable versatility, and in part because of the mystery surrounding its origins. Charles Sullivan, a leading expert on the history of California wine, has at last written the definitive history of Zinfandel. Here he brings together his deep knowledge of wine with the results of his extensive research on the grape in the United States and Europe in a book that will entertain and enlighten wine aficionados and casual enthusiasts. In this lively book, Sullivan 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 remarkable grape.

Sullivan reconstructs Zinfandel's journey through history—taking us from Austria to the East Coast of the U.S. 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 most 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.
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations

1. How I Solved the Historical Mysteries Surrounding Zinfandel—Sort Of
2. Sojourn in the East
3. Ho! For California!
4. Plant Your Vineyards! Begin Now!
5. Boom! 1872–1890
6. The Haraszthy Myth
7. The Stealth Grape, 1891–1918
8. Prohibition and the Fresh Grape Deal, 1919–1933
9. The Two Faces of Zin, 1934–1969
10. Of Pendulums and Roller Coasters, 1970–1990
11. Fat Years, 1991–2001
12. The Mystery of Origins Solved—Probably
13. Into the New Century

Appendix: Regional Summaries
Select Bibliography
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).
“If you particularly like zinfandel, take a look at Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and its Wine, for a specialist view.”—Associated Press
“Wine buffs, scholars, and historians will appreciate the author’s painstaking archival search.”—Mark Knoblauch Booklist
“I consider Charles Sullivan to be, perhaps, the best wine historian of our era. His books and articles are always perfectly researched and well-written. His latest book is no exception. . . .Every Zinfandel lover will want to read this book.”—Bob Foster California Grapevine
“Zinfandel is associated more closely with the U.S. than any other grape. Its dark purple juice has made lip-staining reds since the late 1800s, as well as a sweet, pink juice that’s one of the most popular wines in restaurants across the States. How the grape got here, however, turns out to have been a mystery with as many twists as a John Grisham novel, with false starts, dead ends, lies and even a murder. . . .[A] terrific book.”—Tara Q. Thomas Denver Post
“This book is the best history and contemporary guide to the most versatile grape on the planet.”—Northwest Herald Online
“Sullivan is the single most important wine historian alive today, and this book has been in research for decades. It is a ‘must read’ for all who love the grape. . . .I love this book.”—Charles E. Olken Oakland Tribune
“Scholarly and fun”—Alan W. Bock Orange County Register
"Zinfandel is the top wine book for 2003."—Quarterly Review Of Wines
“A tight, amiable and intelligent read.”—Mike Dunne Sacramento Bee
“Noted wine historian Sullivan traces the history of California's signature wine and reports on the fairly recent solving of the mystery of where Zinfandel originated. It's Croatia, yet the story is quite complicated and Sullivan fully plays it out until the end. This is a must-read for Zin fanatics and those interested in the history of California winemaking.”—Linda Murphy San Francisco Chronicle
“Zinfanatics should rush to their favorite bookstores to purchase a copy of Zinfandel: A History of a Grape and its Wine by wine historian Charles Sullivan. . . .Sullivan’s easy writing style and his scholarly research makes for a fascinating read.”—George Starke St Helena Star
“Combining his encyclopedic knowledge of wine with extensive research in the U.S. and Europe, Sullivan dispels the false legends around Agoston Haraszthy and Italian primitivo and documents Zin’s journey from Austria to our East Coast in the 1820s to Gold Rush California. Look for great old sepia photos of serious-minded wine men in mustaches and long black coats, plus glimpses of the golden future of this unique varietal, revealed by a serious historian, whose love of wine comes shining through.”—Claudia Conlon The Wine News
“The story of how zinfandel came to the U.S. is worthy of a Russian novel: a long and confusing one, with missing records, lies told out of love and simple misunderstandings. Sullivan has been tracking the grape for about 30 years, and with this book he sets the record as straight as it’s ever been.”—Wine & Spirits Magazine
“A well-constructed book, one that fills a much-needed niche in any serious wine lover’s library.”—David Furer Wine Business Monthly
“Sullivan convincingly debunks the malarkey that ‘Count’ Agostin Haraszthy, who founded Buena Vista Winery, introduced Zinfandel to California. . . .He also digs into the bigger mystery of Zinfandel’s original identity. . . .With personable prose, Sullivan weaves it all together for a delicious read.”—Harvey Steiman Wine Spectator
"A lively, well-researched and entertaining account of California's favorite grape. Illuminating."—Gerald Asher, author of The Pleasures of Wine

"The Zinfandel grape makes a fine wine. The story of its development also recapitulates and epitomizes the history of California from the Mission Era to the present. Enjoy, then, Charles Sullivan's masterful chronicle of the grape and the wine that best bespeak the sun, the soil, the hillside vineyards, the joy of life that is our beloved California!"—Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

"The mystery of Zinfandel has always had two sides: historical and scientific. As Charles Sullivan relates, the science has now been demystified by Dr. Carole Meredith of the University of California at Davis. The head sleuth on the historical side is Sullivan himself, who, in his long-awaited book, applies the painstaking rigor of a scholar in tracing the path of the grape."—David Darlington, author of Zin: The History and Mystery of Zinfandel

"Finally, an authoritative and readable book that details history of the Zinfandel grape. Charles Sullivan lovingly blends California wine lore, primary source research and personal history into a thoughtful, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable chronicle of the Zinfandel-tainted California wine trade. This book is mandatory reading for those who love veracity, wine and a story well told."—Joel Peterson, Winemaker and Founder Ravenswood Winery

Finalist, James Beard Foundation Awards, James Beard Foundation

Veuve Clicquot Wine Book of the Year, Veuve Clicquot, Inc.

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