Welcome to the World of Winemaking! I’m having fun alphabetizing the home winemaking process – you can find the links to the other letters at the end of this post.

We’re wrapping up this A-Z Challenge with the letter “Z” of course! So let’s talk about Zymology, Zest, and Zinfandel!

Zymology: The science of fermentation. We’ve already talked about that, so we won’t rehash that here. I just like the word!

Zest: a quality a good, fresh wine might possess.

I also ran across these:

I’ll have to look into these for my next batch of sparkling wine or champagne – they’re apparently the world’s first sparkling wine closure that eliminates the risk of TCA and is one whole, solid piece with no risks of leaking, crumbling or disk separation. I’m in!

Zinfandel: iconic California grape variety. Zinfandel gives bold and rich red wines. Best examples come from old vines (i.e. Lodi). Typical Zinfandel aromas are plum (or prunes) and mint.

Zinfandel is a wine truly made famous by California. Planted in over 10 percent of all Californian vineyards, the Zinfandel grape is an important player in the California red wine industry, creating a big, ripe red wine that comes with some of the highest alcohol content of any red wine on the market (between 14 and 17 percent). Due to the hot sun of California, Zinfandels have come to be known for their jammy, fruity characteristics.

The true origination of Zinfandel was relatively unknown until very recently. When Zinfandel began to be planted widely throughout California in the mid-1800s, it was generally accepted that it was a grape indigenous to the U.S.

The vines thrived in the California climate, and many believed the grape must have existed in the region all along. It wasn’t until the 1960s when a professor from UC Davis traveled to Italy and noticed similarities between Primitivo grapes and Zinfandel grapes that people began to question the grape’s origins. Following the professor’s trip, many concluded that Primitivo was the connection to the iconic California Zinfandel, and that was that.

However, a few scientists kept wondering if this was the end of the story, so they continued to search. As DNA testing became more advanced, scientists started testing the grape, and what they finally discovered was that the grape didn’t originate in Italy at all.

In fact, the grape had no ties to any of the iconic wine regions of Europe, such as France, Italy and Spain, that were known to have brought many different grapes over to the New World during colonization. Instead, it was found that the grape was born in the last place many would expect: Croatia.

With the discovery that the grape came from Croatia came the unraveling of how it may have made it all the way to California. Between 1820 and 1829, a horticulturist in Long Island received shipments of grape vines from the Imperial Nursery in Vienna, Austria. It is believed that the Zinfandel vines were included in those shipments.

From this point, the vine made its way across the country during the California Gold Rush and the rest is history.

One of the most popular types of Zinfandel is what is known as Old Vine Zin; these are wines that are made from Californian grapes grown on vines that are at least fifty years old. These Zinfandels are known to be even bigger in flavor and intensity than their younger counterparts and are considered to create a more premium version of the wine, therefore Old Vine Zinfandel commands a higher price.

Zinfandel Old Vines

Winemaking is so much fun – at least for me – and am tickled every time I give the wine I make as gifts to friends and family who love drinking it as much as I love making it. While we go through this alphabetical series on winemaking, if you have any burning questions, be sure to ask them in the comments below, and I’ll reply there – and maybe even highlight your specific question(s) in a future post!

Thank you so much for joining me in this fun adventure!

Here are the links from the rest of the alphabet for your convenience, in case you missed any:

A for Aromas, Acidity and Appearance
B for Barrels, Bottles and Blackberry Wine
C for Color, Clarity, Carboys and Cherry Wine
D for Decanting and Decanters
E for Equipment
F for Fermentation
G for Glass and Grape
H for Harvest
I for Infusion
for Jeroboam and Jug
K for Kabinett
L for Leaf, Label and Lees
M for Merlot, Muscat and Must
N – the Nose has it!
O for Oak and Oxidation
P for Palate and Press
Q for Quality
R for Racking and Riddling
S for Sweet and Sanitary
T for Taste and Tasting
U for Ullage
V for Verjus
 for Wine, Water, Wood and more!
X for X Marks the Spot?
Y for Yeast


  1. It’s fascinating what we can find out through DNA now, and congratulations on completing the challenge!

  2. I never knew what Zinfandel was, very interesting. Congrats on completing the challenge! I really think you should make these posts into an ebook.

  3. Stacy,

    Congrats on completing the A2Z challenge with your series on wine making! This isn’t a topic of interest to me since I do not drink but I do love grapes and the ones in the above pictures look fabulous! Have you ever eaten any? Have you ever made non-alcoholic wine? Is it the fermenting process that turns the components into alcohol? I definitely need to read your post on this subject.

    I’m glad this passion gives you joy, as that’s what a hobby should do. You did a fabulous job breaking down the various points of interest (or at least the ones I had the privilege to read) in your series. Thanks for sharing something you love with us!

    Art Sketching Through the Alphabet “Z”

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