The Zinfandel vine is commonly associated with California, but it originated in Europe, either in Southern Italy or in Austria. The original California vines most likely came from Austria to the east coast of the United States and then moved west with settlers. DNA fingerprinting recently proved that Zinfandel and Primitivo are the same vine, but there is speculation that the vines in Italy were brought over from the U.S..
Zinfandel is a black grape that produces high sugar levels and can produce very good wine if yield is limited. Zinfandel benefits from a long, fairly cool growing season. This variety ripens unevenly, so harvesting can be labor intensive and spread over a long period. Due to the thin skins of the Zinfandel grape, the fruit must be harvested quickly when ripe or they can quickly turn to raisins. Benefits from aging in oak.