Cypress Vineyards is a brand owned by legendary producer J Lohr. Their ethos is simple - to capture everything that makes California so good for wine. They’re not wines designed for the cellar, or for pleasing critics - they’re wines for everyday drinking, wines that are made extremely well, and most importantly, that represent their region. This wine is their California Zinfandel.
The History of Zinfandel
Zinfandel is potentially the grape most synonymous with just one region, and of course that region is California. But how it came to be so loved in the Golden State is an interesting story.
We now know that Zinfandel is very closely related (almost identical) to Italian grape Primitivo and that it likely originated in Croatia. But it never had a big foothold in Europe. When settlers arrived in the area and began growing wine, Zinfandel was inadvertently planted. It turned out the Cali climate was perfect for the grape and it began to thrive in the hot, dry summers.
When prohibition arrived, many people produced wine at home (claiming medicinal requirements). Zin was an easy home brew as it grew easily and vigorously and had few tannins or structural elements which meant you could make something drinkable without much fuss.
After prohibition ended it became very fashionable to drink Zin, and while Cabernet eventually usurped it as top dog in California, it has always retained cult status, with wine drinkers around the world devoted to the unique style of ripe, sometimes jammy wine it produces.
Zin has declined in terms of volume, predominantly due to the price of vineyard land and therefore the requirement for winemakers to plant more expensive varieties to cover the costs. But there are still a number of wineries making Zinfandel, especially in hotter AVA’s such as Lodi (pronounced Low-dye) and Dry Creek in Sonoma. It remains an integral and important grape in California, and this wine is a great example of the value and fun one can have with it.
An energetic and rambunctious Zin. When you think about the qualities that define good Zinfandel, they’re all here - the ripeness (verging on jamminess) of the fruit (Zin is one of the few grapes where jamminess is an acceptable quality), the boldness, the touch of sweetness, and the mouth-watering juiciness of it all. This wine has background notes of cola and sweet bonfire smoke. It’s not sappy or flabby at all - there is good acidity present, which makes it the ideal wine for a late summer BBQ.