by Fred McMillin
for June 11, 1999


Winery of the Week

The Zin Man


Rosenblum Cellars  
Sunday, June 13, is an important date in the history of the most widely planted red wine grape in the Golden State, as follows:

    "June 13,1846—Meeting of Massachusetts Horticultural Society at which J. Fiske Allen of Salem, Mass., displayed the "Zinfindal" [sic] grape, possibly Zin's first appearance in the United States."

...Dick Rosano's Wine Calendar, Accord Publishing

The Rest of the Story

Since June 13 is a Zinfandel milestone, our Winery of the Week makes some of the world's best Zins, Rosenblum Cellars. I checked the last dozen Zins my panel has tasted blind, four Rosenblums and eight others. Here's how the four did against the average of the competition.

% Over Score of Rivals Vintage Price Wine
21% '96 $24 Rosenblum Zin, St. Peters Church Vnyd., Sonoma County
24% '96 $26 Rosenblum Zin, Cullinane Vnyd., Sonoma Valley
29% '96 $21 Rosenblum Zin, Howell Mtn., Napa Valley
31% '96 $26 Rosenblum Zin, Hendry Vnyd., Napa Valley

Critics confirm my panel's results... Wine historian Charles Sullivan—Over a decade ago Kent Rosenblum was recognized as one of the very best Zin producers in the state. Critic James Halliday—The quality and consistency of Rosenblum Zins is wholly exceptional. The wines have tremendous fruit concentration, depth and structure, but never excessively tannic.

If that weren't enough, our Annex "March Madness" described the blind tasting of 16 California dessert wines. Four different Rosenblum dessert Zinfandels were entered. Tournament results? Rosenblum bottles finished 4th, 2nd and FIRST! I'm convinced this guy must be joined at the hip with Zin.

Just the Facts

Rosenblum Cellars, Bonded Winery 5139
Alameda, S.F. Bay Area
Contact—(510) 865-7007, FX (510) 865-9225
The Beginning—Kent's first vintage was five gallons of 1973 Riesling made in his home. Today's capacity is more like 40,000 cases a year.


For those interested in origins, vines with various spellings of Zinfandel were bouncing around New England nurseries for about 15 years before Mr. Allen's documented display in 1846. The location of its middle-European origin is still unknown. However, U C -Davis is hot on the trail, so stay tuned.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
Fred McMillin


Welcome to WineDay, the electronic Gourmet Guide's daily update. Monday through Thursday, WineDay presents a wine profile. Then on Fridays we present the Winery of the Week to take you through the weekend.


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