FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1999---All of ZAP's producer members were sent a marketing survey in early 1999. What follows is an "executive report"-style summary of the results:
The majority of ZAP producer members make other varietals as well.
One member winery was making Zinfandel in 1940. New members join and are planting Zinfandel vineyards every day.
Retail prices for Zinfandel range from $5.99 to $40.00. The responses to our survey spanned:
1997 Zinfandel case production [of our members who responded] ranged from 180 cases to 175,000.
What about the importance of estate-grown grapes? That doesn't seem to be as important today: as many of you use 100% estate-grown grapes as buy all of your grapes (25% each).
"In what year do you feel your Zinfandel caught on with the public?" was answered every possible way, from "since day 1" to "we're still waiting" to "has not caught on in the broad market."
"What do you feel has been the single biggest change in the marketplace since you started producing Zinfandel?" There were many "markers" cited by all of you: these include:
"Who is your typical Zinfandel customer?" We didn't expect a consensus answer on this question, and we were right. Probably most of us-or the outside world, at any rate-assumed everyone would answer (as many of you did) "free spirits, anti-snobs, adventurous wine drinkers," "anyone who likes to have fun," "Zin nuts," "non-mainstream wine buyers, scientists, college professors, people who don't wear suits," just as many answered that the typical Zin customer is "fairly knowledgeable, daring enough to be different," "knows CA wine and producers at a greater level than the average consumer," "value conscious consumers," "food lovers," "A to Z," wine drinkers and food eaters rather than wine and food tasters" and "very wide range, not really typical, young and old, men and women, generally much more hang-loose and less pretentious than the crowds at Cabernet bashes."
"What style of Zinfandel do you feel is most popular with American consumers today?" was answered primarily as "big:"
There was some difference of opinion:
"Will preferred Zinfandel style change in ten years?" Again, no consensus here, with answers split between the "bigger, bolder spicier" camp and "gradual move to more refined styles, better oak treatment but still lots of ripe fruit," "alcohol levels more in check as well as less oak, styled after southern Rhones, good fruit-driven wines," "more claret style, food friendly with less wood and alcohol for ageability" and "more elegance" and "ever increasing focus on single vineyards."
"Biggest obstacle to increased sales in the US today?" Many astute answers here, including:
What conclusions can we draw? Certainly we have learned that there is a continuing need to define and differentiate Zinfandel. There is a critical need to continue educating. We've learned that there are very few only-Zinfandel producers out there. There's quite a difference of opinion about when---and/or if---Zinfandel has caught on with the public.
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Zinfandel Advocates & Producers
PO Box 1487
Rough & Ready, CA 95975