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The Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard Project
Preserving Heritage; Promoting Excellence
The Research
UC Davis Viticulturist Dr. James Wolpert, along with the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology and UC Extension Viticulturist Emeritus Amand Kasimatis understood that the most effective way to improve Zinfandel would be to go back to its origin to make selections for replication. This model had worked for other varieties but it wouldn’t be so simple for Zinfandel because the origins of the varietal were just becoming known. The Primitivo variety in Puglia, Italy, was found to be genetically identical to Zinfandel; however, Italians were sure it was not one of their traditional varietals. Additionally, no one organization had done much work to search for varietal ariability. Zinfandel was found to be identical to the Croatian winegrape Crljenak Kaštelanski but the remaining vines discovered in the region were scarce and not found in commercial vineyards.

Along with Sonoma County Farm Advisor Rhonda Smith and Napa County Farm Advisor Ed Weber, Wolpert and Kasimatis took what they called “Zinfandel Safaris” to more than 100 vineyards throughout California to collect selections for the Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard Project. The initial selections were based on a few criteria: vines had to be older than 60 years; carry small berries and loose clusters; and be free of visual “red leaf” symptoms, which could indicate leafroll or corky bark viruses. Research on 90 selections from 50 vineyards in 14 counties was conducted in three phases at the Oakville Experimental Vineyard beginning in 1995.

To read the complete article, including the history of the Oakville Experiemental Vineyard phase development: click here to download.
The Zinfandel Chronicles
The Heritage Vineyard Project
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Interview with Joel Peterson
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Research Data
Heritage Vineyard Data 2005-2009
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Research Progress Reports
2012 Progress Report
2011 Progress Report
2010 Summary Report
2010 Progress Report
2009 Progress Report
2008 Progress Report
2007 Progress Report
2005-06 Progress Report
2004 Progress Report
2003 Progress Report
2002 Progress Report not available
2001 Progress Report
2000 Progress Report not available
1999 Progress Report not available
1998 Progress Report
Heritage Vineyard Protocols
Phase 3 Protocol
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Small Lot Winemaking Protocol
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