Some wine lovers like to treat a viticultural tour like a buffet. And why not? With so many amazing varietals spread before you, sampling a little bit of everything allows you to flit the world of wines, and figure out what you like.

But if you already have a favorite bottle, like a desert island bottle that you’d be happy sipping to the exclusion of all others, a tasting trip may instead be an opportunity to dive deep and see just how diverse your favorite grape can get.

We’ve noticed that fans of the infamous Zinfandel tend to be die-hard. If this is you, look no further for a list of Napa wineries offering Zins to die for.

What makes a great Zinfandel

Zinfandel, sometimes called Primitivo, is an ancient red grape varietal that is now grown in over 10 percent of California’s many vineyards. Still a common bottle to see on shelves and tasting menus, the varietal’s popularity experienced a crash during prohibition from which it never recovered. Cabernet Sauvignon also upstaged Zin as the top grape in the Napa Valley following the former’s historic win in the Paris Tasting of 1976. But what Zinfandel lacks in ubiquity it makes up for in excellence, a unique flavor profile, and a high alcohol content.

Zin grapes have a high sugar content compared to their peers, meaning a greater proof in the final product. This feature also lends a juiciness, and a tasting profile that is typically berry-forward with a bite of spice at the finish. Common notes include jammy blueberries, ripe cherries, and licorice.

How to taste Zinfandel

A relatively high tannic structure means Zins should be given room to breathe following corkage. Ideally, especially for hard reds like Zin, you would decant your wine or let it rest in the goblet to let it aerate and soften before enjoying.

Zins like to be poured into a relatively narrow goblet that lets you experience its complex aromas without breathing in the stronger alcoholic vapors, which can disrupt the experience. Swirling your wine around the glass can help to further aerate and soften the tannins. 

Or, you can try pairing the wine with a delicious treat! Zinfandels go incredibly well with many strong, savory delights such as oily garlic fries or cheddar cheese. The strength of the Zin helps to cut through the fattiness of each of these dishes, while their umami notes tenderize Zin’s tannins and elevate the fruitier elements of the wine.

Top spots for Zin in the Napa Valley

Are you rarin’ to find your next glass of Zin, now? So are we. And here are a few fabulous Napa Valley wineries where we could meet.

The Biale Vineyards have been Napa’s leading Zinfandel champion since the grape’s crash post-prohibition. In 1937, founder Pietro Biale planted Zinfandel vines amongst the other crops the farmer was growing for food – and the rest is history.

The winery sells a huge variety of Zins, sourced from 17 vineyards across the Napa Valley. Fans of the varietal can book a tasting experience on the Robert Biale back porch, or tour the estate and enjoy a flight of gorgeous Zins made only from the choicest plants in the region.

  • Ink Grade
    This small vineyard sits nestled amongst the evergreens of Napa’s Vaca Mountains, where the Zinfandel grapes ripen high in the sun, and with their own very special view. The Zinfandel plant is hardy, drought resistant, and loves dry soils, making it a favorite of Ink Grade winemaker Matt Taylor for growth in a California vineyard.

    Visitors to the estate can take a traditional tour, or experience a virtual journey through an immersive video projection that guides you through each season on the land, all with a glass in your hand. Lover’s of Zinfandel must taste the Andosol Red Field Blend, a Zin-heavy bottle with just a splash of Cab Sauv in to soften the blow.
  • Clif Family Winery
    From the creators of the iconic Clif bar comes an undeniably delectable collection of Zinfandel. The Clif family’s relationship to wine evolved out of their love of food, and desire to bring convenient, tasty nutrition to active individuals on the go. Moving from manufacture to farming, adding wine grapes to their crops was as natural as the ingredients in their bars.

    There are a few ways Zin lovers can sample the vineyard’s products: a tasting room can be booked for private or group experiences, or foodies with a more mobile tasting style can belly up to the Clif Family Food Truck to order a glass of Zinfandel with Funghi Bruschetta.


Companions of the Zinfandel-obsessed will be delighted to find Zinfandel Gris among storybook’s many Zin-themed offerings. And the Zin-obsessed themselves will be delighted to find a vast selection of single-vineyard bottles of truly top quality Zinfandel both in their shop, and at their tasting table.

Originally named Grimm Vineyards for the brothers who first broke land on this site, Storybook survived prohibition as a source of sacramental and medicinal wines, but was lost to wildfire in 1964. 

12 years later, the soon-to-be owners fell in love with the wildness of the place, and revived the site and its surviving wine caves to start fresh, planting a large crop of Zinfandel. The first bottle, released in 1983, won a gold medal, securing a permanent place on the map for this small mountain vineyard. Storybook’s Zinfandels now rank among the top 6 in the world.

The vineyard offers an extremely affordable tour rate – which can be waived with the purchase of 2 bottles – wherein visitors can walk the caves and vineyards, relax in a stunning redwood grove, and, of course, sample lots and lots of Zin.

Old Vine Wine Tours

Book your next Napa Valley wine adventure with Old Vine Wine Tours today.