In the 1860s, the image of Zinfandel as a fine claret grape developed and was continually reinforced.
Charles M. Weber of Stockton was the first in the San Jose area to show “Zinfindal” under that name at the Santa Clara State Fair.
Anthony P. Smith made his first wine from Zeinfandall.
The Transactions of the California State Agricultural Society contain several references to Zinfandel. James Nickerson of Folsom thought Black Zinfandel was the best variety they had for red table wine. William Flint, a Sacramento New Englander praised it. Even James Marshall, the man who discovered gold in 1848, had the variety in his Coloma nursery. References to Black St. Peters here and there in the Sierra Foothills can also be found but there are no references after 1860.
James Warren publisher of the California Farmer is attracted to Zinfandel Grapes after visiting Charles Couvilleaud’s vineyard in Marysville. He describes it carefully.
William Boggs was awarded the Silver Cup at the County Fair for developing Sonoma’s best small vineyard. In his book Zinfandel, Charles Sullivan states that William Boggs was the man whose testimony in 1880 set the record straight about how Zinfandel came to Northern California.
Haraszthy leaves for Europe to collect varietals of all sorts to test in the California environment. When he returned he had a list of hundreds of varietals, both well known and obscure but it contains nothing that can be taken for Zinfandel.
The Civil War begins.
The report of the California State Agricultural Commission lamented that no more than 1% of the Sonoma wine crop would come from “foreign” varieties. The report directed special praise for the wine being made in Sonoma from Black Zinfandel.
Thomas Hart Hyatt of the Pacific Rural Press found that both the Zinfandel and the Black St. Peters were going into the Buena Vista’s Sonoma red wine. By then several Sonoma vineyardists were growing Zinfandel according to Hyatt.
First big year for Zinfandel. The Alta California asked Napa’s Jacob Schram for the name of the best red wine grape available and he told them it was the “Zenfenthal.” Later he spelled it “Zinfendel.”
Report from California Agricultural Commission praised Zinfandel for making a very fine wine, resembling the finest brands of clarets imported.
The newspaper Alta California reports a stampede of growers looking for Zinfandel cuttings.
Pierre Hypolite Dallidet is documented by the Tribune as making wine at this time.
Sonoma’s John Snyder was awarded a silver medal at the Mechanics Institute for his “Zifenthal.”
In the Lodi area, north of Stockton in the San Joaquin County, George West founded the El Pinal Winery. Zinfandel was one of his favorite varieties. In fact, it was the only red wine he showed at the 1883 viticulture convention in San Francisco. West had started making white Zinfandel, a pink wine, from his free-run juice in 1869. He was so successful that in his 1884 report viticulture commissioner Charles Wetmore specifically recommended that Zinfandel be classified as a white grape in the San Joaquin Valley. In 2002 San Joaquin County had more than 20,000 acres of Zinfandel, four times as many as second-place Sonoma. The Lodi area became very important for the production of White Zinfandel, a wine that became very successful in the 1980s. This is important because in the 1980s red zinfandel becomes very unpopular, and growers were beginning to pull it out and replace. The owner of Sutter Home Winery developed white Zinfandel and made it very popular which saved the Zinfandel vines from complete destruction.
Completion of the transcontinental railroad brings a new wave of immigrants to San Luis Obispo County, including German families with their own wines and winemaking traditions.