Zinfandel originally came to the United States from Croatia.
Although it has been called “America’s grape,” scientists have known for decades that zinfandel (just like chardonnay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and dozens of other varieties) originally came from Europe. The question was where in Europe? Thanks to DNA typing of grapevines, we know that zinfandel’s original home was the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Sometime around the 1820’s, what we now call zinfandel was brought to the United States (to Long Island) under a variety of names (zenfendel and black St. Peter’s being two). Curiously, zinfandel was also brought from Croatia to Italy, where it was named primitivo. So if you see an Italian primitivo in the wine shop, guess what? It’s zinfandel.