The Italian grape Primitivo is the same as the grape called Zinfandel in the U.S.
Grown mostly in the region of Apulia, in southern Italy, Primitivo came to Italy via Croatia, where it’s known as Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski. In the 1990s, DNA typing at Univerisity of California, Davis revealed that American Zinfandel is identical to Italy’s Primitivo. This discovery allowed Italian producers to legally label their Primitivo wines as Zinfandel, capitalizing on Zinfandel’s popularity. The pendulum later swung in the opposite direction, as some American producers labeled their Zinfandel wines as Primitivo. Meanwhile, the linguistic origin of the name Zinfandel remains a mystery.