When one thinks of Zinfandel, it usually brings up images of California and even our region, which produces some of the best Zinfandels around. After sampling the quality in its bold flavors, you may be surprised to learn that Zinfandel is not native to California. The Zinfandel grape actually originated in Croatia, where its hills and cool climate lent themselves to the success of the grape before it made its way to the United States.
Zinfandels presence in El Dorado County began with the California Gold Rush, making it deeply rooted in the history of the area. Miners and other settlers traveled to El Dorado County in search of gold and brought with them Zinfandel grapes. While the age of prospecting is largely gone, Zinfandel stayed, thriving in the unique terroir of our region (the grapevine’s specific environment, such as soils, sub-soils, topography, exposure to sun, temperature, seasonal rainfall, fog and other climatic conditions).
Sitting at the edge of the Sierra Nevadas, El Dorado County ranges from 1,200 feet above sea level to 3,600 feet above sea level. Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards is located at an elevation of 2,300 feet, creating a soil mixture of decomposed granite and crushed volcanic rock. These stressful conditions are loved by Zinfandel and are similar to its native land of Croatia.
Located above the fog line, wineries in El Dorado County sit at the perfect temperature for the grapes to mature. The long sunny summer days paired with the cool nights make it the ideal climate for the well-known California Zinfandel.
The unique terroir of El Dorado County gives Zinfandel distinctive flavors full of dark cherry, blackberry, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper, which is reflected across the many single-vineyard Zinfandels offered at Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards. Though it may have originated in Croatia, Zinfandel has found a home and blossomed in El Dorado County.