- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — In a move that could bring a merlot low and make a chardonnay shudder, a California lawmaker is proposing making zinfandel the state’s official wine.

State Sen. Carole Migden introduced the bill last week, saying the heady varietal is a “quintessential” California wine dating back to Gold Rush days and versatile enough to stand up to the spicy diversity of California cuisine.

“It’s about time we give it the recognition it deserves,” said Miss Migden, San Francisco Democrat.

The bill is headed to committee and could be heard next month, but some say singling out just one varietal would be a cardinal zin.

“What’s the basis?” said Doug Shafer, president of Shafer Vineyards, makers of highly prized cabernet sauvignon and merlot. “There’s some wonderful wines, lots of different varietals, from all over California that are all great, including zinfandel.”

Preliminary figures for the 2005 grape harvest put zinfandel at 10.4 percent of the crop, behind cabernet sauvignon’s 12.5 percent. Chardonnay was the harvest heavy at about 17 percent.

“Growing wine grapes in this state is a beautiful thing,” said Mr. Shafer. “Look what you get to pick from.”

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