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Alexander Valley Vineyards

Sin Zin—an “official” history of the label

In the beginning the Wetzel Family made four wines: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. In those early years we sold the balance of our estate grapes, including Zinfandel to other wineries.

In 1978 the pickers came and harvested the ripe primary clusters of our Zinfandel. AVV founder Hank Wetzel noticed that we had a large secondary crop of Zinfandel grapes on our hillside vines that ripened some time after the pickers had finished. Frugal winemaker that he was, he mentioned this “free” crop one evening to the rest of the family after sharing a few bottles of wine over a meal. It was decided that the Weztel Family would pick this later crop and make a little homemade wine for friends and family.

The family crushed the grapes, fermented and aged the wine in the thick-walled, adobe originally built by Cyrus Alexander in the 1840s. When it came time to bottle and label the wine, family friend and employee Dennis Hill browsed through an old art history book and found a 17th German etching, titled “Des Knabben Wunderhorn”, meaning “The Horn of Plenty”. Katie Wetzel thought the image looked perfect for a wine label, and its bacchanalian character inspired her to name our rich and robust wine - Sin Zin. That first vintage of 1978 Sin Zin was bottled and given out to family and friends. Sin Zin quickly gained cult status among those lucky to receive a few bottles. The wine was so popular, that in 1980 we produced 1,000 cases of Sin Zin for the national market. Like many Zinfandels made in the 1980s, those early vintages of Sin Zin were big, bold and brash.

Between 1984 and 1988 we bottled the wine under our Estate label instead of the Sin Zin label and the wine evolved to a more elegant style. Our customers loved the wine, but rebelled and cried out for the return of the original Sin Zin label.

We listened and in 1989 Sin Zin returned with a revised version of the original label. Ten years later in 1999 we added color to the black and white image and brought the illustration to life with rich earthy hues. The current full color label was released in 2002, twenty five years after our historic first vintage. Sin Zin is the original California classic. For over three decades this iconic wine has impressed wine lovers and critics across the country.

Sin Zin. What’s in your glass?

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