The Primitivo grape is a black-skinned variety traditionally grown in Puglia, the south-east region of mainland Italy. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, probably via the Imperial Nursery in Vienna, Austria, which obtained the vines during the Habsburg Monarchy's control over the Dalmatian territories of the former Republic of Venice. In fact, DNA analysis has revealed that Primitivo is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grapes Crljenak Kaštelanski and Tribidrag.

In the US Primitivo became known by variations of a name applied to a different grape, probably "Zierfandler" from Austria. The Primitivo grape is now known as “Zinfandel” in the US and is grown in over 10 percent of California vineyards.

The taste of the red wine produced using the Primitivo/Zinfandel grape depends on the ripeness of the fruit from which it is made. Red berry fruit flavours like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas.

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