A bar tender at a Sonoma Valley winery pours wine into a row of glasses for tasting.
Food - Drink
The Napa Wine Named For A 1940s Bootlegging Code Phrase
Napa Valley’s charming, family-owned Robert Biale Vineyards is known for its Black Chicken Zinfandel, which got its name from a clever codeword devised by the vineyard’s founder.
Aldo Biale was only 13 years old when his father died in 1942, so to support his family’s farm, he started making homemade wine, which quickly became popular among locals.
However, since the farm shared a telephone line with its neighbors, young Aldo had to get creative with a code word that customers could use to order the not-quite-legal wine.
Knowing that curious neighbors could listen in when customers placed orders, Aldo instructed callers to request a black chicken if they wanted to order a jug of bootleg wine.
Since the farm already raised chickens, albeit white chickens, “black chicken” was an inconspicuous code word, and the winery’s zinfandel honors this history today.