Zinfandel (originally tribidrag in Croatia), most identified with California, traveled here in the early 19th century. Some of those vineyards are now among the oldest in North America, having survived prohibition, depression, drought, disease (like phylloxera), and more. Vineyards like these are American treasures, and organizations like the Historic Vineyard Society are working to preserve them. This month at 2015 Zinfandel Experience, you will be able to explore every aspect of this interesting varietal from young plantings to heritage vines made by young innovative winemakers to veterans that define the history of zinfandel. My favorite part is that this experience is educational and food-friendly, after all Zinfandel is meant for the table. Also, many of the current releases will be from the 2012 vintage. In California, the summer of 2012 was mild and extremely dry. For Zinfandel, a notoriously unevenly ripening grape, these were fabulous conditions and vintners were harvesting clusters that where plump and regularly formed. I am looking for rich, juicy, and savory Zinfandels to make my mouth water from both warm- and cool-climate vineyards.
The Zinfandel Experience is the largest single varietal tasting I have ever attended and well hosted by ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers), an organization of Zinfandel enthusiasts that study and celebrate the Zinfandel grape, connect with one another, and educate the public about Zinfandel’s place in America’s history and culture.
The January events running from the 29th through the 31st at two locations in San Francisco and has something for everyone’s taste and budget. I usually move into my brother’s house for a couple of days and attend them all.
Thursday begins with a chance to “Feed Your Epicuriosity” at Epicuria where you can pair sophisticated to whimiscal culinary creations made by top chefs with 30+ amazing Zinfandels. This Thursday night food and wine pairing has always been one of my favorites. You get to push your palate with pairings that range from tiramisu and cheesecake to duck rillette and beef bourguignon as you experience the range of Zinfandel expression that our talented winemakers produce. This event is at the Golden Gate Club, Presidio, San Francisco. 6:00-8:30 pm.
Friday, Jan 30th will be a full day with Flights beginning at 10:30 am in the Four Season Hotel. Flights features a professional tasting seminar with a focus on highly allocated, limited production Zinfandels. Learn insights from the experts and experience the range, depth and character of the wines. ZAP will once again partner with the Historic Vineyard Society to present wines from exceptional old Zinfandel vineyards. Fans of Contra Costa County, Amador County, and Dry Creek Valley historical Zinfandel vineyards should not miss this presentation.
For me the pièce de résistance is the Winemaker Reception and Dinner. This event can be attended as just a reception or with the dinner, but I would highly recommend both. Some 15 years ago, my first dinner was with Joel Peterson of Ravenswood and his son, Morgan Twain-Peterson (now with Bedrock). After that evening of stories and the honest love of Zinfandel, I was hooked. You are seated with a winemaker that pairs his/her wine with each course. The theme this year is Mad Men, so come ready for a sleek, stylish, and jazzy evening. The silent auction is full of interesting items, we have purchased a Zinfandel tasting on a yacht while watching the Giants play ball, tons of large format bottles, and hard to acquire wines from great winemakers and heritage vineyards.
If you aren’t exhausted, Saturday is the day to catch any vintner you missed or explore new Zinfandel avenues at the Grand Tasting. A Reserve and Barrel Tasting with VIP and All Day Ticket purchase is my favorite as well as the complimentary Sommelier & Winemakers Terroir Workshop. Come prepared to expand your horizons and experience Zinfandel in ways that you have never imagined.
Tickets sell out for many of the high demand sessions quickly, so purchase early. Individual ticket prices range from $80 for the Grand Tasting to $275 for the winemaker dinner. Join ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) for the deepest discounts or use the PROMO CODE: VINOGRAPHY to get a 10% discount.
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