Experience America’s Heritage Grape!


It’s that time of year again, time for the annual Zinfandel Experience!  Attracting Zin lovers from around the world, Zinfandel Experience is celebrating its 24th anniversary with three days of wine tasting events with zins from all over California, as well as unique corners of the world!

A classically American wine, Zinfandel is one of the oldest grapes grown in California.  From the old school Italian field blends of the Central Valley to the bold expressions of Dry Creek, there is a zin for everyone!

January 29-31st the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers association presents 4 days of spectacular events showcasing zinfandel.

Epicuria – formerly known as Good Eats and Zin, you get the idea.  Each producers selected wine is paired with a fabulous restaurant for this information walk around wine & food pairing.  VIPs can sip in the special lounge where you can relax and chat about the delicious tidbits.
Some of the pairings you can look forward to:
  • Bella Vineyards and Presideo Social Club
  • Ravenswood with Central Market
  • Saddleback Cellars with Rosamunde Sausage Grill
Flights! Forums of Flavors – Friday, January 30th
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.

Presentaion of 3 Historic Regions, moderated by Joel Peterson, featuring Contra Costa County, Amador County, and Dry Creek Valley

 

 

Winemakers Reception, Dinner & Auction – Zin State of Mind – A Benefit with Taste, Friday January 30th

Go glamorous! Mad Men, the popular TV show, is our inspiration for this year’s dinner and auction. The stylish, sleek, and jazzy atmosphere will captivate you as the city lights of San Francisco dazzle. Our reception will feature winemakers ‘pouring it big’ with magnums and reserve offerings. You’ll experience an intimate dinner hosted by celebrities of the wine world and a customized menu that boasts the best in farm-to-table cuisine. The live and silent auctions will feature one-of-a-kind lots, rare bottles, winery experiences and so much more, with proceeds benefiting ZAP’s programming, education and Heritage Projects. It will be an evening full of personality—fashionable, yet slightly provocative—what else—a Zin state of mind!

The Tasting – Saturday, January 31st

The centerpiece of the 2015 Zinfandel Experience is The Tasting, where wine lovers engage in personal conversations with winemakers while exploring the flavors of Zinfandel blends, single vineyards and old vine Zinfandels or discover the distinctive dialects of Zinfandel growing regions. Experience Zinfandel from the perspective of sommeliers, with all due respect to terroir, at the complimentary Sommelier & Winemaker Terroir Workshops located at the Golden Gate Club.

Reserve and Barrel Tasting with VIP and All Day Ticket Purchase

Winemakers and principals will pour samples at their tables during this exclusive tasting for VIPs and all-day ticket holders. From 11am to 1pm, you will enjoy a “sneak peek” tasting of upcoming vintages and special Zinfandels that have earned the title of “Reserve.” This walk-around experience offers an special foray into the wineries most prized Zinfandel treasures.

Tickets are available HERE and be sure to get them early!  Events sell out!

ZAP goes on the road!

As summer winds down, or maybe just gets skipped over, the foggy nights and cool morning remind me of why I love Zinfandel so much.  Zinfandel is a wine that has as many flavors and styles as there are ways to make BBQ sauce.  Zinfandel is also the perfect summer party, and BBQ wine.

With that in mind, ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) is hosting a showcase of Zinfandel at Ridge Lytton Springs, on Saturday, August 16th.  Here, over 40 producers will be pairing their Zinfandels with delicious foods from Pizza Politana!  Included with your ticket, you get all of your tastings and half a pizza.  My only problem is they all sound so good – Wild Mushroom, Smoked Mozzarella, Thyme & Truffle Oil; Black Mission Fig, Zoe’s Bacon, Gorgonzola & Creamy Leeks; Housemade Red Wine Sausage (not spicy), County Line Farm Mustard Greens, Tomato Sauce & Mozzarella.  How do I choose?  I suspect the bacon will have it.

Participating wineries include some personal favorite of D-Cubed, Elyse Winery, Fields Family Winery, Kokomo Winery, and Ridge – as well as many more!

Tickets are $60 per person ($45 for ZAP members) and include tasting and 1/2 a pizza w/salad.  Additional food is available for purchase as well as several other sampling opportunities.

Hope to see you there!

 

Tickets to this event were provided, however all yumtacular (thanks James!) opinions of said pizza, and sips of wine, are my own.

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Be a Zinner in 2014!

Here were are, in another new year, looking forward to what is to come.  Every new year brings changes, lessons learned, and reminders of years past.  In the case of the annual Zinfandel Festival, 2014 brings a change in format, as well as venue.  Exciting things to come!

The 2014 Zinfandel Experience occurs January 23-25th at the Presidio, instead of the previous venues of The Concourse and Fort Mason, as well as the gala Evening with the Winemakers at the plush Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.  This year, with the smaller, more intimate setting in the Presidio, guest can look forward to more conversation with the winemakers, more education and more Zin!

The all new Zinfandel Experiences highlights America’s Heritage Grape, with several events including the new Tasting Tracks on Saturday, which replaces the Grand Tasting.  This creative track format allows Zinfandel fans to choose their own adventure:  

  • The Sensory Tasting – stroll through 80 wineries and winemakers and discover what your favorite note is.
  • Reserve & Barrel Tasting  taste the future of Zin in the barrel, and a exclusive tasting of reserve wines from 44 wineries.
  • Terroir Tasting – focus on a particular region as you stroll through wine country locations like Napa, Lodi, Sonoma and Paso Robles, tasting the terroir of each location through wine.

Each of these Experiences runs in a concurrent format, in 2 hour blocks.  Do one, or do them all!

Additional events that are familiar to ZAP alumni will be Flights, a professional tasting seminar featuring limited production wines, Epicuria, where you can eat to your hearts delight delicious morsels paired with Zinfandels, and the swanky soiree Evening with the Winemakers, a benefit auction and dinner with famous Zin creators.

Tickets for Tasting Tracks start at $60 for a single track, with savings for multiple tracks, and individual events are priced differently.  For details, see the ticket page HERE.  My friends at VinVillage are giving away tickets to Epicuria and the Tasting Tracks, but enter soon!  Also, use discount code “VinVillage”!

I’m exciting to see this new format for the event, and I look forward to tasting some delicious wines January 23-25!

 

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Zinning in to 2013 – **WINNERS ANNOUNCED**

Happy New Year!  How the heck is it the second week of 2013 already?  Wowzah.

But here were are, smack dab in the middle of a chilly winter in San Francisco; what better time to celebrate America’s Heritage Grape than a cold winter night?  Celebrating 22 years of Zinfandel, this year’s event will be just as entertaining as last year’s, in the new event space at The Concourse.

One of the most unique American wines, Zinfandel has a long history in California.  From Italian field blends during the gold rush to the new gold rush of wine, zinfandel has a solid palace in history.  There are so many different flavor profiles you can find, from raisiny ripe Paso Robles to spicy & racy Sierra Foothills, to brambly blackberry punch of Dry Creek.  What better way to taste them than at the 2013 Zinfandel Festival!

January 31st, the Festival kicks off with Epicuria, my favorite event of the week.  This informal walk around event allows you the opportunity to nibbly on tasty tidbits, paired with 50 delicious zinfandels hand picked to bring out the zinny flavor.  There will be plenty of pork to go around, as well as some wonderful dessert offerings.  Come early, and come hungry!  The best bites go quickly.  $125

Congratulations to Amy Abascal and Cindy Gooch, who each won a pair of tickets!  Looking forward to seeing you!

 

Friday afternoon, Flights is designed for the enthusiast with a passion for the legendary, this exclusive seminar-style tasting ignites your imagination for the varietal as you delve into the history, culture and science behind the many flavors of Zinfandel. Flights offers unique insight into the Zinfandel varietal and allows you to experience the true character of the wines through the eyes of experts as you revel in a sensory experience like no other.  $75

 

Friday evening, a benefit event whisks you back to the 1940s with a Casablanca theme, benefiting ZAP and the Heritage Vineyard project.  The Winemakers Dinner is always a banner event, where premier winemakers host, and share the intrigue and romance behind their craft at this elegant reception and dinner.  Specially chosen private selections of Zinfandel will be poured as you get in the time machine and learn about the origins of Zinfandel, and modern techniques in wine making.  $250

 

Culminating in Saturday’s Grand Tasting, featuring over 100 zinfandels from all over the US, the week is sure to be zinny, zany, and downright purple.  Create your own Zin-fari, as you weave the isles through each growing region, to explore the diversity of American Zinfandel.  Taste barrel samples, new releases, and more!  $65

Congratulations to Shari Johnston & Amy Holtzman, who each won a pair of tickets!  See you there!

Tickets for this year’s festival are available HERE .

That said, you lucky readers, I have something special for you!  Two lucky readers can win a pair of tickets to Epicuria.  Two other lucky readers can win a pair of tickets to the Grand Tasting!  You must be in San Francisco for the event.  Tickets are non transferable once claimed.  Good luck and the deadline for entry is Jan 18th.  Enter below!

See you zinners there!

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The spark within – WBW 73

Ahh, Wine Blogging Wednesday.  Once upon a time, WBW was a monthly spark for wine bloggers to collective think about a particular topic, and form the gestalt of the blog.

The sum of the many is the one.

Sadly, WBW all but disappeared over the past few years.  Formed in 2004, WBW is having a resurgence thanks to a new committee and new life behind it. I for one, am grateful to have a guided post every month, as I struggle to be inspired and write posts that are both thoughtful, but also interesting to my readers.  This month, as we kick off a new year, January’s theme reminds us to think about what make us start blogging int he first place.  The Corkdork asks us what sparked our interest in wine, but more why we decided we needed to write about it.

For me, I actually have to thank my wine loving friend, and fellow blogger Liza Swift of the Brix Chicks for challenging me to put my money where my mouth was.  There was never one wine, or a specific experience that made me put pen to paper.  I had always been involved int he wine community one way or another.  But Liza, whom I encouraged to blog before I even started my own, asked me why I wasn’t writing when she was.

Good point!  Wine fascinates me.  the fact that it is alive, and forever changing, inspires me.  I have been drinking wine since before I was 21, and I have been entrenched in wine, while maintaining a techie career, for the better part of (*gasp*) 17 years.  I felt compelled to share my favorite wine discoveries with friends via word of mouth, but then in a newsletter.  That newsletter, which was filled with wines that I had consumed and fallen in love with, as well as tips on events that were up and coming in the Bay Area, and stories of my adventures in wine, are what sparked this blog.

Why do I write?  To write puts thoughts on paper – or on the internet – and shares them with your audience, however selective that might be.  To share the joy that I have experienced drives me.  My tastes have changed from zinfandel to pinot, and further more to the complex wines of the Rhone.  Starting out with my so called newsletter, I had the overwhelming feeling that to keep such knowledge to myself would be indulgent and selfish.  Beyond that, writing is cathartic, regardless of whether it’s in a personal journal or in a public format.  This blog, Facebook, and Twitter act as a life coach, therapist and best friend.

Wine is alive.  Wine changes.  Both time and place can turn the same wine in to very different beasts.  What happens when you taste a wine 5 years after the initial release?  Is it better?  Is ti worse?  Is my taste just different?  All of these are true, all of these are not.  Wine also changes in the glass.  What other tangible and consumable object has this much life to it.  It sound like I am quoting Maya from Sideways, but it’s true.  Wine lives, and wine is alive.

What sparked me?   My gateway wine was definitely zin.  Having worked for and with ZAP for over 10 years, I was exposed to over 200 wineries that had a wide variety of zinfandel to offer.  Is it the brambly jammy blackberry from Dry Creek?  Or perhpas the spicy mincemeat raisin from Sierra Foothills?  Dig a little deeper and try the rose petals and somewhat lighter style from Russian River.  I still love zin, and while my everyday tastes have changed somewhat, there is nothing better on a cold rainy night.

Today, my passion is for learning about and discovering pinot.  Why are pinots so fickle?  What are they so different?  How can I possibly love a pinot from Willamette Valley but also love one from the vast and strange Sonoma Coast?  While keeping my love affair with pinot alive, I am ever the explorer.  My latest quest.  Grenache!  Where fort art thou!  One of the essentially Rhone grapes, you can get Grenache for days in the Rhone Valley and also in somewhat rougher, inexpensive Spanish Garnacha.  But what about in the New World?  Where can I find that meaty, spicy, unique in a way that only Grenache can produce, flavor here int he new world?  Apart from a few favorites that I can’t seem to keep in my cellar, I am always on a quest to meet the winemaker who has taken on the bold new world of the Rhone, Spanish, interesting varietal.  Beyond the Grenache, what of the misunderstood, misplaced, lost and lonely Mouvedre/Monastrell/Mataro?

It’s a bold new world out there, and wine is waiting.

A long winter's night…**ZAP WINNERS ANNONCED**

It’s that time of year again, where you curl up in front of your fake Amish fire (no wood burning here please, it’s Spare the Air!), open a big juicy zin, a good book, and your new furry slippers.  It’s cold here these days, and the damp chill of the morning fog makes it feel more like London than San Francisco.  That’s not all bad however, as it’s days  like this that make me cook up a big pot of bean soup and open some of my deliciously California Zinfandel.

One of the most unique American wines, Zinfandel has a long history in California.  From Italian field blends during the gold rush to the new gold rush of wine, zinfandel has a solid palace in history.  There are so many different flavor profiles you can find, from raisiny ripe Paso Robles to spicy & racy Sierra Foothills, to brambly blackberry punch of Dry Creek.  What better way to taste them than at the 2012 Zinfandel Festival!

January 26-28, 2012 join thousands of Zinfandel aficionados in San Francisco for the 21st Annual Zinfandel Festival.  This year marks a departure from the past festivals, with both a venue change and event revamping.  I am excited to see how these changes impact the festival.  In 2012, the festival will be help for the first time in the Concourse Exhibition Center, an urban venue south of Market Street in San Francisco.  While this can present a logistical nightmare, my hope is that it will encourage more taxis and bus travel than auto travel – which has resulted in some less than stellar behavior in years past.

But back tot he event!  Thursday ZAP kicks off with Epicuria, formerly known as Good Eats & Zin.  This has long been my favorite event, with it’s smaller crowd and delicious food pairings.  At this gourmet extravaganza, you can discover the diversity of zinfandel, as it is paried with a huge variety of sweet & savory food sfrom some of the best restaurants in California.

Friday afternoon, Flights continues it’s journey with Forums of Flavor.   At this exclusive seminar-style tasting you will discover themed flights of Zinfandels and interact with Zinfandel experts. Aimed at the true wine aficionado with an aptitude toward learning more, Flights offers in-depth insight into the Zinfandel varietal and provides the opportunity to experience the true character of the legend.

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A wine-full month!

It’s January, and for me, that means a busy wine month.  First, Winter Wineland is next weekend – January 16-17.  At Winter Wineland, over 100 wineries in Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley throw open their doors and show their best wines and nibbles. There are some wonderful themes at wineries, including my personal favorite, The Winter Wineland Olympics at Michel-Schlumberger.  I heard tell that there will be an Elvis sighting at Hanna as well!  Now, I normally avoid the wine country on event weekends, but with the list this year including some 5-10 new additions, this is a great opportunity to taste the wares of many wineries on a single weekend, where they show their best bottles.  Thickets are $40 online until 9pm TONIGHT January 11th, and are good for both days.  You can buy 1 or 2 day tickets at the door, but the price increases.

That same weekend, Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Assocaition’s Password Weekend allows you the unusual opportunity to visit some of their terrific wineries, many of which are only open on special occasions.  I have enjoyed this event every tiem I’ve gone, and your $40 passport is good until you have every winery stamped.  The passport event is every January, April, July and November, so it’s actually a great way to see all of the Santa Cruz area wineries over the course of a year!

Finally, at the end of the month, ZAP!  The Zinfandel Advocates and Producers week long tasting extravaganza hits the town in San Francisco.  nter is January 15th, and this year’s theme is Zinfandel in Paradise, and it promises to be a great event as always.

  • The event weekend kicks off with Thursday, January 28th’s Good Eats & Zin, where noteworthy restaurants and award-winning wineries turn the art of food and wine pairing into an entertaining and approachable affair. Talented chefs present the ultimate combination of distinctive tastes, while winery proprietors offer delectable Zinfandels to match.
  • Friday has two events, starting with Flights! A showcase of Zinfandel, where you can immerse yourself in the hitory and diversity of Zinfandel.
  • Friday evening is Evening with the Winemakers which is your chance to hobnob with famous winemakers and wineaux alike at the intercontinental.
  • The weekend culminates in Grand Tasting on Saturday, where you can taste over 200 zinfandels from around the state, as well as a few from lesser known regions.

As luck would have it, my friends at Vintuba are giving away 2 pairs of tickets to the Grand Tasting for some lucky viewers.  You’ll hav eto meander over to their site to find out how to win, but let’s just say , some great words, and facebook are involved.  Deadline to enter is January 15th, so don’t miss out on this great contest!

Just Grapes is also giving away 2 tickets to ZAP.  You have until January 23rd to tweet the following to be entered to win:

I want to win 2 tickets to the ZAP Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco from @justgrapeswine Go to http://tinyurl.com/yg4ynst for details

Each tweet will give you one “ticket” in the drawing, which will happen on January 24th.    Good Luck!

You’ve been ZAPped!

zap

ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers trade organization, is dedicated to advancing public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel.  Next week marks its 18th annual festival, a weeklong celebration of Zinfandel themeed events.

Being the Zinner that I am, I look forward to this event every year.  I also am a volunteer, so I have seen first hand how the love of zinfandel has grown over the years.   Although the public tasting on Saturday, Jan 31st, can be a bit of a zoo, there are several other events throughout the week that make this event an enjoyable experience.


Wednesday – Jan 28th

Flights!

Prepare for take-off…
Take a seat and buckle-up to embark on a voyage of discovery. Your crew at our intimate, seminar-style setting will include the intrepid men and women winemakers and owners who grow and craft these remarkable wines. The City College of San Francisco Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies program will create delights for your taste buds to savor during the walk-around Zinfandel reception following the seminar.

Also on Wednesday, Crushpad is hosting a BYOB Zinfandel event to help kick off ZAP.  I love these mixers at Crushpad, because we get to taste a lot of great wine, but also meet some new people.  This time, bring a bottle of zin.  Crushpad will brown bag it, and present it with the other offerings for you to sample.  At the end of the evening, we vote on our faves, and reveal!  So much fun, and perfect for an economical evening out.  Please RSVP here

Thursday – Jan 29th

Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing

If you are a devoted foodie with a passion for Zinfandel, make plans to indulge your “inner epicurean” and spend the evening at Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing! Noteworthy restaurants and award-winning wineries turn the art of cooking and wine pairing into an entertaining and approachable affair. Talented chefs present the ultimate combinations of distinctive tastes, while winery proprietors offer stunning Zinfandels to match.

Detailed menus are here.  This is my favorite event of the week, because you get the opportunity to taste some speical wines that aren’tr always poured on Saturday, in a quieter more relaxed atmosphere.  Take a look at these sample menus!

Zinfandel Braised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash and Cipollini Onion Ragout with Carol Shelton Wines

Miniature Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Easton Zinfandel Barbeque Sauce with Easton wines

Friday – Jan 30th

Evening

with the Winemakers

This event is a benefit auction and dinner, and is the ritziest of the week. This elegant sit down dinner benefits the ZAP’s Heritage Projects–preserving the historical and viticultural significance of America’s Heritage Wine–Zinfandel, including scholarships and other designated charities.

Wine 2.0 Best Practices Seminars

Wine 2.0,

the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry and ZAP, invite you to participate in “Winery Best Practices,” an education session on January 30, 2009 at Ft. Mason in San Francisco.

1. Winery eCommerce: 12:00-12:45 pm – A panel moderated by Jeff Carroll of ShipCompliant on best practices and n

ew tools for e-commerce success in 2009.

2. Winery Social Networking: 1:00-1:45 pm – A panel moderated by Lisa De Bruin of Hahn Family Winery with lessons on best practices for social networking in the year ahead.

3. Building a Great Consumer Direct Organization: 2:00-2:45 pm – A presentation by Lesley Berglund of WISE Academy on best practices in direct-to-consumer programs with lessons learned from industry research covering the past 18 months.

Sessions will run for 45 minutes each (with a 15 minute break between sessions) starting at 12 noon on January 30 in the Building “D” Theater at Ft. Mason. Up to 300 winery professionals are expected to attend. 40% of ticketing proceeds go towards ZAP’s Education Programs.


Order Tickets here, $35 per session or all three for $90


Saturday – Jan 31st

ZAP Grand Tasting

Over 250 member wineries will pour their zins!  Pick a target path.  I like to select a region, or select a list of wineries that i haven’t heard of.  Make sure you spit!

Trade  10am-1pm

Public 2pm-5pm

Bloggers can request media passes by emailing your RSVP with contact information to abdi@winetwo.com.  There will also be a blogger lounge at the back of the room in each pavillion.

Finally, there are some great promotions going on!  Vin Village is giving away 7 tickets to the Good Eats & Zin evening, as well as 7 tickets to the Grand Tasting.

There are two ways to enter:

vinvillage1

1.  Go to http://vinvillage.com/zap-wine-festival-ticket-contest-sign and sign up for Vin Village.  IT’s a great site that has some interesting content, and you can wine stuff!

2.  At the Crushpad BYOB Zin event, Vin Village will be drawing a name out of the hat for the same tickets.  Be there or be square!

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