December 13, 2017 – Calling Zinfandel lovers across America! Once again, January is Zinfandel celebration time in San Francisco. Imagine finding tickets to this extravaganza under the tree! Anything is possible so start planning. January 18-20, 2018 are the dates to circle on the calendar.
Zinfandel is very familiar now, but it was the famous “mystery grape” of California that got its start during the gold rush of 1849. It was brought west from the New England area where it was used to make table wine. But where did it originate and how did it get to the east coast of America? In the 1990s DNA testing showed it was actually Primitivo, a grape from the heel of Italy. The sleuthing continued and eventually an ancient Croatian grape with the challenging name of Crljenak Kastelanski was discovered to be genetically identical to Primitivo/Zinfandel. And there you have it. They found Mom and Dad.
Zinfandel, with its dark skin, was used to make hearty red wines, often of questionable quality. The grape was very popular during Prohibition when tons of it was shipped back east for home winemakers. White Zinfandel came much later in the early 1970s. It is a prolific grape in warm climates but can be difficult as it ripens unevenly. Zinfandels are often high in alcohol because winemakers leave the bunches on the vines to get as much ripening as possible and the ripest grapes have higher sugar leading to higher alcohol levels during fermentation.
Higher alcohol doesn’t seem to bother Zinfandel’s legion of fans that gather every January for a bacchanal of sorts at Pier 27 in San Francisco. Known as ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) the Grand Tasting has been a popular event for more than two decades. It remains the key event of the three-day Zinfandel Experience with around 1,500 enthusiasts attending.
Now with the addition of smaller, more exclusive showcase events, ZAP has created a three-day Zinfandel Experience or ZinEX. The EX could also stand for Extravaganza! There is a menu of tastings, seminars and dinners that can be purchased as a package or individually.
The fourth annual ZinEX kicks off on Thursday, January 18, 2018 with a Welcome Reception at One Market Restaurant. This is an opportunity to chat with winemakers and taste wines not poured at other weekend tastings. A Farm-to-Table dinner created by famed chef Mark Dommen follows.
Friday, January 19 starts in the morning with a seated seminar-style tasting with themed flights offering unique insight into the character of the wines and the characters who make them! Seminars with winemakers are truly one of the best ways to really understand how grapes are grown and wine is made. In the evening join the winemakers at the beautiful Bentley Reserve for a magnificent dinner, lots of amazing Zinfandel wines, and a chance to bid on great prizes. Money raised by the auction benefits ZAP’s education program.
Saturday, January 20 moves to Pier 27 with its spectacular views of the Bay and the Golden Gate for the Grand Tasting. All-day pass holders have access to limited production wines not available at any other events, accompanied by delicious small bites from restaurants and winery chefs that complement the wines, and a chance to mingle with winemakers. This event starts at 11:00 a.m. for pass holders.
The Grand Tasting runs from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. highlighting 120 Zinfandel producers pouring over 500 different wines! Wine tastings are always fun and this one is no exception.
There’s much, much more and it is all clearly detailed at https://zinfandelexperience.com/. As mentioned, various events can be purchased individually or as a Grand Package. Time to pamper yourself and someone special, not to mention escaping snow and ice? Three days in San Francisco drinking Zinfandel is a pretty darn good solution.
If you are interested in reading more about Zinfandel click on the following link No Question Considered Crazy to read one of our earlier articles on the subject.