Perhaps the primary reason that California wine lovers look forward to January is the annual ZAP weekend. ZAP, which stands for Zinfandel Advocates and Producers is one of the largest and most fanatical organizations in the United States devoted to a single varietal. They also know how to throw quite a party.
Every year towards the middle of January, San Francisco is packed with people and events for three or four days all celebrating Zinfandel. Wine dinners, auctions, etc. culminating in a tasting event. This year, the aforementioned events are taking place January 26th through the 29th, with the final tasting on Saturday, January 29th.
I've been to the tasting several times (read my report from it last year) and I can without reservation say that it's one of the best tastings in California. That is, if you like Zinfandel. They have representation from nearly all the Zinfandel producers in the state (and some from Oregon and Washington as well) and it's a lively crowd.
I've never been to any of the other events, but from what folks have told me, they're worth checking out -- good food, good people, and of course, excellent wines.
Last year the line for the tasting was a little out of control - I recommend buying tickets in advance if you can. I will be there all day on Saturday and here are a few of the producers I will be sure not to miss:
Look for my report on the event during the first week of February.
ZAP Zinfandel Advocates and Producers Weekend
January 26th - 29th
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Acid Freaks Unite: Highlights From the 2015 IPOB Tasting Vinography Images: A Brief Oasis Going Dry In California Off to Taste Champagne! Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 5, 2015 Vinography Images: The Color of Spring Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 29, 2015 Vinography Images: Waves of Vines Tempranillo (and Gang) TAPAS Tasting: April 26, San Francisco A Man, An Island, and a Bottle of Grüner: The Wines of Rudi Pichler
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune