I'm not exactly sure how long a particular event has to have been going on for it to be credibly labeled an institution, but whatever that length of time, the ZAP Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco would certainly qualify. For nearly 25 years lovers of Zinfandel have been descending upon San Francisco in late January to celebrate their favorite grape.
While there are now many Pinot Noir festivals, several Cabernet happenings, and more than one event focused on Rhone grape varieties, there has only ever been one ZAP. And while Zinfandel might be poured at other regional tastings, no event ever offered such a comprehensive view into the grape that very nearly became California's official state grape.
But after more than two decades of opening the floodgates of Zinfandel to the masses each winter, ZAP has decided to reinvent itself. The 2014 festival bears almost no resemblance to the two massive halls of Zinfandel producers that characterized previous years. Rather than a big tasting, the organizers suggest, ZAP is now going to become an experience.
Make that several experiences. Starting on Thursday, January 23rd, the event kicks off with the evening event that many have come to love called Epicuria, that will be held for the first time at the Presidio's Golden Gate Club. Attendees will be able to walk around and sample different foods paired with many different Zinfandels.
The next day, January 24th, offers the opportunity for more classroom style learning at the Four Seasons in San Francisco, with a seated session called Flights, which allows wine lovers to taste through old-vine Zinfandels with a guide. If you haven't had enough, that evening you can attend a winemakers dinner.
Saturday the 25th will continue to be the "main event" of the festival, but what used to be a grand tasting will now be three different "tracks" of tasting in smaller venues in the Presidio, each with a different focus. You can spend up to two hours at each tasting, which will have much more limited attendance than the grand tastings of the past, allowing for more leisurely and less competitive access to the wineries pouring their wares.
Because of the change of format and its stricter attendance limits this event is much more likely to sell out, sometime in the coming few weeks. Sadly I won't be able to attend to see how the new format will work out, but I have managed to secure a promotional code that gets you discounts on your tickets. See below for more information.
Go get your Zin on!
2014 ZAP Zinfandel Experience
Tasting Tracks begin at 10:00 AM on Saturday, January 25th
Various Locations at the Presidio of San Francisco
Tickets for the various events range from $60 for the Grand Tasting to $275 for the winemaker dinner. Use the PROMO CODE: AlderZin to get a $10 discount on the Epicuria tasting or $5 off any of the tasting tracks. Purchase your tickets online soon, as they will certainly sell out.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon
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