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.
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