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 annual festivities put on by ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers society in San Francisco would certainly qualify. For 25 years lovers of Zinfandel have been descending upon San Francisco in early Winter 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 Zinfandel Experience. 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.
This year’s Zinfandel Experience takes place over three days beginning on Thursday, February 25th. You can read about all the events on the organization’s web site, including a special gala dinner to celebrate the 25th anniversary. But the main event is, and has always been the Grand Tasting.
This year’s grand tasting, in addition to being at a snazzy new venue at Pier 27, offers something new to those with more than a passing interest in Zinfandel. For anyone interested in purchasing an all-day access pass (for $170 instead of the usual $80 ticket price), you can spend a couple of hours tasting older vintages of Zinfandel from all the producers before the main event kicks in at 1:00 PM.
If you love Zinfandel, then you’ve probably already bought your tickets. If you’re interested in Zinfandel, then let me tell you that this is a pretty good way to find out whether you love it.
2016 ZAP Zinfandel Experience
Saturday, February 27, 2016
11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Pier 27 – James R. Herman Cruise Terminal
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tickets for the various events range from $80 to $250. Grand tasting tickets run $80 and should be purchased online in advance.
My usual tips for such tastings: go with food in your belly; stay hydrated; wear dark clothes in case of spills; and spit if you want to learn anything and avoid becoming a public sloppy mess. Remember, these can be pretty high-octane wines!