Once upon a time, there was a lonely grape, taken far from its homeland in Croatia, planted in a strange new country, by a hardscrabble lot of people who very quickly made the grape far from lonely. They made it a star. It took a while (about 120 years), but Zinfandel (formerly Tribidrag, thank you Carole Meredith) went from cherished, to beloved, to utter sensation. They even started an organization around it, and for many years, one of the hottest wine tasting events in San Francisco was the annual ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) festival, where thousands would stain their teeth purple served by hundreds of winemakers from around the state.
But the luster wore off Zinfandel for California wine drinkers, and it has fallen a bit from the pinnacle on which it rested. No one is entirely sure why, but people seem less interested in this grape, despite its delicious American success story. Like a winning sports team that has finally broken its streak, Zinfandel now counts more true fans than fair weather ones, and I’m proud to say I’m among them.
The Zinfandel folks have evolved too, changing their approach to celebrating their favorite grape. Instead of the Zap Festival, we now have the Zinfandel Experience, which involves several events, each of which offers an opportunity to enjoy one of the country’s most distinctive wines.
ZAP continues to offer a grand tasting experience, which is the primary reason I bring the event to your attention. Regular readers know I like to advertise such public wine tastings as they offer the most educational kind of wine experience around — the chance to taste a lot of wine side-by-side.
This year’s experience begins with an opening night dinner on Thursday January 30th at Le Colonial Restaurant and a French-Vietnamese menu designed around Zinfandel. The following afternoon features a “Flights” event, which is a sit-down seminar that promises to be very good this year. It will be moderated by Joel Peterson, the founding winemaker of Ravenswood, and feature legendary Zinfandel vineyards and the folks that farm them (a wonderful opportunity as these folks rarely speak in pubic).
The evening of the 31st features a winemakers dinner and auction, which is unfortunately already sold out.
Then on February 1st, the grand tasting will be held, featuring more than 100 Zinfandel producers under one roof for your tasting pleasure.
If you’ve not had much Zinfandel, or just haven’t had much lately, I can’t recommend highly enough that you go see how it’s doing these days. I think you’ll find it better than ever.
2020 Zinfandel Experience
Saturday, February 1, 2020
11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Pier 27 – Cruise Terminal
San Francisco, CA 94111
The All-day ticket will run you $185 (or $160 if you’re a ZAP member) and the afternoon tasting ticket costs $90 ($75 for members). Purchase your tickets online soon, as they may sell out.