This past weekend, I was out in San Francisco attending the premier Zinfandel convention, the Zinfandel Experience (ZinEx). The event is hosted by ZAP, Zinfandel Advocates and Producers, which was also the previous title of the event.
I was too, at least slightly, until I got filled in by Rebecca Robinson, the Executive Director of ZAP. In a nutshell, for years, ZAP put on their signature event, which was also called ZAP, at Fort Mason and would typically draw several thousand people. It had become, arguably, San Francisco’s most popular wine festival.
A couple of years ago, however, ZAP (the organization) decided to alter the format of the yearly Grand Tasting of Zinfandel, rebranding it as ZinEx. Why the shift? That post will come soon, but until then, I wanted to post a few pictures of a very eventful weekend.
My “weekend started on Wednesday night, in the basement of the Barrel Room in San Francisco. The spot was a former speak-easy during Prohibition–what better place to start a weekend of drinking “America’s Grape”? The wines of Three Wine Company were a revelation–not just that night, but the entire weekend.
As with most wine events, a considerable amount of time is spent around a table. Here, I sat with several producers and writers including Lauren Mowery (far left), Jim Gordon (with glasses at the top), and a blurry Joe Roberts (right, pointing at Lauren).
The following day started bright and early (at least for wine folks) at 10:00 with a tasting of six Zins from various regions with Master of Wine Doug Frost and soon-to-be MW (we all hope) Lauren Mowery.
After the tasting, there were several more to taste, of course. Nothing says “breakfast” like a couple dozen Zinfandels.
After the tasting, we were whisked next door to a “speed dating” lunch. One-on-one with eight different wineries for 15 minutes each. Eight different courses. Woof. My next-to-last course was with the lovely Julie Pedroncelli.
The last course of perfectly prepared trip-tip was served with a 2005 Ridge Lytton Springs, brought by Ridge President David Amadia.
After lunch, it was off to the trade tasting with about 50 wineries. There, I met up with my old buddy Gary Sitton, winemaker at Ravenswood, who was pouring a 1999 Big River. Whoa.
The following morning was another tasting. Several flights of Zin, Carignane, Petite Sirah, and Alicante Bouchet, moderated by Joel Peterson of Ravenswood.
Friday afternoon, I held a private tasting in the Palace hotel, highlighting the different styles of Zinfandel for the winners of my contest.
The highlight Sunday was the Grand Tasting…
…and my new buddy (and fellow Bowdoin alum) Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores Winery in Napa.
In all, it was a great weekend for me, and hopefully for the winners of my contest, shown here with another new buddy, Matt Cline of Three Wine Company (left). Thanks to (from left to right) Grace, Aaron, and Gretchen for coming to San Francisco to meet up!