California is known for it’s big bold zinfandels and there’s no place that this robust red varietal shines more brightly than at the Zinfandel Experience. ZinEx, as it’s referred to by those in the know, is a weekend long event hosted by ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers. The largest single varietal wine tasting event in the nation, ZinEx, is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. Although they changed the format and location of the past couple of years, this weekend is sure to be a haute occasion.
The festivities kick start tonight with a 25-Year Tribute party that features ZAPs founding winemakers, the first 60 wineries that came together to honor the powerful grape that is zin. Participating wineries include Rosenblum Cellars, DeLoach, and Ridge Vineyards. The event, which is at the Bently Reserve, will have passed appetizers of delectable treats that pair well with zinfandel. Think duck mole tostadas, wild boar sausage, and lamb lollipops. At 7 pm, the party shifts gears and turns into an exclusive, invitation-only Heritage Supper Club.
One of the things that makes the zinfandel grape so interesting is its ability to stand the test of time. This will be highlighted on Friday morning at Flights! Forums of Flavor, from 10:30 am to 1 pm. ZAP has partnered with the Historic Vineyard Society — a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of California’s oldest vines, to create the educational seminar. Joel Peterson, a ZAP founding member and winemaker of Ravenswood, will moderate the event. Zin lovers will have the chance to sip European and Californian zin side by side at the tasting. All of the wines that are being poured come from grapes grown on exceptionally old vines.
Friday night is the Silver Anniversary Spectacular in the Bently Reserve’s Banking Hall. 28 of the world’s top zinfandel makers will come together to pour it big, as in magnums and reserve offerings. Each winemaker hosts a table and comes up with his own customized farm-to-table meal that will pair perfectly with his offerings. Hosts include Opolo Wine’s Cary Thrasher, Rock Wall Wine Company’s Shauna Rosenblum, and Seghesio Family Vineyards’s Ted Seghesio. There’s also a live and silent auction that will include fabulous winery experiences and rare bottles.
On Saturday is ZinEx’s main event, the grand tasting. Although last year it was in the Presidio, this weekend it will take place at Pier 27, from 11 am to 5 pm. The focus of the tasting is on the past, present, and future of zinfandel. From 11 am to 1 pm, festival goers will be able to sample the past and the future. Winemakers will be pouring older perfectly aged library samples as well as limited-release reserves and barrel samples of upcoming bottlings. At 1 pm, the tasting moves to the present and the winemakers will start to pour their new current releases.