Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ZAP Zinfandel Festival 2012

We all know I can't say no to a wine festival. When Amanda messaged me to see if I wanted to join her for the ZAP Zinfandel festival in SF my answer was obviously a resounding yes! Although their ticket prices were a little out of what I usually find to be an appropriate range ($60, I usually draw the line at $40) I signed up regardless eager to see what all the fuss might be about. Organized by the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers Association this event brings together upwards of 300 wineries that produce Zinfandel from all over the world. In it's entirety the event takes place over 3 days with 4 main events: On Thursday there was a Food pairing event, Friday held a "seminar Style" tasting panel as well as a Wine Maker's Dinner at the Westin St. Francis, and lastly Saturday was the Grand Tasting which we attended. It was a gorgeous day in San Francisco and we were ready to get our Zin on! After a few hiccups before arrival (apparently you can't print tickets at Kinko's? Bastards) We arrived just after 2:30 with 2 and a half hours to soak in as much wine as we could. I don't think any of us were quite prepared for the magnitude of purveyors that were showing at the event!

As everyone entered the building they were presented with their very own baguette to enjoy throughout the tasting. My $60 was already serving me well. I could have used something to carry it in however (I obsessively only carry small purses... which generally don't have room for baguettes) I found myself wielding it too often like a sword that I was about to inadvertently chop people's heads off with. The event was being held at the Concourse in San Francisco on 8th and Brannan just a few blocks away from AT&T Park. The space was perfect for a wine event with the high ceilings of exposed beams giving it the rustic yet industrial feel of a new age barn. The large foyer where we were presented our glasses and baguettes gave way to two other large show floors each flanked on both sides with raised mezzanines all lined on all sides with table after table of wineries.

Our first stop was Rombauer Vineyards. We decided a dependable name would be the best way to go to get us off on the right foot and we were not wrong! From there it almost becomes a blur of stop after stop and I didn't take enough notes to describe each Zin to you but let me tell you the selection was vast and the quality was high. Unsurprisingly Seghesio had one of the biggest setups, pouring 5 of their world class Dry Creek Zin's on a 3 table display. They have been a favorite of mine for a long time and I was excited that Kerry got a chance to taste their wines as this was one of the stops during her bachelorette party that she missed. With so many quality places it became increasingly hard to choose where to go next, some we based on recognizable names, some on having no line, others because they sounded fun! At one favorite, Starlite Vineyards, the wine maker actually took us over to the cheese display and served us each a piece of herbed Havarti that he recommended to pair with the wine. We felt quite special after that!.
I can't believe this is the first I have mentioned the CHEESE!!!! Talk about added value I no longer felt at all at a lose for spending $60. The vast cheese displays set up throughout the many spaces were well worth it. From cubes of cheddar and Swiss to huge hunks of triple cream Bries, Gorgonzola, pieces of Havarti and others it extended our longevity considerably! Served with the standard sliced baguettes and cracker assortments along with grapes and other sliced fruit we had a great time stopping every few wineries to refuel.

Overall we had a fantastic time at this event. The selection was incredible, the presentation was fantastic and I can't wait to attend again next year. I was really reminded how much I enjoy Zinfandel, a varietal I don't always give a chance, and it opened my eyes to some new producers whose customer I am excited to soon become!

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