Do you love Zinfandel wine? If so, mark your calendars for January 30 - February 1, 2020 for the all-new Zinfandel Experience wine tasting event!
ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) offers a fresh way to taste Zinfandel wines during their annual event, which is held at three venues: One Market, Palace Hotel, and Pier 27 at the Embarcadero.
Over the course of three days, you get the chance to meet some of the top producers, learn more about this popular variety, and meet other red wine lovers. This premier event is one that you will never forget!
Before we get started with the festival details, let me give you just a few facts about Zinfandel wines. It's one of my favorite variteties and I often visit the regions just to the north of San Francisco that specialize in this amazing red.
Most Zins are powerful wines that offer fruity flavors as well as a little spice. They pair well with heartier meals such as steaks, pastas with cream sauce, or even a big juicy burger.
California is the biggest producer of Zinfandels, especially in regions within a few hours of San Francisco. Expect to find the biggest, boldest Zins from Dry Creek Valley and Rockpile Ridge in Sonoma.
The grapes in the photo below are in Dry Creek Valley. I took this in August, which is when the grapes turn blue and purple as they continue to ripen on the vine.
Lodi, the Sierra Foothills, and the Central Valley also produce a large number of Zin wines. Many of these are a little lighter than those produced in the regions mentioned above, but still delicious. These are the regions to buy from if you are looking for a great value wine.
During the tasting event, make sure you also sample some late harvest and old vine Zins. Late harvest wines are left on the vine longer, so they are thicker and sweet. These are amazing with a little dark chocolate. The old vine Zins are from older vines, which tend to produce heavier, more concentrated wines. They are delicious, but often a little more expensive.
Now that you know a little more about Zinfandel wines, let's head into the details for this year's event.
All details below are from the 2019 Zinfandel Experience Festival. It will give you an idea on what to expect for 2020. More details will be available soon.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 17
Welcome Reception - Dine at One Market Pavilion
6:30pm - 9pm at One Market
The wine festival kicks off with a special dining experience provided by award-winning Chef Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant. The dinner allows attendees and winemakers to enjoy an excellent meal as they talk more about Zinfandel wines.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 18
10:30am - 1pm at Palace Hotel at 2 New Montgomery
This morning seminar-style tasting is for serious Zinfandel lovers. During this professional tasting seminar, you will learn more about "mixed blacks," or varietals that blend well with Zinfandel to give it even more flavor. Three varietals will be discussed including Carignane, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet. This event is moderated by Joel Peterson, Winemaker Ravenswood Winery.
Winemakers Auction & Dinner - Grape Gatsby Gala
5:30pm - 10:30pm at the Palace Hotel at 2 New Montgomery
This glamorous party consists of a reception with exclusive magnums and reserve offerings, an elegant dinner, and an auction. Come dressed to impress and rub elbows with celebrities of the wine world in this intimate setting.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 19
11am - 5pm at Pier 27 on the Embarcadero
This all-day event brings together the most comprehensive variety of Zinfandels and blends in the world from over 150 different wineries, all under one shiny rooftop in this new venue with spectacular views. Taste unique limited-production wines and sample bites from gourmet restaurants while you socialize with other Zin lovers.
All tickets are for sale on the official ZAP website. Click here to purchase tickets and get ready to sample some of the best Zinfandel wines on the market today!
Napa & Sonoma
If you are visiting SF specifically for the Zinfandel Experience, you may want to stay nearby. The three event venues are close to Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf, two districts that offer some of the best options in the city.
Click here to find a list of hotel recommendations in Union Square.
Click here to find the best places to stay in Fisherman's Wharf.
You can also start by looking at the deals on TripAdvisor.com. Click here to find their current list of deals all over San Francisco.
SF Ballet: Head over to the War Memorial Opera House to catch a performance from the SF Ballet. They perform a variety of works from the classics to modern pieces. Click here for the full SF Ballet calendar.
Golden State Warriors Basketball: Head over to Oakland to catch the Golden State Warriors in action. They play a half dozen games this month at the Oracle Arena. See this month's schedule of games.
SF Theater: Each month in SF, you will find a variety of theater performances. This month, large productions including shows such as Finding Neverland, The Lion King and Wicked are playing at the bigger theaters. You will also find several new or smaller shows at intimate theaters all over town. Click here for the full theater calendar for this month.