Zinfandel Experience: Sip Amazing Zin Wines from Around the World

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: September 10, 2023

Do you love Zinfandel wine? If so, mark your calendars for January 25, 26, & 27, 2024 for the Zinfandel Experience (ZinEX) wine tasting event!

ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) offers a fresh way to taste Zinfandel wines during their annual event, which is held at various venues, including One Market and the historical Klamath ferry boat docked at Pier 9.

Over the course of three days, you get the chance to meet some of the top producers, learn more about this popular varietal, and meet other red wine lovers. This premier event is one that you will never forget!

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

A Little About Zinfandel Wine

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.

Zinfandel grapes ripening on the vine in Dry Creek Valley, California

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.

>> Check out some of Northern CA's top wine regions

Schedule of Events for 2024

Thursday, January 25

Opening Night!

5:30 pm - 8:30 pm at Wine and Wall, the restaurant at One Market

The wine festival kicks off with a special dining experience for its VIP ticket holders only. The dinner allows attendees and winemakers to enjoy an excellent meal as they talk more about Zinfandel wines.

This year's theme is "Paired to Perfection," and consists of eight pairings of different Zins with gourmet food created for each one!

Friday, January 26

The following events are scheduled for Friday. 

VIP Seminar

On the second floor of the Ferry Building, from 11 am to 1 pm, for VIP ticket holders only

VIP "Evening with the Winemakers" and Auction

A semi-formal event on the historic Klamath ferry boat, from 5:30 to 10:30 pm, for VIP ticket holders only

This glamorous party consists of a reception with exclusive vintage magnums, an elegant dinner, dessert and gourmet cheeses in the ballroom, and an auction.

Come dressed to impress and rub elbows with celebrities of the wine world in this intimate setting.

Saturday, January 27

Grand Tasting

12 pm - 4 pm at One Market Pavilion

This main event of the three-day ZinEX festival brings together the most comprehensive variety of Zinfandels and Zin blends in the world (over 200 from more than 80 different wineries), all under one roof.

Taste unique limited-production wines and sample bites from gourmet restaurants while you socialize with other Zin lovers and meet the winemakers.

VIP ticket holders are granted access to the Grand Tasting and the private Heritage Lounge one hour earlier, from 11 am to 4 pm.

Ticketing Information

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!

Places to Stay Near the Event

If you are visiting SF specifically for the Zinfandel Experience, you may want to stay nearby. The 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 downtown SF.

Click here to find a current list of deals all over San Francisco

Other Fun Events this Month

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 the Chase Center to catch the Golden State Warriors in action. They play a half dozen games this month at the Chase Center. 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 "The Wiz" and "MJ, the Musical" 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.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

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It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

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