Strategy for the 2012 ZAP Festival Grand Tasting

ZAP Grand Tasting

ZAP Grand Tasting, January 28, 2012

The 2012 Zinfandel Festival takes place this week in San Francisco, from January 26 to 28.  This festival, organized by the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) organization is a celebration of the Zinfandel varietal.  If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, you can go here and do so.

As a lead-in to the Festival, there are In-Store Tastings happening this week with some of the Grand Tasting winery participants.  On Wednesday, you can find McCay Cellars, Benessere Vineyards, D-Cubed Cellars, Hendry Wines, JC Cellars, and Joel Gott wineries at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant from 4:30 to 7:30.  On Thursday, Dashe Cellars and Ridge Vineyards will be at the Press Club between 6:00 and 9:00.

At the 2012 Zinfandel Festival, the dine-around wine and food pairing event Epicuria is on Thursday night.  The Friday events are currently sold out – Flights (the structured wine tasting sessions) and the Winemaker Dinner (with a Las Vegas theme this year).  On Saturday, the Festival culminates in a walk-around tasting of hundreds of Zinfandels at the Grand Tasting, which has moved to the Concourse this year (at 8th and Brannan) after many years at Fort Mason.

The Grand Tasting is huge, and enormously popular.  If you are going this year, we wanted to help you plan your strategy for the Grand Tasting on Saturday, because there will be 200 wineries present.  That’s right, two hundred.  So you’re gonna need a plan.

First, drink plenty of water (before, during, and after).  Second, have a decent meal beforehand because you don’t want to drink on an empty stomach and you’re going to want more than just bread and cheese as the counterpart to all that wine.  Third, go to the event expecting to have fun but also be fully prepared to be surrounded by plenty of people drinking plenty of wine with high alcohol levels.

Lastly, you should really have a list of wineries that you want to target.  You will never make it through 200 wineries and if you try things alphabetically you’ll miss out on the excellent wine from Frank Nerelli at ZinAlley.  Below are our suggestions for the wineries you should focus on, based on our personal experiences at the ZAP Grand Tasting, in tasting rooms, other tasting events, and at home: 

Don’t Miss These Wineries At The 2012 ZAP Grand Tasting:

Gamba Vineyards and Winery (Fulton, CA)

Hendry (Napa, CA)

Kokomo Winery (Healdsburg, CA)

Mauritson Wines (Healdsburg, CA)

Mounts Family Winery (Healdsburg, CA)

Robert Biale Vineyards (Napa, CA)

Seghesio Family Vineyards (Healdsburg, CA)

Tofanelli Family Vineyard  (Calistoga, CA)

Turley Wine Cellars (Templeton, CA)

Wilson Winery and Vineyards (Healdsburg, CA)

ZinAlley Winery (Templeton, CA)


Additional Wineries We Suggest You Try:

Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves (Healdsburg, CA)

Black Sears (Angwin, CA)

Carlisle Winery and Vineyards (Santa Rosa, CA)

Hartford Family Winery (Forestville, CA)

Ridge/Lytton Springs (Healdsburg, CA)

Sausal Winery (Healdsburg, CA)

Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery (Clearlake Oaks, CA)

Storrs Winery (Santa Cruz, CA)

Talty Vineyards and Winery (Healdsburg, CA)

Woodenhead (Santa Rosa, CA)

Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $69 at the door, but only $59 if you purchase them in advance, so go here to do that.  Also, if you are a ZAP Member (or join the organization), then you can get into the Grand Tasting an hour ahead of non-members.


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