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Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco, California

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Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco, California
The Zinfandel Festival is an annual event held in San Francisco, California, a production of a non-profit organization called Zinfandel Advocates and Producers or ZAP. The 2013 edition stretches over a long weekend, starting on January 31st, 2013 and goes through February 2nd, 2013.

Epicuria

The kick-off event is Epicuria, a pairing event formerly called “Good Eats and Zinfandel Pairing”, a name which better explained the concept: fifty chefs create dishes to pair with fifty zinfandel wines. The chefs are from local restaurants, catering companies, culinary programs and in some cases work for the wineries directly.

Although the zinfandel grape can produce many different kinds of wine, today its best known for being a bold red, and many of the chefs that participate in the pairing go in that direction. For instance, Rosamunde Sausage Grill, a restaurant better known for its craft beer menu, paired a Saddleback Cellars zinfandel with a lamb merguez and wild boar sausage with mango chutney and sauerkraut.

But since the point of this event is show off the varietal in all its many aspects, there are more unusual pairings that wouldn’t immediately leap to mind. For instance, Swan Oyster Depot, the San Francisco seafood institution, went nontrad with a Peachy Canyon zinfandel with shrimp cocktail. Several chefs used zinfandel in dessert pairings, notably a Grgich Hills Estate zinfandel paired with lavender black cherry vanilla caramel from Sacramento’s 3D Candies.

Epicuria is held at the Concourse Exhibition Center, a purpose built event space that became the event’s new home after it outgrew its former digs at the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason. Although long-time festival goers miss the waterfront location, the Concourse is appreciated for its carpeted floors, which helps to keep the noise level down. Be warned, readers who do not like big events: this one always attracts a big crowd. And be warned, everyone: you’ll definitely want to pace yourself. Tickets: $125 for non ZAP members.

  • Read the details on Epicuria including a link to purchase tickets.


  • Flights and the Winemakers' Dinner

    On February 1st, 2013, the first event of the day is called Flights, a seminar-format wine tasting which includes speakers from Napa, Sonoma, Lodi and Mendocino counties, and takes place at the Fairmont Hotel. It kicks off at the barely civilized hour of 10:30 a.m. and goes until 1 p.m. Tickets: $75 for non ZAP members.

  • The details on Flight, including a link to purchase tickets.


  • There are a few hours for a nap before that evening’s Winemakers Dinner, which starts at 5 p.m.. also at the Fairmont Hotel. This is a formal affair with a Casablanca theme. The evening includes a live and silent auction, the proceeds of which benefit ZAP. Tickets are $250 and include a ZAP membership.

  • Read the details on the Winemakers’ Dinner.
  • The Grand Tasting

    The final event of the festival is a Grand Tasting on February 2nd, 2013. This is billed both as the world’s largest zinfandel tasting, and the world’s largest tasting from a single varietal, with more than 200 zinfandels poured. The event is held at the Concourse, and it’s open to the public from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ZAP members get in an hour earlier at 1p.m., and those members who have upgraded their membership to “Heritage” level or higher will have access to library and reserve zinfandels that won’t be available to the general public. (Details about ZAP membership here.)

  • Read the details on the Grand Tasting, including a link to purchase tickets.


  • Read Yelp reviews of the Zinfandel Festival.
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