Last weekend, in a room full of wine lovers from all around, I attended an event so unique, educational and fun that I have never experienced before— The 2014 Zinfandel Experience by ZAP.
The Thursday before, I had a special invite to attend Epicuria. Imagine a room full of the best Zins from Northern California, each paired with a special dish from top restaurants in the area. Restaurants like Ruth Chris, Johnny Garlic’s (Guy Fieri’s restaurant), Mustards Grill, to name a few. Attendees walked from table to table in a very intimate setting, each restaurant prepared a special dish that paired perfectly with the zin of the winery they were partnered with.
These culinary creations were some of the best I have ever had. Dishes like Sweet Potato Timbales, savory pork chops, chocolate salad, duck, and more. One of my favorites was a dish that was really out of my comfort zone — Duck, Duck, Mouse— but I figured “when in Rome” and went for it. I was completely shocked that I liked it and actually went back for a second one.
Epicuria only left me craving for more and I couldn’t wait until the main event— Saturday’s Tasting Tracks. The location was different than in year’s past and we couldn’t wait to experience a day full of the best varieties of Zinfandel’s.
My husband and I arrived on a beautiful, sunny day to the Presidio. We soaked in the scenery before heading into our first event, Terrior.
Our morning kicked off with Terrior— an educational experience where we learned about and tasted some of the most outstanding Zinfandel growing regions in California including Napa, Lodi, Sonoma, Sierra Foothills, Paso Robles and more.
Right when we walked in we were handed a gorgeous engraved ZAP wine glass and a loaf of bread made by the students at the local City College of SF. We walked around each of the appellations and were educated on each while trying samples from the wines they had available. Right away my husband knew exactly how he would taste at each appellation, he would try a bold wine they chose and then he would try a wine with the best looking label. I loved his method because a majority of people buy wines based on the labels alone.
The winner of the best label from the Terrior event went to Boneshaker. Not only is this an incredibly artistic label, but it glows in the dark! Need I say more?
Terrior was probably the best event I have ever experienced in my year’s of attending wine events. I truly enjoyed the intimate setting and getting a chance to talk to the representatives at each appellation without feeling rushed or crowded to move to the next. We were able to ask questions, enjoy the company of each other, and make friends all around us.
After Terrior it was time to eat some lunch before the next event. We hopped on the free shuttle and headed to the designated lunch spot. There we were able to purchase food tickets which were redeemable at some of San Francisco’s finest food trucks. Each truck had two yummy food options to choose from— a vegetarian and a meat.
The food was good, however the only thing I would change is either having more food trucks available or switching the food trucks out after the first wine tasting session and allowing new food trucks to come in. It was unfortunate to see people trying to redeem their already purchased food tickets and the food trucks being sold out. Luckily ZAP refunded everyone, but it would have been nice to continue offering food during the second session break like planned.
After Terrior we decided to stay in the food truck area and attend the Barrel and Reserve Tasting. Little did we know we would end up with a huge surprise during the event. Once the Barrel and Reserve tasting started we made our way through the wineries and stopped at Ravenswood. After trying some of their Zin’s we mentioned that my husband knew one of the founders son’s of Ravenswood from high school. The lady who was pouring eyes lit up as she learned this and immediately told us that he opened his own winery and was pouring in the very room we were standing in! We made our way to visit with Morgan who is the owner of Bedrock Wine.
It was such a nice surprise and they were able to catch up while tasting some of the incredible wines Morgan has produced.
Our Zinfandel Experience ended with the Sensory Tasting, and as they say, we definitely saved the best for last! The Sensory Tasting had a great vibe to it and we couldn’t wait to see all they had in store for us. There were definitely a lot more people at this event than the others but I loved how we were able to still walk around and visit wineries and chat without feeling rushed or crammed.
The Sensory Tasting was such a fun experience! Surrounding the perimeter of the building were culinary creations prepared by the local city college.
This allowed us to try our zin paired with each of the foods they had prepared to show you how your palette changes with each dish. It was quite mind blowing to experience it.
Throughout the event we sampled incredible wines from all over and I fell in love with the wines from D Cubed!
Familiar wineries like V Sattui and St. Francis were even there. We have quite a history with the people at V. Sattui so it was nice to see some familiar faces and catch up with them during the event.
Towards the end of the event, several glasses of wine in, we decided we would end the day with olive oil and balsamic tastings from Lucero. I am having a hard time trying to describe the experience we had during this tasting but let’s just say I have been craving their olive oils since we left them!
We had such an amazing time and can not wait until next year’s. Mark your calendars because this is an event not to miss!
* I received complimentary tickets to facilitate my review, opinions are 100% my own.