The Zinfandel Festival
Various locations
Thurs Jan. 26 to Sat Jan. 28

The 21st annual Zinfandel Advocates and Producer’s Zinfandel Festival a splendid celebration of one of the more versatile varieties of northern California’s spectacular grapes — offers three days of vino bliss with four very different events. More than 200 wineries, several local restaurants and gaggles of wine lovers will take part in this festival of Zin, and tickets are already getting hard to come by. Go the distance with all four events, or just raise a glass with a flight or a pairing. Whichever way you go, there is no better opportunity to enjoy all of the beauty this complex fruit has to offer than at one of the largest single-varietal celebrations in the world.

Epicuria: Food and Zin Pairings
Concourse Exhibition Center
635 8th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 490-5800

Price: $95 for ZAP members/$125 non-members
Hours: Thurs Jan. 26 – 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Master chefs and masterful wines come together in perfect harmony in this fantastic flavorful kickoff to the festival. Fifty restaurants and 50 of the top Zinfandel wineries get together for pairings, taking guests on a wild journey of gastronomic goodness. For example, Ballentine Vineyards has paired its wines with Rose’s Café, serving whipped gorgonzola crostini with a spiced honey gastrique. Still not convinced? Ridge Vineyards has partnered up with Wayfare Tavern and will be tantalizing your palate with braised lamb shoulder, black pepper spaetzle with a white anchovy salsa verde. This pairing doesn’t just stick to the savory, either; Barefoot Cellars cooked up confections with Sonoma Cake Creations presenting its wines alongside mini cupcakes and mini cheesecakes with Zinfandel sauces.

Related: Wine Country’s Best White Wines

wineglass Swirl, Sip And Savor At The 2012 Zinfandel Festival

(credit: Thinkstock)

Flights!: Forums of Flavor
Westin St. Francis Hotel
335 Powell St., 32nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 397-7000

Price: $60 for ZAP members/$75 for non-members
Hours: Fri Jan. 27 – 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Learning tastes good, and this more serious event will prove it to you. Part tasting, part seminar, and part vocabulary lesson—the morning will be all delicious. Attendees may mix, mingle and swirl with themed flights of Zinfandel by some of the most experienced wine makers in the world, digging into the nuances and vast differences within the variety. If white Zin was previously what you thought of when it came to Zinfandels, be prepared for some fierce epiphanies.

Related: South Bay’s Top Wine Tasting Rooms

westinstfrancis Swirl, Sip And Savor At The 2012 Zinfandel Festival


Winemakers Dinner: Viva Las Vegas
Westin St. Francis Hotel
335 Powell St., 32nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 397-7000

Price: $225
Hours: Fri Jan. 27 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Odds are this Zinfandel-centric menu will be a big winner, as the Vegas-themed Winemaker Dinner will turn the St. Francis Hotel into a true Zin City. With a benefit auction to keep the action moving, it’s the 28 wineries and stupendous plated food that will be the real jackpot. Winemakers will break bread at each table, allowing attendees to beg wine tips while talking about which auction items to splurge on (everything from wine-themed artwork to rare bottles).

Related: California’s Best Wine Country On A Budget

winebottle Swirl, Sip And Savor At The 2012 Zinfandel Festival

(credit: Thinkstock)

Grand Tasting: From A to Zin
Concourse Exhibition Center
635 8th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 490-5800

Price: $49 for ZAP members/$59 for non-members/$69 at the door
Hours: Sat Jan. 28 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The most Zintacular event of them all, this is the largest single-varietal tasting in the world. Experience all of the distinctive characteristics of the Zin in one afternoon, as more than 200 wineries, pouring 600 zinfandels will lubricate an awesome afternoon. If 600 wines makes your head spin, check out ZinTracks, an interactive tasting guide from the official website. As you build your own Zin adventure, ZinTracks organizes the wine booths by region, barrel samples, price, vintage, farming practice and a few fun facts about the winemakers along the way. Make sure to check out the Winemaker Workshops to pick up practical Zin tips, including the best cheeses and chocolates to pair with your favorite picks from the festival.

Related: San Francisco’s Best Wine Specialty Stores

Nicolette Glade is a freelance writer and photographer, food nut, dive bar hound, and has travelled from South America to Asia searching for her foodie fix. A Jersey native, she now calls the Bay Area her home and has found plenty of gastronomic toys to play with right in her own backyard. You can read more of her culinary adventures on

  1. Steve Howe says:

    ZAP is the ultimate wine tasting for Zinfandel Lovers! There are way more wine available to taste than a person could possibly taste. The biggest challenge is deciding which wines to taste.

    If you didn’t go this year, mark it on your calender for 2013!

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