Win Tickets To The 20th Zinfandel Festival in San Francisco!

Vinted on January 3, 2011 binned in California wine, giveaways, wine industry events

Has it really been twenty years since ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) first held their modest gathering, spearheaded by Ravenswood founder and Sonoma wine icon Joel Peterson (for a glimpse into Joel’s head, check out our interview from Dec. 2008)?

Believe it or not, ZAP’s 20th Annual Zinfandel Festival is, indeed, taking place Thursday-Saturday, January 27-29, and tickets are now on sale. Like most wine events that have grown to become ginormous in size, folks tend to have mixed reviews of the event (or, put more accurately, mixed reviews of the attendees of the event) but some of the positive press comes by way of people for whom I have a great deal of respect, such as my adopted papa Charlie Olken – so there is certainly some fun to be had, and of course the opportunity to taste a sh*tload of Zinfandel from dozens of producers.

It’s in that spirit that we’ve giving away 2 sets of 5 tickets each to two of the 20th Zinfandel Festival events – the Good Eats & Zin Pairing on Thursday, Jan. 27, and the Grand Zin Tasting on Saturday, Jan. 29 – and you can win just by leaving a comment on this post!

Details on how to win are after the jump. Just be forewarned that I’m not independently wealthy and so rather than transport winners from any worldwide destination to San Fran. via my 70-foot yacht staffed by vestal virgins, the winning peeps are on their own for any travel and expenses and the giveaway is open to U.S. readers only (sorry, loyal Estonian readers!).

Here’s how this is gonna go down:

  • Leave a comment on this post and tell us about your favorite Zin.  American? Italian Primitivo?  Big producer with a cheap bottling, or high-end expensivo limited-availability run from a small winemaking outfit?  Shout it out in the comments!
  • On Friday Jan. 7, I will randomly select two comments as the winners – one will receive five tickets to the Good Eats & Zin Pairing on Thursday, Jan. 27 6-9PM (a $700 value), and the other will receive five tickets to the Grand Zin Tasting on Saturday, Jan. 29 2-5PM (a $350 value).  Transportation and any other expenses are not included – just the tickets, people! – but you can use those tickets in any way you see fit so long as it doesn’t violate ZAP’s rules for attendance (i.e., I’m pretty sure you can’t sneak in your 16-year-old nephew).  Invite some friends, get your Zin on, and have a ball!

Mama taught me to share, so I’m going to give you a couple of my Zinfandel picks:

Look for more coverage of the above right here as we move closer to the dates of the Zinfandel Festival. Now, let’s here your Zin picks!






  • John Kowalchuk

    One of my favorite Zin experiences was when I lived in Cleveland in the late 1990's . We were dining at Michael Simon's Lola's, long before he was an Iron Chef, and we drank a 1997 Pezzi King Zin. It was sepctacular with the short ribs I ordered that night and has to this day, 11 years later, stuck in my mind. Lately, I have enjoyed the Zins from Amador County, Easton comes to mind as well.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, John. OMG, good Zin + short ribs must have been KILLER. Ok, now I am already VERY hungry (and thirsty)…

  • Lynn

    I really like Dutton-Goldfield Zinfandel, which runs about $40 give or take. But I also live in Alameda and enjoy the St Peter's Church from Rosenblum Cellars, and especially enjoy their new tasting room!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Lynn – good call on Rosenblum (I haven't been there to visit in quite a few years and found some of their other reds to be hit-or-miss, but rarely been disappointed in their Zin).


  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, Jon – I haven't had either of those yet (but will be on the lookout for them now). Cheers!

  • stevepaulo

    My favorite zin is Viano Vineyards' Sand Rock Hill Zinfandel. One of the few wines produced in Contra Costa County with grapes grown in Contra Costa County (San Francisco Bay Area AVA, part of the Central Coast AVA, Cali), the zin grapes used in Sand Rock Hill come from 80-120 year old vines overlooking the Carquinez Strait on north-facing hillsides above Martinez, CA.

    It's not the greatest in the world, but at $18, it drinks like $40. It may be hard / impossible to find, though they do sell it in local BevMo's if you happen to live in the East Bay. Or, just win a Wino Fantasy Sports league that I am a part of, and you'll get a bottle, since the Sand Rock Hill Zin is my go-to reward wine.

    • 1WineDude

      Hey Steve – interesting an unique pick! Thanks!

      BTW – since you mentioned the fantasy sports league – GO STEELERS! :-)

  • Lorne Mews

    They are a little hard to find outside of California, but Sausal has been a reliable, consistant producer of top quality zins at different price points over the years… I don't believe they make a value bottling though like ravenswood VB.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Lorne.

      Folks – btw, if you haven't checked out the wines from Lorne's winery, you are missing out; the Benton Lane Pinot is some killer juice for under $30.


  • Jon

    thi sounds really awesome, i haven't been to any of these kind of events before, thank you for the updates, i plan on going to one soon!

    • 1WineDude

      Well, Jon, if you win some tix then maybe you will be going! :)

      Did you have some Zin picks to share? Or do you need to win tix to taste some Zins before you can share your recommendations? ;-)

  • Julie

    What an awesome give-away! I gather that you'll be going? If so, wanted to let you know that Matt's going to be at the Chateau Montelena table so try to stop by as you weed through the crowds! :-)

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Julie – alas, I likely will NOT be making it. Again. :-(

  • vinogirl

    A Zin I buy, by the case, is from Clos Du Val (not available to the general public, although it used to be)…because I have a connection and it is a mere$4.60 a bottle from my insider…it is a more than palatable wine when paired with my 5 alarm chili con carne!

    • 1WineDude

      Damn, VG, that a serious hook-up!

      • vinogirl

        Actually, I think this year they started to sell it again in the tasting room only though (check it out when you are on your way up the trail to Meadowood) but not for $4.60 of course.

  • Thomas Pellechia

    It's so crowded that nobody goes to ZAP anymore…

    If you can find a Zinfandel that tastes anything like Leone di Castris Primitivo de Manduria, buy it. I've had a few thta came close or hit the mark, mostly from Dry Creek Valley wineries.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Thomas – I've found Primitivo to be hit-or-miss for me, so always pleased to get a recco. on a good one!

    • 1WineDude

      Thomas – forgot to applaud you're humor in how you started out that comment. Well played! ;-)

  • Dave N.

    I really enjoy the Klinker Brick 2007 Old Ghost Zinfandel. This is an Old Vines Zin from a 97-year-old vineyard in Lodi. It is spicy and multilayered — just right for sipping and contemplating all evening.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Dave. I've had a wine from 100-year old vines (the last vintage made from it actually) from a Sonoma producer, so I can appreciate a bit how awesome and concentrated those old vines can get. Cheers!

    • Jon Bjork

      Hey, Dave, Klinker Brick should be opening its long-awaited tasting room in Lodi next month, in time for Wine & Chocolate.

  • Thomas Pellechia


    Not my humor–Yogi Berra.

    And that's di, not de, Manduria.

    In my opinion, di Manduria Primitivo is the pinnacle example for that varietal wine.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Thomas – also, you get extra points for using "varietal" correctly!

      • Thomas Pellechia

        Well, I am a writer, Joe ;)

        • 1WineDude


          Yes, but so, presumably, are most of the others who rampantly use the word incorrectly…

  • @Misterfnygy

    I would have to say that my favorite Zin is from La Storia. Made by the Trentadue family in Geyserville. I believe that wine, as well as food, is remembered mostly by the time and place that you enjoyed it. The first time I tried this wine was with Victor Trentadue himself at a little steakhouse in Reno, NV. La Storia is his pet label and something that he is proud of. Him sharing that with me made it just a bit more special!

    • 1WineDude

      'I believe that wine, as well as food, is remembered mostly by the time and place that you enjoyed it." – AMEN to that, bruthah!

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, Dvine! Ridge are big wines… typically too big for me (but I certainly recognize how well they're made!).

    Alas, I likely will not be able to make the event :-(.

  • @thevinofile

    I'll admit I kind of like big in a CA zin. Maybe expected, but I love Orin Swift Prisoner. And if you don't like the wine the label is worth a few dollars of the $35 you spent…

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, VinoFile. Seems I've been hearing about Prisoner a lot lately.

  • Cathy Revak

    The best California zins, in my humble opinion, come from Meeker Vineyard in Geyserville. We belong to their wine club and they produce amazing tastes and varietals. They also have great sales for their members. Salute!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Cathy! Tell them to send me some samples… ;)

  • Michelle Hancock

    I must say I'm on an Old Vine Zin kick lately. And the most recent Old Vine Zin that I had was on Sunday, a day with the girls. We were drinking Bogle Old Vine Zin. I believe the grocery store sells it for about $11.99 a bottle. It's amazing, and it's even better with this new chocolate that we found, it's chili flavored chocolate. Good stuff.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Michelle – chocolate & Zin gets overlooked as a pairing sometimes, but I could see it working with the right choices (personally, I'd go for chocolate & Port, but I will try just about anything once!).

  • TonyK

    Just love 7 Deadly Zins -smokey and bacony! AS many will attest, great with ribs.
    And a heck of a QPR.
    Now, I need to get my hands on David & Michael's Lust.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Tony!

  • @emmalow

    Bota Box Old Vine Zinfadel. $19.00 for a 3 liter box that actually tastes good. Simple tasting and portable–you just can't beat that!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks – our first box recommendation here, ever, I think!

      • Emma

        Wow! I feel so unclassy but I promise it's not bad!

        • 1WineDude

          No worries, Emma – I'm no stranger to enjoying a decent boxed wine!

  • Bradlee Van Pelt

    Love reading the feedback…my choice for a Zin has to be the Summerland Winery "French Camp Vineyard" Zinfandel ($25). The style is more reminiscent of a Southern Italian primitivo. Great texture and spicy berry fruit. French Camp Vineyard is in Paso but this wine is not made in a overblown style. When driving on the 101 pass Santa Barbara, the tasting room is in Summerland. How convenient!

  • Megan

    I fell in love with Zin last summer during my first trip to the Napa area. A favorite of mine that still rings true: Ravenswood Sonoma County Old Vine Zin. I'd like to explore more into the Zin world though…there are so many great producers out there.

  • Mike

    I feel like I’m giving away a secret fishing spot. But for a chance at tickets to ZAP…Consider the passion and skill to collect then graft into ones vines cuttings from seven original, century old Zinfandel vineyards (including his own) in the Alexander Valley. Jim (J. Rickards Winery located near Geyserville between Seghesio and Silver Oak) has done exactly this with his Ancestors’ Selection Zinfandel (342 cases). Jim is also the grower/wine maker of another estate wine, the Voigt Family Vineyard Zinfandel (about 100 cases) just over the hill in the Dry Creek appellation. Open a bottle of each (about $20) and compare and enjoy. The similarities, aroma, length and balance, demonstrate the grower/winemaker’s influence, and the differences are all about terroir. Cheers!

    • 1WineDude

      Nice one – thanks Mike!

  • carinne

    7 deadly zins… a lot of spice and fantastic for the budget.

    glad to have found your site! although living in NJ i don't think I can win the ZAP tickets.

    • 1WineDude

      You could win, Carinne, but you would need to get some travel plans goin' quick afterward! :)

      • carinne

        Haha true, sir. I s'pose I'm in!

  • Craig Smalley

    I am a Zin Head and have been unable to experience ZAP because of my young kids, however this would be the first year they would be old enough to be left with a sitter.
    As for my favorite zins…
    My Budget Zin would have to be Woodenhead's Guido Venturi Vineyard, Mendocino County. This Zinfandel is amazing. On the palate, the flavors of bing cherries, plums and currants dominate, leading to a long finish with slightly peppery tannins. I know this may not be considered real a Budget wine at $29 per bottle, however it's the best wine for the price that I've had.

    My High-End Zin is 2007 Talty Estate Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley. To me this is the quintessential zinfandel. 7% Petite Sirah, 3% Carignane, and 90% Zinfandel. The nose is concentrated cherry, blackberry and plum. The finish is long and creates a need for another sip. This wine sells for $38, and is one you will impress your friends with.

    Love your site and could defiantly use the ZAP tickets, I live in Santa Rosa, CA.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Craig – good luck! :)

  • art predator

    Hey Joe,

    Fun to read all the comments your post generated!

    I agree, Ravenswood is safe go to easy to find zinfandel. I've been finding it at Big Lots for $4 recently!

    I love Ridge's zinfandels; when I think zin, I think Ridge. Two stand out zins for me last year were AUS Glaymond and from BIanchi in Paso which I compared and wrote about during the big #zinfandel shindig in November.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Gwen. Another nod to Ridge!

  • Kim Larson

    Hi Joe!

    My favorite wine as of late has been Ravenswood (not because I am kissing up to you for those AMAZING free ZAP tix) but because of it's accessibility as well as it's full-flavor and it's ability to make even the simplest meals feel a little classier. With the economy and the rough year we had in 2010, it is nice to know we can still afford to indulge without breaking the bank!

    Thanks for considering my comment!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Kim. Agreeing with my wine picks isn't going to get you on my good side (I reserve that for compliments about my stylish looks!) but fortunately for you the giveaway is random and not influenced by compliments about my palate ;-).


  • @ArtistLani

    Hey Joe. While I would like to be original, I must say that Ravenswood is also my top Zin pick. PowderKeg is a decent California Zin as well. :) Aside from the white wines, I'm a California girl through and through. Take care, and keep up the good work!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Lani – you don't like white wines? Or just not CA white wines?

  • Jonny Cigar

    Best Zin experience, hands down! … Turley Rattlesnake Ridge 2007 Zinfandel. Had it while dining at the Essex Culinary Resort in Essex, VT two days after Christmas. A Sapphire and pearls cocktail started the night off and with the Turley clocking in at 15.9% alcohol, if you'd have held a match to my breath I could have blown fire, and given the fact that it was -4 degrees, don't think the notion hadn't crossed my mind… The wine was delicious and made me feel the way I imagine Sinatra felt playing to sold out crowds at the Paramount back in the 40s.

    • 1WineDude

      HA!! Excellent, Jonny!

    • 1WineDude


    • Jonny Cigar

      Thanks, Old Sport…who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men…the Rattlesnake do!

  • 1WineDude

    Alrighty, folks – we have winners who I will be contacting via email shortly.

    If you're still interested in winning some ZAP tix, head over to… – they're giving away tix there as well!


  • Shelly

    Oh, how I love living near Zin heaven (close to Fairplay AND Lodi.) I have been loving DK Cellars for YEARS. Many Zinfandel offerings. I am seeking a new favorite however, and I have waited a year to be able to attend this event. Maybe I'll discover some euphoric zin that has not passed my lips yet. Looking forward to some fantastic wine!!

  • chris benson

    My latest favorite is Rodney Strong Knotty Vine Zinfandel. Russina River , berry, peppery jammy. Delish!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, chris!

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