Yes, January 29, 2011, was a while ago. And, yes, I still remember the ZAP Grand Tasting at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center vividly. It was a fitfully drizzly day, but we had a fine time tasting, and a fantastic dinner at A16 on Chestnut Street after the tasting.
There were more than 250 wineries offering samples of their Zinfandel wines. We knew, going in, that we couldn't taste them all. So, as we stood in line waiting to be admitted, we looked through the program and identified the 30-some-odd wineries we thought we ought to taste. We stuck to our list (it was pretty easy to keep in my head), tasted a few wines randomly when we had finished our list, and headed out for a stroll around town (wet) and that fine dinner (with a kitchen view).
Here are the wineries we had on our list (if it isn't exactly 30 it's because I forgot someone ... which suggests they weren't that memorable). I've put an asterisk in front of those I found particularly exciting:
Accademia dei Racemi ... just because they are growing Zinfandel in Italy from Dry Creek Valley budwood.
Bedrock Wine Co.
Brazin ... easy to find wines, but we hadn't previously seen (or tasted) their vineyard designated bottlings.
*Brown Estate ... expensive, but elegant and very fine.
*C. G. Di Arie ... talked about Captain Crunch with its inventor and his wife ... fun times and really really really good wines. A favorite.
Claudia Springs ... our pals Bob and Claudia Klindt.
Dendor Patton ... our pals Bill Dendor and Dennis Patton, with their old vine "Wisdom" bottling. Nice.
Klinker Brick ... since they also bottle "Old Ghost" - see SteampunkWines.com for that.
*Lava Cap ... Another favorite.
*McNab Ridge ... doing some gimmicky but tasty Zin bottlings, like Zinister and Zinzilla.
*Michael-David ... new collection of appellation Zins, named after the sins (as in Seven Deadly Sins, one of their other bottlings). Very vine and quite pricey.
Milliaire (and Black Sheep) ... old vine Ghiradelli Vineyard; we need a trip to taste in Murphys.
*Pendroncelli ... Bargain Alert! Mother Clone and "reserve" bottlings were very good, and very reasonably priced.
Puccioni ... old friend Glenn Proctor, from Ciatti.
*Ridge ... lots of great Zin bottlings, but they all require a bit of air to open up.
Rock Wall Wine Co. (where Rosenblum went after "Rosenblum" was sold)
*Saldo ... how come so few people outside the industry understand what Dave Phinney is doing at Orin Swift? And why aren't more people amazed at his business success?
Sausal ... a soft spot in DAH's heart for this small winery.
*Scott Harvey ... great Sierra Foothill wines, great old vines.
Seghesio ... didn't taste here, too crowded.
Sextant ... local SLO Zin specialist.
Steele Wines ... where DAH used to work, when it was Konocti.
*Stephen & Walker ... stylish wines from friends Tony S and Nancy W.
*Terra d'Oro ... "reserve" brand for Montevina (Trinchero Family) - under-rated wines, IMHO.
The Federalist ... gimmicky, but the label got us to taste it ... and lost us, when they explained that the owner had no family link to Alexander Hamilton.
*Valdez Family ... great wines, nice packaging, and a strangely homey feel to the operation.
Those dozen asterisked brands are worth seeking out!
I'm still wondering how I so readily reduced the 250+ wineries offering tasting to the 30 I thought worthy of our time (before palate fatigue could set in). I feel slightly guilty for giving no time or attention to 220 wineries ...
And it is waaaaayyyy too many months until ZAP 2012's Grand Tasting.