It’s ZAP Time in the City

Image courtesy of ZAP

Image courtesy of ZAP

Coming to San Francisco next week is the Zinfandel Experience. Like the grape’s many personalities, there will be multiple venues featuring prominent and emerging winemakers. And thanks to a special invitation from Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP), yours truly will be attending two of next week’s events: the Trade & Media Event, being held at Rock Wall Wine Company (Jan. 28th), and Epicuria (Jan 29th), a wine and food pairing extravaganza being hosted by the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio.

Unlike Pinot Noir or Merlot, the Zinfandel grape comes in many forms: red, white, rosé, sweet, late-harvest (dessert) style, Beaujolais-style and even sparkling. And to complicate things further, its flavor is strongly influenced by the age of the vines and the region grown.

A sampling of Zinfandel wines

A sampling of Zinfandel wines

My experience to date is primarily based on the wines from the Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley. I tend to think of these red Zinfandel wines as either spicy or jammy, and people seem to gravitate to one style versus the other. I like both styles, depending on the time of year and the mood my mouth is in — do I want something that is bold and jammy and would pair well with BBQ, or do I want a wine that is lush, complex, peppery, brambly, perhaps even a little delicate — and a few wineries I visit often when I head to Sonoma, some of whom will be pouring at ZAP, are:

If you haven’t purchased a ticket to one of the events yet, you should. Now. Or you will kick yourself once you read my post-event followup about some of the incredible wines I will (and you should) have the pleasure of experiencing, all from your own backyard if you live in the SF Bay Area, that is.

Cheers! and hope to see you there.

Headin’ down to Central Cali, Cali

The last time I was anywhere near Solvang, Buellton, Santa Ynez Valley, was in 1993 when I moved from 100-degree-sweat-dripping-down-my-back Los Angeles to 63-degree-fog-covered-down-comforter-must San Francisco. We followed the countless signs to Peasoup Andersons — it’s actually obligatory to stop in as one must display proof of visit before proceeding along Highway 101 — ate then breathed a sign of relief to actually be on our way North while cats chilled in the back of the not-Ford-350 truck.

This late night drive dredged up memories of lying in the back seat of the family car while driving cross country along Route 66 between whatever Air Force base my father was stationed at to my grandparents’ home, starring at the clouds circling the moon, re-imagining them as angels or spirits long passed, feeling alone in the vast landscape that lined the forever road.

The view from Le Cuvier in Paso Robles

The view from Le Cuvier in Paso Robles

Angst of a new world awaiting me in San Francisco filled my thoughts that night. Excitement fills my thoughts today as I head down Hwy 101. In 1993 the Central Valley (to me) was just a place one had to drive through to get to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Since then it has become a land appreciated for its raw rugged beauty that allows nature to reign supreme, especially the Grape Gods.

Oh the Grape Gods of this gorgeous region, how they thrive and flourish and tempt us mere mortals with its intoxicating nectar. I would willingly wash the feet of these Gods as thanks for their perseverance to help us see, penance for not heretofore knowing of their brilliance and impact.

I am on my way to the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference to study their land, breathe their air, learn their words, taste their bounty and visit their thrones. Upon my return to reality, I will share their wisdom with you. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to ask of them.

Their humble servant,
Chasing Jen

So much to share, so little time …

i’m on vacation until about mid-August, so posts are more than a bit behind.  When I land home-side, will share stories of my many adventures.  A short list of hi-lites include:  three days of tasting wine and enjoying the food and people of Virginia; visiting my Aunt Donna (and her husband Joe) in West Jefferson, NC (took her wine tasting, can’t wait to post her pic online and our tasting notes); enjoying REAL banana pudding (my grandmother’s recipe); visiting Asheville, NC (mingled with a few locals and thoroughly enjoyed the food and beer and art scene); and now in Athens, GA. Next stops, LaFayette, GA and Brooklyn, New York.  Please stay tuned …