Celebrating ten years, this weekend’s Zinfest kicked off with a casual outdoor dinner on the breezy shores of Lodi Lake. Wine lovers from as far as Vancouver and as near as Palo Alto and Sacramento and presenters including Fred Swan, Ellen Landis, and of course local Ambassador Randy Caparoso, joined local winemakers to honor the growers. Many of the growers volunteered to drive the golf shuttles and pour wines before sitting down for an amazing dinner of “airline” chicken and gigantic slabs of bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Crisp local Vermentinos, Albarinos, Pinot Grigios, dry rosé wines, and naturally a plethora of old vine Zins were generously poured and re-poured, including the 2010
Lange Twins Centennial Zinfandel, of which only 16 barrels were produced. It was hard to know what to try next, but there was plenty of time between dancing, a dessert buffet, and what I like to call the “cigar stroll.”
Saturday’s main event, ZinFest Wine Festival, offered 250 wines from 50 Lodi wineries, local provisions and souvenirs, strolling and main stage musicians, and an outdoor piano bar under the shade of very tall trees. For the inquisitive, they offered ZinFest Wine School and ZinFest Cooking School presentations, which included Chef Tony Lawrence’s Chocolate Salad paired with the 2012 St. Amant Marian’s Zinfandel, a wine I gave a 100 point score to recently. The “Up in Smoke” BBQ Demo and Barrel Building Demo were popular attractions! New this year was the highly entertaining ZinFest Vintner’s Regatta. Six winemakers crafted “boats” from wine barrels. As “Admiral” Camron King, Executive Director, Lodi Winegrape Commission, dispatched the six vessels to the starting line, only three sailed without a hitch. One toppled over as one of its sailors concentrated more on his water gun than sailing. Another lost an oar-hold and oar and a third took on water and sank. Tom Holdener of Macchia pulled off the win, despite a rough start, which entailed a return to launch point to bail water and water balloons out of the hull of his dinosaur-themed craft.
On Sunday participating wineries offered special Open Houses, including an Oyster and
Sausage BBQ on the lawn at Borra Vineyards, and live bluegrass at Harney Lane Winery.
What is your favorite Lodi wine?
Have you heard of Lodi Native, a project with minimal winemaking and maximum exposure of old vine grape character? If not, check back here for more…..