ZAP'S FIRST 'ZINPOSIUM' ATTRACTS MORE THAN 200 PEOPLE
June 24, 2002--- More than 200 people attended Zinfandel Advocates & Producers' first 'Zinposium' on June 15 at the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park. The 'Conference on American Zinfandel' consisted of panel discussions and tastings during the day and a dinner with dancing at the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in Fulton in the evening. Over 30 ZAP Advocate member volunteers assisted throughout the day. Scientists from UC, Davis and the University of Zagreb presented the most recent findings about the origin of Zinfandel.
Audiotapes of all of the day's sessions can be purchased for $95.00 from the ZAP office at email@example.com or 530/274-4900 (or P.O.B. 1487, Rough & Ready CA 95975).
Here are highlights from the day:
Welcoming remarks were delivered by Grady Wann of Quivira Vineyards and ZAP President. The first panel was 'Zinfandel in America.' Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home Winery kept the attendees chuckling as he reminisced about the origins of Sutter Home's White Zinfandel, beginning on an experimental scale in 1972, growing to 34,000 cases by 1980 and over 10 million cases in 2000. He joked that in 1985 (1.5 million cases) the winery was bottling the wine and loading trucks at the same time, providing 'convoy discounts' and 'freeway aging.'
Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars (in Alameda) talked about his region's wine history, including that the largest winery in the world in 1911 was Wine Haven in Richmond, with a capacity of 25 million gallons.
Grady Wann moderated the next session, 'A Discussion of Zinfandel Research.' Historian Charles Sullivan discussed Zinfandel's history, expanding on the timeline on ZAP's website (www.zinfandel.org). He estimates that the name 'Zinfindel' was "slapped" on the grape by Americans between 1829 and 1832. He reminded everyone that Agostin Harazthy did not introduce Zinfandel in California; he explained that wine connoisseurs and home winemakers on the East Coast in the 1890s didn't know what Zinfandel was; he clarified other details of Zinfandel's early life in the U.S..
James Wolpert, Ph.D., UC Davis, Department of Viticulture and Enology detailed the three phases of development of the Heritage Vineyard, a collection of old-vine Zinfandel selections now totaling 90, gathered by Zinfandel 'safari scouts and trailblzers' from 14 different counties throughout California (and located with UC's experimental vineyard in Oakville, Napa Valley).
Carole Meredith, Ph.D, UC Davis, Department of Enology & Viticulture, presented 'Zinquest: The Prologue,' a lively recap of her work. By 1995, thanks to DNA typing, it was established that Zinfandel and Primitivo were the same. The next closest relative she studied was a Croatian varietal, Plavac mali ("plah-vahtz mahlee"). Next to speak was Ivan Pejic, Ph.D., Department of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biometrics, University of Zagreb, who explained that he and his University of Zagreb colleague Dr. Edi Maletic have the mission to protect the more than 130 native Croatian grape varietals. Pejic, Maletic and Meredith have now established that Plavac mali is an offspring of Zinfandel and the Croatian varietal Dobricic. After four years of searching, they found a grape called Crljenak kastelanski ("sirl-yen-ack kastelanski") near the town of Split; DNA testing in Meredith's Davis lab confirmed that Zinfandel, Primitivo and Crljenak kastelanski are genetically linked, having originated on Croatia's Dalmatian coast. The Crljenak varietal is so limited in its propagation today in Croatia that no 100% Crljenak wine is made.
'Zinfandel and Its Relatives' followed, a tasting of two 1999 Zinfandels, a 1999 Primitivo, a 2000 Primitivo and a 1999 Plavac mali: this was moderated by Doug Beckett of Peachy Canyon Winery and panelists were Mike Grgich (Grgich Hills Cellar), Gregory Perucci (Accademia dei Racemi) and Edi Maletic, Ph.D, Department of Viticulture & Enology, University of Zagreb.
Next on the Zinposium schedule was a 'walkabout' regional tasting of Zinfandels.
Michael Chiarello of Chiarello Family Vineyards and Napa Style, chef, television host and cookbook author, spoke to the group before lunch about the foods he selected for the luncheon and in general about Zinfandel and food and cooking. He said, "Zinfandel is your buddy, it's all about flavors," and explained that unlike other wines Zinfandel can go with chicken or lamb or beef. "How do you make sure what you're cooking will go with Zinfandel?" was a question from the audience; Chiarello answered, "eating with your hands helps" and then explained at length that caramelizing vegetables and meats "makes a bridge" and brings the wine and food into harmony.
Afternoon break-out sessions, 'Conversations with Growers and Winemakers' represented four growing regions---Lodi, Sierra Foothills, Dry Creek and Mendocino.
Ravenswood winemaker Joel Peterson presented 'Zinfandel Blending: To blend or not to blend, that is the question,' where attendees blended their own Zinfandel with other varietals including Carignane, Alicante Bouschet, and Petite Sirah.
'Old Vines/New Vines - A Comparative Tasting' was conducted by Bob Biale (Robert Biale Vineyards), Matt Cline (Cline Cellars), David Gates (Ridge Vineyards) and Carol Shelton (Carol Shelton Wines), each of whom brought two wines to be tasted--one old vine, one new. This group elicited much discussion and many questions from the audience; at one point Cline said that old vine Zinfandel is "the best example of terroir, if you want to taste the site." Shelton intrigued the tasters by explaining that she searches for "middle mouth density" in the Zinfandels she makes.
'One Vineyard, Many Vintners - The Monte Rosso Vineyard Story' was a panel with Linda Schaffer, vineyard manager of the Monte Rosso Vineyard and Mark Oberschutte of Louis Martini Winery with winemakers Mike McGrath of Villa Mt. Eden, Jeff Cohn of Rosenblum Cellars and Peter Mathis of Ravenswood (all of whom brought their Monte Rosso wines for tasting).
The panel 'Zinfandel Pioneers Discuss the Many Trails of Zinfandel' ended the day. ZAP founding members Joel Peterson of Ravenswood, Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards and Jerry Seps of Storybook Mountain Vineyards reminisced about their Zinfandel careers. "Zinfandel has more SKUs per the number of wineries today, all because of unique vineyards and the craftman-y character of Zinfandel," Joel Peterson explained. Draper said "we don't want to be a commodity like Chardonnay or Cabernet.
The audience responded warmly as each of these Zinfandel 'legends' were asked to remember their most challenging vintage. For Draper, it was grapes from Occidental in 1974; when the truck arrived to pick up the newly harvested grapes, the new owner had to be tackled and wrestled away from the grapes which he was sprinkling with powdered sugar (because a neighbor had told him that would increase the grapes' value to the winery). For Peterson, it was one of his first years as a winemaker when a new press literally fell off a precipice in the winery and was nearly destroyed and, during the same crush season, when bug spray as well as a flashlight fell into a vat ("the first light wine I ever made"). For Seps, it was the 1997 vintage, 60% of which 'stuck' during fermentation. In discussing Zinfandel's future, Draper said that "the future is phenomenal, since Zinfandel is more site specific than any other varietal in California, putting it in a leadership position."
More than 90 ZAP wineries will present their wines to the trade and the public this summer in Anaheim on July 16 at the Disneyland Grand California Hotel (details at www.zinfandel.org) and in San Diego at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina on July 18, in market visits called Pioneers on the Zinfandel Frontier: America's Heritage Wine Tour. The 13th Annual ZAP Festival will be held January 24-26, 2003 at Fort Mason in San Francisco.
Photographs available on request.
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Zinfandel Advocates & Producers
PO Box 1487
Rough & Ready, CA 95975