Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ZinFest shows off the best of Lodi

Over 6,000 wine lovers attended the Lodi ZinFest held at Lodi Lake on May 14, tasting through wines offered by 43 Lodi winemakers.  This year’s ZinFest attracted a record breaking number of attendees from around the state and around the country.  The cool weather saw more jackets and fewer shorts than normal for this time of the year, but the visitors’ warmth for Lodi wines kept smiles on their faces.   In fact, this reporter felt that the cooler 60-65 degree weather made the full-bodied, rich Lodi reds especially tasty this year. 

As if tasting a wide selection of white and red wines was not enough, eleven local restaurants were serving plenty of delicious food, including paella, burritas, lamb tacos, pulled-port sandwiches, kabobs, gyros and more.  The weather even helped preserve the chocolate covered strawberries from melting in your hand.

The ZinFest Cooking School tent was packed with foodies looking forward to that special tip from one of the northern California chefs offering lessons all day long.  If cooking was not your thing, then you could join the crowd at the ZinFest Wine School tent next door.  There you could learn more about the wide range of wines available in this unique wine region, including Portuguese and Spanish varietals.  

If you needed to take a break from the wine tasting and food events, you could always site down for a few at the Piano Bar and listen to Joe Spraker while sipping on wine by the glass.  The Main Stage featured David Lunning’s sounds of folk/Americana, The World Record and the Bump City Tower of Power Tribute Band.

The winemakers of Lodi really showed the best at ZinFest.  Some examples are:
M2 Wines
  • 2008 ‘Artist Series’ Zinfandel – Made from three different vineyards in Lodi delivers some great fruit, acid and tannins with a well-balanced structure
  • 2009 Tempranillo – Delicious ripe fruit with strawberry and raspberry, long warm finish
Harmony Wynelands
  • 2009 Chardonnay – crisp acidity balances the aromas and flavors of pineapple and green apple
  • Zinsation Dessert Wine – dark red jammy fruit with touch of caramel
Peltier Station
  • 2006 Petite Sirah – earthiness, pepper, smoke, oak, coffee and cocoa, all you are looking for in a Petite Sirah
Fields Family Winery – this winery is only a year old
  • 2009 Big Red – nice dark multilayered fruit balanced with crisp acid and round tannins
  • 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel – jammy black cherry, blackberry, soft textures, smoke and spice
Bokisch Vineyards
  • 2007 Graciano – a fantastic wine with inky color and abundant aromas and flavors of toast, blackberry, cedar, sage, figs and earthiness, delivering complexity and a balance from beginning to end
Lodi is only 1-2 hours away from most of the Bay Area and is home to a growing number of family run boutique wineries producing high quality wine for a very reasonable price.  Many of the winemakers here are descended from a long line of local farmers, loving their wine and nurturing their fruit into full rich wines.

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