Zinfandel fanatics are preparing to make their yearly pilgrimage to San Francisco Jan. 18 to 20 to taste through countless bottles of zinfandel as the 2016 vintage rolls onto the market.

And so it begins … another year of zin-pandemonium.

Organizers of ZinEx (formerly known as the ZAP Tasting) are expecting nearly 2,000 people to swoop in from all over the country – including New York, Texas and Washington State — for their string of events. The highlight of the weekend, expected to draw 1,200 people, is the Grand Tasting Jan. 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1098 The Embarcadero. Tickets for all the events range in price from $45 to $250 at www.zinfandelexperience.com.

For the zin-crazed who can’t make the holy trek, the Net will improvise. #Zinfandel Live will play to the masses with posts from lifestyle bloggers, radio personalities and citizen journalists.

Organizers say they are embracing millennials with some net-savvy tricks because there’s a growing trend of this population showing up on ZinEX’s doorstep.

While there’s an uptick of Millennials, the bulk of the general audience represents Gen X’ers, with most of the VIP community Baby Boomers, according to Robert X Trent of ZinEx.

Cathy Dangler of Tahoe City is a zin recidivist of sorts. Dangler, who quipped “I’m young at heart,” won’t reveal her age but said she frequents the event and this will be her seventh tasting. The zin-lover said her goal is to taste between 40 and 50 zins at the Grand Tasting.

“I enjoy the berry flavors of zinfandel along with the jammy characteristics and the strong aromas,” she said. “I prefer the ones with less alcohol content and enjoy the strong tannins and slightly spicy flavors of zin.”

The event will showcase the 2016 vintage, the first in four years where the drought hasn’t affected the flavor profile of the wine, according to Erik Miller of Healdsburg’s Kokomo.

“We saw average rainfall and had more of an average crop size,” said Miller, who will pour his wines at the tasting. “It was one of the earliest vintages on record, which allowed for full ripeness, without extreme heat during harvest.”

Zinfandel, which originated in Croatia, is a varietal that America was enthusiastic to adopt. It was introduced to California in the 1850s during the Gold Rush.

“Zinfandel is a prototypical immigrant success story,” according to Bill Nachbaur of Healdsburg’s Acorn Winery. “It’s an obscure grape that got no respect in Europe, came to the US in the 1820s, changed its name when it arrived, and found some success as a table grape on Long Island and in Massachusetts before hitching a ride with a Massachusetts sea captain to California, where it quickly became California’s most widely planted wine grape.”

Nachbaur, who also will be pouring at the tasting, said, despite zinfandels roots in Croatia, “it’s still California’s own grape because California is where it gained recognition and where it continues to make great wine.”


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