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Project Zin goes above and beyond

For the fourth year in a row, Clay Mauritson and Charlie Palmer raised thousands of dollars for the Down Syndrome Association North Bay (DSANB) at the Annual Project Zin event, held this year on August 16th. Clay Mauritson, Winemaker at Mauritson Wines, and Charlie Palmer of Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, have been teaming up since 2010 to bring people together at the spectacular Project Zin event to raise money for a great cause.

Project Zin goes above and beyond with local cuisine and complex Zinfandel.
Melissa Vogt
Project Zin
Melissa Vogt

This is a one of a kind event in which all proceeds from the ticket sales, paddle raise, and silent auction go to the DSANB. This organization provides an array of services for parents of children with Down syndrome and as Mauritson said to guests during the paddle raise, "you being here tonight funds so many amazing programs," such as activities, parties, groups, special events, and camps for the children. By hosting this event, Mauritson and Palmer are not only helping to raise awareness, but also helping the organization reach their goal of "$1,000,000 for therapies that benefit individuals with Down syndrome and their families" (DSANB).

"Over the last three years, we have raised one hundred and fifty thousand dollars at Project Zin," Mauritson stated during the paddle raise. This unprecedented fundraising, year after year, has allowed the DSANB to expand their programs and provide more services for families in the North Bay—furthering their mission to "promote self-advocacy, raise awareness, support inclusion and enrich the lives of individuals with Down syndrome and their families" (DSANB).

The event, which is held each year at the stunning Hotel Healdsburg, pours the best Zinfandel and serves exquisite local cuisine for guests to enjoy throughout the night. Guests leisurely explored the silent auction table and bid on large format wine bottles, fantastic travel getaways, relaxing spa packages, winery experiences and events, sporting event tickets, reserve bottles of wine, wine and food pairing experiences, and more. Towards the latter half of the night, Mauritson and Palmer engaged the crowd in a live paddle raise in which guests were given the opportunity to donate money directly to the DSANB.

The fabulous Hotel Healdsburg utilized both indoor and outdoor space for this event. Guests were able to meander on the lawn, stroll through lounges, or relax in comfortable chairs while enjoying the tasty local cuisine and the wide variety of fantastic Zinfandel from local vintners. Music played in the background and as the night went on, the glow of twinkle lights created a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Each year, twenty-one wineries pour their best Zinfandel to be paired with delicately prepared cuisine from top Sonoma County chefs. This year, eleven restaurants participated in the event. With dishes like Dry Creek Kitchen's tender Painted Hills beef, topped with Zinfandel au jus and served alongside a smoked baked potato mousseline and caramelized onion biscuit, guests experienced a wide variety of innovative and delicious dishes. This particular dish was perfectly suited for Zinfandel with its Zinfandel au jus, and boasted a delicate balance between rich flavors and contrasting textures.

Of course, this event would not be complete without tasting the Rockpile Zinfandel from Mauritson Wines. The 2012 Pritchett Peaks Vineyard Zinfandel from the Rockpile appellation shows raspberry fruit with balanced acid, tannin, and alcohol. The oak is subtle, but noticeable, and integrates well with the medium body of the wine. On the finish, the palate experiences the sensation and taste of cocoa powder. This delightful Zinfandel is an excellent choice for enjoying on its own or pairing with a number of the dishes served at the event, such as the Painted Hills beef and creamy polenta from Catelli's, Palace Café's beef tartare with onions and caviar, and the Jim Town Store's Zinfandel beef tacos with jalapeño and tomato.

Notable wineries, such as Robert Biale Vineyards, Seghesio Family Vineyards, Carlisle Winery & Vineyards, and Sbragia Family Vineyards all poured the very best Zinfandel form their collections. The 2012 Aldo's Vineyard from Robert Biale Vineyards in Napa Valley shows great pepper on the palate with dark raspberry fruit that isn't overripe in flavor. The 2011 Home Ranch Vineyard from Seghesio Family Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley is full of bright raspberry fruit with subtle oak and a touch of chocolate on the finish. Carlisle Winery & Vineyards, located in Dry Creek Valley, poured a lovely 2012 vintage from the Carlisle Vineyard that shows red cherry and raspberry fruit on the front of the palate with a touch of spice; the wine finishes with darker blackberry fruit and a round mouthfeel. The 2012 Gino's Vineyard from Sbragia Family Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley is a Zinfandel that's not afraid to be oaked. This powerful wine expresses bold oak and vanilla on the palate, a full body, and strong tannins. The fruit is dark and rich—blackberry pie lingers intensely on the tongue.

From the alluring atmosphere to the fantastic food, wonderful wine, and the great cause that each guest was there to support, the evening was surely a night that all will remember fondly. To learn more about the Down Syndrome Association North Bay and how to support this wonderful organization, visit their website for more information. To experience and taste more from Mauritson Wines, check out the tasting and touring options available at the winery and vineyards. To enjoy more innovative cuisine from Dry Creek Kitchen, make a reservation at the restaurant, located on the Healdsburg Plaza.

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