A foggy morning gave way to a beautiful, sunny afternoon for the first annual Simply Summer Celebration, hosted on Saturday, August 16th, by Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP). For its first year, attendees would agree that the event was highly successful. Over four hundred guests attended and more than fifty wineries poured their best Zinfandel in the setting of the iconic Lytton Springs Vineyard at Ridge Vineyards. This specific vineyard site is well known for growing classic Dry Creek Zinfandel grapes and couldn't be any more appropriate for an event put on by ZAP. With wineries from local regions like Sonoma and Napa, as well as wineries from further regions such as the Sierra Foothills, Lodi, and Paso Robles—there was surely a style of Zinfandel to please every palate.
As guests entered the shaded tasting lounge in the middle of Lytton Spring Vineyards, ZAP was pouring their Heritage Zinfandel, which is produced each year by a different winemaker. The Heritage Zinfandel grapes are grown at the UC Davis Oakville Research Station in Napa Valley and ZAP has been collaborating with UC Davis to "provide superior Zinfandel selections to growers as the basis for future plantings" (ZAP). The Zinfandel Heritage Vineyard Project, as ZAP calls it, "is an unprecedented collection of rare and famous Zinfandel vine cuttings grown throughout California" (ZAP). By annually allowing one winemaker to produce wine from the grapes grown in these vineyards, ZAP is able to give their Zinfandel producers the ability to work with amazing fruit and turn it into high quality, limited production Zinfandel. The ZAP Heritage Zinfandel is only offered through ZAP and poured at ZAP events, making this Zinfandel a rare treat to taste.
The 2012 ZAP Heritage Zinfandel—made this year by Chris Leamy, Winemaker at Terra d'Oro Winery and Montevina Winery in the Sierra Foothills—possesses lovely strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry fruit—both on the nose and on the palate. The twelve months in 50% neutral and 50% two year old French oak gives this Zinfandel a silky texture and medium body, which was just perfect for sipping in the warm weather. The acid and tannins are both well balanced and the finish is long and beautiful. One could not ask for anything more from a Zinfandel produced by an organization dedicated to promoting this wonderfully complex varietal.
From Sonoma County, notable Zinfandel producers such as Ridge Vineyards, Pedroncelli Winery, Kokomo Winery, Sbragia Family Vineyards, Novy Family Wines, and Dutcher Crossing Winery, were in attendance. Proulx Wines from Paso Robles stood out amongst the other wineries from their region at the event, as did Chase Cellars from Napa. m2 Wines represented the Lodi region very well and of course, from the sierra Foothills, Terra d'Oro Winery and Montevina Winery led the way.