Being a member of the Society of Wine Educators definitely has its benefits. One of the perks is getting invited to some very fun wine events.
This past week I was fortunate enough to attend a Zinfandel Master Class as well as a Zinfandel tasting in Orlando at the Renaissance Sea World Hotel. The Association of Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) sponsored the event. ZAP was founded over 20 years ago when a small group of passionate wine pioneers and some Zinfandel loving consumers came together because they believed that Zinfandel deserved recognition as a highly respected varietal that could compete with the finest wines around the world. Today hundreds of producers and thousands of advocates are proud members of ZAP.
The Master Class was wonderful. Three wine professionals from well-respected Zinfandel producers led us through the history of the varietal, as well as through their represented region and a blind tasting of various Zins from those regions.
First up was Doug Becket, owner of Peachy Canyon Winery in the Paso Robles AVA. Doug’s easygoing personality and wealth of knowledge led us through the fascinating history of his winery and the interesting geography of the Paso Robles AVA.
Next up was Carol Shelton, Owner and Winemaker of Carol Shelton Wines. This highly awarded winemaker expounded on some of the AVAs in Sonoma County, explaining differences in their terriors, which results in the different tastes of Zinfandel.
The final speaker of the day was John Kane, the Winemaker for Rosenblum Cellars, one of the “big daddy wineries” in the Zin world. Kane manages all of the aspects of wine production for Rosenblum, from the vineyard to operations, and is the winemaker for 62 wines each year! His presentation focused largely on the Contra Costa County AVA, which lies within the larger Central Coast AVA.
Following the Master Class we were invited to dine with the speakers. What great fun it was to drink their wines with lunch while hearing stories about that particular vintage and their struggles and triumphs in making the perfect wine!
Following lunch was a tasting of Zinfandel from 16 different producers. My favorites truly did include the above wineries, along with Wine Guerrilla from the Sonoma Valley (Owner/WInemaker Bruce Patch is not only a fine winemaker, but also a very fun and personable guy) and Proulx Wines from Paso Robles.