When: January 23-25, 2014
Locations: The “Presidio” & “Four Seasons Hotel” in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Zinfandel fans take note. For many years, one of my favorite annual wine events has been San Francisco’s Zinfandel Festival. But with maturity often comes insight, introspection, and the dreaded “C” word—CHANGE. And so this year, 2014, the classic food and wine spectacular will don a fresh face. Say goodbye to the old Zinfandel "Festival" and hello to the new Zinfandel "Experience".
LOCATION, LOCATION. THE NEW ADDRESS
The setting of a major wine event should certainly be as memorable and inspiring as the wines to be served. Hence, American’s ultimate celebration of all things Zinfandel now has a new format and new locations. Rather than staging the festive tastings within crowded, cavernous, and sometimes chilly, warehouse venues as in previous years, participants will now enjoy the multiple “Experience” events within historic buildings and backdrops of the incomparable Presidio, which overlooks San Francisco Bay, and the venerable Four Seasons Hotel. Thus, granting the recast “Experience” a measure of newfound elegance.
“The new format offers four events over three days that highlight vineyard character, winemaking techniques and historic connections that celebrate Zinfandel’s native taste and value, all nuanced with winemaker personalities and family traditions,” so says Mark Vernon, President of Ridge Vineyards and ZAP President.
THE “GRAND TASTING” TRANSFORMATION
However, I’ve heard that perhaps the biggest change occurs on Saturday to what was formerly known as the “Grand Tasting” (my favorite event) which has now been divided into three unique “tracks” housed in three separate buildings at the Presidio. Get this: Each session will be limited to 350 people—far less than the former Zinfandel Festival. The result is expected to be less crowds, no more long lines to taste, and reduced noise. The new “more intimate” format will allow for more time to visit, make discoveries, and linger at your favorite winery. Overall, I’d say participants can expect a much more enjoyable event. I like the sound of this.
GETTING IN ON IT…
Now here’s the bad news for those procrastinators out there:
Thursday Jan. 23, 2014
Epicuria Food & Zin Parings - SOLD OUT
Presidio Golden Gate Club, San Francisco, CA
Friday Jan. 24, 2014
Flights! Forums of Flavors - SOLD OUT
Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco
Friday Jan. 24, 2014
Winemaker Dinner & Auction - SOLD OUT
Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco
But here’s the good news:
Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014
This Saturday’s Zinfandel Experience “Tasting Tracks” at the Presidio, San Francisco, still has tickets available. Yea! (You better act fast.)
"Create your own itinerary to explore and sample. Select among three distinct and informative tracks that will take you on an in-depth and intimate Zinfandel tasting experience or participate in all three. Zinfandel enthusiasts will have ample opportunity to informally visit and taste with winemakers. Between sessions, visit the gourmet food trucks and enjoy the beautiful lawns and historic sites at the Presidio. You can even take home some of your favorite wines from the new ZAP General Store. Stroll at your own pace or take a complimentary shuttle. Visitors enjoy free parking. Sessions begin at 10:00 AM, 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM. Tickets are limited."
LOCATION: All three Tasting Track programs are held at The Presidio, 50 Moraga Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Track 1: Sensory Tasting
Track 2: Reserve & Barrel Tasting
Track 3: Terroir Tasting
Check it out: http://www.zinfandel.org/default.asp?cid=1&n1=2&n2=1242
Last year you’ll recall I highly recommended this event. I even told many of you to plan ahead. Well, planning ahead sometimes isn’t easy. So get in on this now while you still can and have fun. You’ll taste some inspiring Zinfandel at this event. There is simply no better way to immerse yourself in America’s Heritage wine. Yes, you can quote me on that. Have fun wine lovers!
—Tom Silberkleit, “California Wine Travel Insider”
Publisher of The California Directory of Fine Wineries
"Look for our new ebooks for Kindle, iPad, & all other devices”
ABOUT ZAP - The organization that puts on this annual event.
The Association of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers is a 501(c) (3) non-profit, educational organization. ZAP is dedicated to advancing public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history. Winegrowers, winemakers and wine enthusiasts combine to form the membership. The common focus is the preservation and recognition of Zinfandel as America’s heritage wine. Learn more at http://www.zinfandel.org/.
To learn more about the all new Zinfandel Experience and order tickets, please visit http://www.zinfandel.org/experience or call 530-274-4900.
SONOMA, CA—In November of 2013, our national distributor phoned early in the morning with some exciting news. "Congratulations… Have you checked Amazon this week?"
We were thrilled to learn that The California Directory of Fine Wineries was listed as the "#1 Best Seller" in the catogory of "Santa Barbara California Travel Books.
Our sincere thanks go out to our loyal readers throughout the USA (and beyond) who look to this popular series for winery recommendations and travel guidance.
SANTA ROSA, CA—On Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 “California Wine Travel Insider” Tom Silberkeit was the in-studio guest on KSRO Newstalk 1350. This popular segment called “Wine Wednesday” with Steve Jaxon and Tom Simoneau, is heard throughout Sonoma County and the San Francisco Bay Area.
This segment features Silberkleit telling listeners about The California Directory of Fine Wineries, 6th Edition for Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino.
Acclaimed “Cork Dork” host Adam Montiel grills him medium rare to get the big scoop on Silberkleit’s new line of fully interactive e-books.
Based on the best-selling wine travel series The California Directory of Fine Wineries, the e-books work flawlessly on iPad, Kindle, Android, and all other handheld devices.
AMAZON LINKS TO THE NEW E-BOOKS:
ARROYO GRANDE, CA—I just returned from another wine tasting binge in San Luis Obispo County. It’s nearing the end of harvest time and there was still lots of activity in the vineyards.
One of the thing that makes Talley Vineyards a special place to visit is their park-like tasting room and extensive gift shop. Their wines are very popular, diverse, and provide a well-rounded showcase of what the region does so very well.
Being a total tasting manic I tried EVERYTHING on the list… Yea!
Here’s what I sampled from both their current tasting menus—
Core Flight: $8 per person for their five most popular wines
2012 Bishop’s Peak Chardonnay
Oliver’s Vineyard, Edna Valley ($16/bottle) ($12.80 members)
2011 Talley Vineyards Estate Chardonnay
Arroyo Grande Valley ($27/bottle) ($21.60 members)
2012 Bishop’s Peak Pinot Noir
San Luis Obispo County ($20/bottle) ($16 members)
2011 Talley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir
Arroyo Grande Valley ($36/bottle) ($28.80 members)
2011 Bishop’s Peak Cabernet Sauvignon
Paso Robles ($20/bottle) ($16 members)
Distinctive Flight: $15 per person for five of their distinctive wines
2011 Oliver’s Vineyard Chardonnay ($36/bottle) ($28.80 members)
2011 Rincon Vineyard Chardonnay
Arroyo Grande Valley ($44/bottle) ($35.20 members)
2011 Rosemary’s Vineyard Chardonnay
Arroyo Grande Valley ($48/bottle) ($38.40 members)
2011 Rincon Vineyard Pinot Noir √
Arroyo Grande Valley ($60/bottle) ($48 members)
2011 Rosemary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir √
Arroyo Grande Valley ($70/bottle) ($56.00 members)
"This Pinot Noir will age to velvet."
Lots of nice, well-priced wines on the Core Flight menu… Wine with more complexity can be sampled on their Distinctive Flight menu. My favorites of the day: The two Pinot Noir wines with the √… Of course, wine club members will greatly benefit from the discounted pricing. :-).
The hospitality at this tasting room is excellent. I’ve been there several times and have always found those folks working here to be top-notch.
What do you think about this “growler”?! It’s one of the things that they specialize in these days. A growler is 2 1/2 bottles… I’m coming back to pick up several for my next BBQ party. The initial fill up is $35… Each refill is just $28. Once filled the contents should be enjoyed within 2 weeks. After opening, I’d say finish your wine within 3-5 days for best results.
The Talley Vineyards tasting room is only about 15 minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo. The next time you’re visiting the area be sure to add this lovely spot to your must-see list. Highly recommended!
STEFAN MÜHLE, GENERAL MANAGER, THE CASA MADRONA HOTEL & SPA
REGION: Sausalito, CA
A note from the Publisher: When traveling throughout California Wine Country, I must tell you that I don’t exclusively scout “destination” wineries for The California Directory of Fine Wineries. I also explore and recommend local hotels and resorts—clean and comfortable places at which I would stay myself.
My mission is quite simply to help do the legwork for visitors looking for extraordinary accommodations and memorable tasting rooms. This week’s guest blogger is the historic Casa Madrona Hotel in Marin County, USA. This beautiful property, with spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, has always proved itself to be exceptional. It’s location is ideal for many who wish to split their time between exploring downtown Sausalito, the city of San Francisco, and the renowned wine regions just to the north: Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties.
When I heard the exciting news of the hotel’s dramatic renovation, I invited General Manager Stefan Mühle to share the details with followers of our wine country blog. Thank you Stefan for describing to us what is to come this winter.
Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa Debuts New Mansion,
Hillside Cottages and Event Space For Winter 2013
Sausalito, CA—Nestled hillside in Northern California’s beautiful Sausalito, Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa is announcing the renovation of its historic mansion, upper hillside cottages, and meeting and event space set to debut this winter.
Exemplifying innovation, technology, luxury, service and style, the unveiling will showcase a number of notable highlights including the complete renovation of its historic mansion built in 1885, the restructuring and redesign of the Mansion’s 11 rooms including the new, standout 5,000-square-foot Alexandrite Suite and the 1,700 square-foot Junto meeting and event space, plus the renovation of its seven upper hillside cottages.
Built in 1885 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the former mansion was originally designed as a private residence for William Barrett, Secretary-Treasurer for the San Francisco Gas and Electric Company. The Mansion and its new offerings are currently being updated and perfected by a world-renowned design team, and will be seamlessly paired with leading, cutting-edge technology, the finest amenities, and brilliant views of the Richardson Bay and the San Francisco skyline.
The Mansion & Alexandrite Suite
The Alexandrite Suite includes 3,500 square feet of indoor living space, and 1,500 square feet of outdoor entertaining and relaxation areas all wired with the latest technology.The space is designed to create a strong connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces with an open kitchen and dining room area that connects with an expansive outdoor patio. The gourmet kitchen is fit for a chef with exquisite appliances including a top-of-the-line range, convection oven and cappuccino machine. Ideal for entertaining, the dining room is set against a sparkling backdrop of panoramic bay views.
The Alexandrite Suite includes a master bedroom, a guest suite, and 2.5 bathrooms, plus a private office and personal fitness center. A secret door, leading to the second floor of the Mansion, has been designed to appear as a cabinet in the fitness center but is only noticeable and accessible by those staying in this suite. As a result, the two-bedroom suite can be transformed into an 11-room mansion, perfect for corporate retreats, destination weddings, and multi-generational family getaways.
Junto Event Space
Named Junto after Benjamin Franklin’s diverse cooperative for mutual improvement, Casa Madrona’s new event space is designed to foster innovation, inspiration and collective efforts towards positive outcomes. The 1,700-square-foot boardroom and event space will showcase panoramic views of the bay and features advanced Samsung, Apple, and Control4 technology systems and equipment, including the striking 9-panel media wall, and multi-point video conferencing capabilities.
Upper Hillside Cottages
Located on a pathway near the Mansion are seven upper hillside cottages that have been redesigned with new interiors featuring king beds, spacious rooms, hardwood floors and some with full kitchens and spectacular bay and city views. Similar to the Mansion guestrooms, the decor and color palettes will feature a hybrid of authentic historic touches paired with a clean and contemporary design.
The Mansion at Casa Madrona, Junto event space and the upper hillside cottages will be complete in winter 2013. For more information, please call 415.332.0502 or visit www.casamadrona.com.
NAPA VALLEY, CA—This morning Napa Valley was simply brilliant. The harvest is in full swing and autumn’s tempered sunlight gives the region the slight perception that you’ve walked into a painted canvas.
When in Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon is king. No region in California can do a Cab like Napa. Today’s destination, Pine Ridge Vineyards, is located on a viticulturally charmed stretch of the Silverado Trail in the southern part the valley.
Our readers may have figured out that my entire editorial staff, myself included, has a particular fondness for this tasting room. Pine Ridge has the distinction of owning twelve estate vineyards, totaling two hundred acres, in five of Napa Valley’s celebrated appellations, including forty-seven acres in the coveted Stags Leap District.
The other appellations are Carneros, Howell Mountain, Oakville, and Rutherford. Where many wineries must rely on purchased fruit to build complexity into their Napa Valley-designated Cabernet Sauvignon, Pine Ridge has the luxury of selecting from a broad range of estate vineyards located throughout the valley.
The grounds here are charming. The driveway passes between lawns and picket gardens offering seating with views of the estate’s Stags Leap District vineyard.
MY “APPELLATION TASTING” - October 1, 2013
Cost: $40 - (5 elegant wines) - Tasting Room Associate: Jackie
This was one of my favorite tastings in recent memory. Primarily because everything thrilled me… Here’s what was being offered on their “appellation” tasting menu today:
2011 Le Petit Clos Chardonnay: This is the only 100% true Stags Leap Chardonnay produced. Absolutely delicious. Rich, full body, round palate… Yellow peach, baked golden apple, florals… an elegant finish. Perfect for special occasion. Retail: $65 (wine club $52).
2009 Oakville Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: This is what Napa does best. 96% Cabernet with a touch of Malbec and Merlot. Baked black plum on the nose with a hint of rich blackberry pie. Long and lingering… Oh, man… Now that’s what I’m talking about. Loved it… Retail: $80 (wine club $64.00).
2010 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon: This is 100% Cabernet, baby! An intense ruby-black wine. Ripe black plum, fresh cassis, cracked white pepper… I liked it even better than the Oakville Cabernet mentioned above. Wow! An absolutely enchanting wine. Retail: $90 (wine club $72).
2010 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon: 99% Cabernet with 1% Malbec. I found blackcurrant flavors here. Oh, yeah! Velvety tannins and a graceful finish. Softer to my taste that the above reds — ultra-lush and perfectly pleasing. Retail: $85 (wine club $68).
2009 FORTIS Cabernet Sauvignon: Another 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Intense nose of black mission fig. Aromas of French vanilla. A gorgeous and complex wine. Rich and full-bodied. Loved the smooth and lasting finish. Retail: $150 (wine club $120).
Plus, today they served a BONUS WINE from their “Signature” tasting menu:
2009 Rutherford Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: 75% Cabernet; 13% Malbec; 4% Merlot; 7% Petit Verdot; 1% Cab Franc. This wine had earned 91 points from Robert Parker “The Wine Advocate”. Medium body — simply fantastic!
Of course, tasting menus can change without notice as wines sell out. This current menu was memorable indeed… No visit to this very fine “destination” winery would be complete without checking out their barrel room.
Through a glass wall fitted with transparent doors you can see into this softly lit gallery where wine quietly ages.
To sum it up… I loved everything on today’s Appellation Tasting menu. As listed in our Northern California book, they have various other tasting options… Pine Ridge Vineyards is highly recommended!!!
SANTA ROSA, CA—On Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 from 5-6 p.m. (PST), “California Wine Travel Insider” Tom Silberkeit was the in-studio guest on KSRO Newstalk 1350. This popular segment called “Wine Wednesday” with Steve Jaxon and Tom Simoneau, is heard throughout Sonoma County and the San Francisco Bay Area.
This short clip features Silberkleit telling listeners about a favorite California winery in Sonoma County’s famous Dry Creek Valley: Dutcher Crossing Winery.
SANTA ROSA, CA—Last Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 from 5-6 p.m. (PST), “California Wine Travel Insider” Tom Silberkeit was the in-studio guest on KSRO Newstalk 1350. This popular segment called “Wine Wednesday” with Steve Jaxon and Tom Simoneau, is heard throughout Sonoma County and the San Francisco Bay Area.
This short clip features Silberkleit telling listeners about the upcoming Sunset SAVOR The Central Coast event held at the historic Santa Margarita Ranch, near San Luis Obispo California, from Sept. 26-29, 2013.
Program Synopsis: Originally broadcast on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2013, Grape Encounters radio host David Wilson and “California Wine Travel Insider” Tom Silberkleit talk about trends in winery tasting rooms.
Grape Encounters is a leading wine travel program heard on-line and on radio stations across the USA. Host David Wilson brings a quick wit and lighthearted fun to the world of wine. Tom Silberkleit is the publisher of The California Directory of Fine Wineries book series.
Where to hear the Grape Encounters Program:
KFWB 980 AM, Los Angeles, CA KNWZ 94.3 FM, Palm Springs, CA KNWQ 1140 AM, Palm Springs, CA KNWH 1250 AM, Yucca Valley, CA KNWZ 970 AM, Palm Springs, CA KUHL 1440 AM, Santa Maria, CA WCEM 1240 AM, Cambridge, MD WGNC 1450 AM, Gastonia-Charlotte, NC WFEB 1340 AM, Sylacauga, AL WEMJ 1490 AM, Laconia-Concord, NH KKAL 99.7 FM, San Luis Obispo, CA KGY 1240 AM, Olympia/Seattle, WA KNZR 1560 AM & 97.7 FM, Bakersfield CA KNEW 960 AM, San Francisco, CA, KFQD 750 AM & 103.7 FM, Anchorage, AK.