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The 2012 ZinFest Commemorative Zinfandel is an essence of Lodi »



Each year the Lodi ZinFest produces about a 1,000 bottles of a Commemorative Lodi grown Zinfandel under a colorful Belle Époque inspired art label by our official ZinFest artist, Vince McIndoe, always featuring the same mysterious “red headed girl.”

The mysterious red haired ZinFest girl

The mysterious red haired ZinFest girl

This year’s special bottling was produced by Michael McCay, whose McCay Cellars Zinfandels, in recent years, have received great critical acclaim for their pure, expressive renderings of Lodi grown fruit. In his book The New California Wine, for instance, Jon Bonné (San Francisco Chronicle’s former Wine Editor) described McCay’s Zinfandels as such:

If big and brawny is Lodi’s hallmark, McCay sprinted in the opposite direction, making Zinfandels that dial back oak and heighten fresh flavor… McCay often describes his efforts as Old World in style; I’d say they are a clear-eyed interpretation of Lodi’s great soils… (his) Zinfandels often have an innate freshness… and bright flavors that evoke Lodi’s earlier style of the grape.

For these reasons, the McCay-crafted 2012 ZinFest Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel ($35) may be just about the most “Lodi” of Lodi Zinfandels you’ll ever experience. Connoisseurs would describe it as terroir driven: pungent with lush, plummy, cherry-bright fruit underscored by earthy nuances suggesting loam, mushrooms, a bit of wild thyme and touches of licorice root. There is also a smidgen of sweet French oak in the picture, but only as a narrow frame that only enhances the wine’s prettiness; manifested in round yet zesty, layered flavors that finish dry with firm tannin, the cherry-bright sensations lingering with the loamy earth tones.

Mr. McCay himself tells us, “I wanted to put together a wine that’s a little fun for me – something I don’t normally do, a little deeper, darker than my normal style. This is not the fruity, sweet style of Zinfandel often associated with Lodi. It’s a lot dryer, but nice and layered – something that could be considered an essence of Lodi’s Mokelumne River region.”

McCay’s “normal” style, in fact, is to emphasize the taste of Zinfandels grown in individual vineyards. For the ZinFest bottling, he blended Zinfandel picked from his Trulux Vineyard (about 91%) – which traditionally produces his deepest, earthiest style of Zinfandel – with the more red berry/cherry perfumed fruit of his Lot 13 (100-year-old east side vines) and Jupiter lots (85-year-old plant east side planting). To achieve the tiny bit of a tannin punch tasted in the finish, McCay also blended about 3% Petite Sirah from his home vineyard on Lodi’s east side.

ZinFest attendees will be able to taste this special bottling at the McCay Cellars table, and then purchase it at the ZinFest Wine Shoppe on their way out.

Be sure to visit zinfest.com to get your ZinFest tickets now!


McCay Cellars' Michael McCay

McCay Cellars’ Michael McCay



Historic Vineyard Society tasting of Lodi’s rarest wines headlines 2015 ZinFest Wine School »

ZinFest Wine School

ZinFest Wine School


Everybody loves a luscious Zinfandel, Lodi’s signature wine, but Lodi ZinFest has always been about a lot more than Zinfandel. It’s been about all the fascinating wines – from light and refreshing white and pink wines, to a joyful variety of savory reds – grown in this, the most widely planted American Viticultural Area in the U.S.

Historic Vineyard Society's Tegan Passalacqua

Historic Vineyard Society’s Tegan Passalacqua

And the ZinFest Wine School is where you go to learn about this from some of the most respected wine educators and winemakers in the industry. Each of our four Wine School seminars starts at the top of the hour, starting at 1:00 PM.

This year ZinFesters will find the giant Wine School tent plopped down in the very middle of the festival grounds, with open seating for anyone interested. Walking and tasting can get a little tiring, so this centralized location will be a great spot to sit down and relax, while taking in a seminar or two. And guaranteed, learning more about Lodi wines only enhances your appreciation of them.

Also new this year, American Sign Language Interpreters will also be on hand to help.

2015’s ZinFest Wine School starts off with two terrific “Everything-You-Wanted-to-Know” classes on wine tasting, led by two amazing instructors – Fred Swan CS and Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis – from the prestigious San Francisco Wine School (where Bay Area wine professionals, such as sommeliers, go to learn their stuff).

Our third seminar, starting at 3:00 PM, will be presented by Tegan Passalacqua, who is an acclaimed winemaker/grower and founder of California’s Historic Vineyard Society. Novice wine lovers and hopeless wine geeks alike will enjoy this guided taste-tour of five wines from five of Lodi’s oldest (average age, over 110 years!), most revered vineyards.

Our final seminar – starting at 4:00 PM and led by resident Lodi wine journalist Randy Caparoso – will be on. By “alternative,” we generally mean lighter, dryer, less oaky, more fruit focused, and made from lesser known grapes such as Piquepoul and Torrontés. What’s not to like?

The line-up:

1:00-1:40 PM:  Fred Swan CS – Introduction to Wine Tasting
Fred Swan, an instructor at San Francisco Wine School and widely followed author of NorCalwine.com, will present “everything you wanted to know about wine tasting” for novices and seasoned wine lovers alike. The Lodi grown wines he will be presenting:
• 2014 Borra Vineyards, Clements Hills-Lodi Vermentino
• 2013 Michael David, Lodi Chardonnay
• 2014 McCay, Lodi White Zinfandel
• 2013 McCay, Faith Lodi Zinfandel
• 2010 Vinedos Aurora, Clements Hills-Lodi Petite Sirah


Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis

Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis


2:00-2:40 PM:  Catherine Fallis MS – The Art of Blind Tasting
Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis of PlanetGrape.com returns to ZinFest to give a fascinating demonstration on the fine art of “blind” tasting. Of course, we are not telling you exactly which outstanding Lodi wines she will be tasting you on (it’s “blind” tasting, after all), but both curious newbies and longtime wine connoisseurs will enjoy discovering how the pros do it!

3:00-3:40 PM:  Tegan Passalacqua – Taste of Lodi’s Historic Vineyards
Historic Vineyard Society is dedicated to the preservation of the most prestigious pre-1960s vineyards here in Lodi and elsewhere in California. HVS founder Tegan Passalacqua, who is also winemaker at Turley Wine Cellars and winemaker/owner of Sandlands Wines, will take you on an incredible taste-tour of some of Lodi’s oldest and finest single-vineyard bottlings:
• 2013 Turley Wine Cellars, Bechthold Vineyard Lodi Cinsault
• 2013 Klinker Brick, Rauser Vineyard Lodi Carignane
• 2012 m2, Soucie Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel
• 2013 Ironstone, Rous Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel
• 2013 St. Amant, Marian’s Vineyard Lodi Zinfandel

4:00-4:40 PM:  Randy Caparoso – Lodi’s New Alternative White Wines
Randy Caparoso is a Lodi resident who writes the lodiwine.com blogs and is also Editor-at-Large for nationally read The SOMM Journal/Tasting Panel Magazine; and there is nothing Mr. Caparoso likes better than totally unique “alternative” wines. You’ll love tasting this exciting line-up of new Lodi whites with him:
• 2014 Acquiesce, Lodi Picpoul Blanc
• 2013 Six Hands, Lodi Chenin Blanc
• 2014 Bokisch, Clay Station Vineyard Borden Ranch- Lodi Verdejo
• 2014 markus, Joey Insieme Lodi (Torrontés)
• 2014 markus, Nativo Lodi (Kerner/Riesling/Bacchus)


Enjoying ZinFest Wine School

Enjoying ZinFest Wine School