The many faces of Lodi’s 2011 ZinFest

Markus Bokisch (center) and his team pouring it on...

The only things outnumbering the delicious variety of Zinfandels and other outstanding Lodi grown wines at the 2011 ZinFest Wine Festival this past Saturday, May 14 were the blissed-out faces of the people who came from far and wide to enjoy this classic modern day Delta celebration.

In fact, according to the Lodi News-Sentinel, there were over 6,000 Lodi wine lovers at this year’s ZinFest; up about 47% from last year’s event, which drew about 4,200 zinners. Bokisch Vineyards‘ Markus Bokisch, Lodi’s renowned Spanish grape specialist, was quoted to say that “there were a lot of great questions,” especially “on the region.”

Mr. Bokisch also observed that “the crowd makeup was more and more from out of the area,” citing one wine writer who came all the way from New York just to attend ZinFest. Co-proprietor Liz Bokisch says that “four women from Michigan came to Lodi for the weekend for their third ZinFest in a row,” and what impressed Ms. Bokisch “was that the Michigan visitors came to Lodi and didn’t package it with other California attractions.”

Is the popularity, and prestige, of Lodi wine exploding or what?

Here’s the best part: the Lodi wines were tasting extra rich and juicy this past weekend. Most certainly, Lodi wines are better than ever, but another factor was the unusually chilly 60 to 65 degree weather, heightened by breezes blowing off the surrounding Lodi Lake and Mokelumne River: whenever the water gods seemed to exhale, you could see the shivering revelers buttoning up their spring chic clothing or draping picnic blankets on their shoulders.

Whatever the case, the Lodi wines seemed to come across even smoother… and welcoming. Then again, there is one thing all wine connnoisseurs know: full bodied red wines taste better around 65 degrees — fruit qualities are accentuated, and sensations of alcohol diminished. By contrast, the 90 to 95 degree highs of past ZinFests have been less of an enhancement.

Among the many vinous highlights at this year’s ZinFest:

  • A lush, curvaceous, positively Rubenesque 2008 m2 Artist Series Zinfandel.
  • Also by m2, the gushy, satin laced 2008 ZinFest Commemorative Zinfandel
  • The deep, dark, chiseled, sensualist qualities of the 2009 Fields Family Big Red.
  • The sassier, zestier, teenage-potty mouthed 2008 McCay Equity Zinfandel.

This zinsualist shows you how it's done...

  • A velvet robed, poised and elegantly scaled 2008 Vicarmont Merlot.
  • A soft, strawberryish, woodsmoky 2008 Hybrid Pinot Noir made by Peltier Station.
  • The silky smooth, fruit driven debut of d’Art Winery’s 2009 House of Zin.
  • The bright, buoyant, electrically fruited 2008 Harney Lane Lodi Zinfandel.
  • The unabatingly plush, round, fleshy 2009 Macchia Voluptuous Zinfandel.
  • The star bright, levitating, black cherry fresh 2008 Bokisch Tempranillo.
  • The bold, elegant, chocolate-blueberryish 2008 Mettler Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • The sturdy, zesty, sexily Italianish 2009 St. Amant Barbera.

Oh, but there was more, much more… the aforementioned representing a few that seemed to characterize the many splendored qualities of today’s Lodi grown wines, along with the faces of these true-blue connoisseurs of such:

To world peace and zin!

A welcome sight on a chilly day in May...

Warming up with St. Amant Barbera...

... followed by a warm welcome from the Vicarmont gang.

A papier-mache of Marty, Vicarmont's #1 grape eater...

Fields Family winemaker/partner Ryan Sherman got a ZinFest assist from his dad, Patrick...

... and Peltier Station's Gayla Schatz was in full bloom.

Hanging out by the Michael-David booth...

Speaking of which: we already knew Michael-David's hard working Kevin Phillips can definitely party hearty...

... while M-D prez, David Phillips, simply chills.

Snap Jackson & the Knock on Wood Players warming everybody up...

... and that's lightning fingered Snap on the banjo.

For these wine lovers, today it's just "show me the zin!"

"Honey, I told you not to forget the snugglis..."

Harney Lane's Kyle Lerner, opening with a smile that someday is certain to embarrass his kids...

While m2's Layne Montgomery is already forgetting what he's been talking about...

... as Mokelumne River tour boats pass by Lodi Lake Park

... and this zin lover takes time to meet the natives.

Peirano's Lance Randolph, of course, appeared in his famous red shorts (which he shall not remove until the last grape is picked... in October).

Lodi's Sian Goad with her zin lover-in-training...

Author Debra Ann Ristau was there to sign copies of her book, Lodi on the Label...

Winemaker Shaun MacKay previewing his "Pipedreams" zin at the ZinFest Wine School...

Oh, such Wine School enthusiasm...

Zin lovers-for-life Ed & Caren Rounthwaite came down from Rancho Cordova to partake...

The ZinFest Cooking School bouncers...

These zin lovers hail from Stockton via Portland...

The water girls were not quite as busy as in past ZinFests...

Kelli, Adam & Alyson Mettler manning up with their manly Mettler reds...

Mettler Family Vineyards patriarch Larry Phillip can trace his family's Lodi legacy to the 19th century...

Alyson (winemaker Adam Mettler's wife) knows her way around a corkscrew...

ZinFest Wine School coordinator Dave Sandri with LangeTwins' Charlene Lange talking turkey...

Why is this man smiling? Maybe it's because he (Macchia's Tim Holdener) makes a pretty mean zin...

Tanya McMahan (Macchia's Club Red) is also a real pro..

... and Tanya & Jonathan Holdener are also involved in all things Macchia.

Back at the Wine School, these folks enjoyed zin/cheese matches courtesy of Cheese Central's Cindy della Monica

Between the Wine and the Cooking School tents, a couple of young zinners takes stock...

... while this couple makes their own music.

Joe Spraker, the ZinFest Piano Bar man, also got the zin lovers movin' with the groovin'...

... and making their own (Lodi) river dance.

ZinFest was definitely for the younger...

... the more seasoned,

... and food lovin' Lodi wine lovers.

... also proffered Toby's Homemade Cheesecake from Donna Kelso...

There were couples like Ellen & Chef Ken Landis, there to do demos and take their leisure...

... couples like Kat & Ron Silva (Lodi's leading Portuguese grape growers) there just to take their leisure,

... and couples just there, period.

Then there were all the intreprid, confident women wine lovers...

... many quite seriously focused,

... many not so serious,

... many of beautifully zinful disposition,

... and some, just plain mysterious, or someth'n.

These guys... who knows?

No worries, Lodi's finest were also there, under Lodi Lake Park's magnificent weeping willows.

Finally, word from our sponsor: actually... Mark Chandler, Executive D. of Lodi Winegrape Commission (putting on your yearly beloved ZinFest)...

... and Stuart Spencer (LWGC Program Manager) & Joe Valente (LWGC Chairman)... thx, gents!

... and what the hey, another peek at Sian's baby -- because we love our children, our Lodi Lake and Lodi wines!

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