Zinfandel is considered by most to be the "national wine grape of California." It was one of the first grapes planted by immigrant winemakers in the nineteenth century, and many Zinfandel vines from that era still exist today. "Old vine Zin" is, in fact, a phrase that is nothing short of beloved in certain wine circles. How fitting to have a celebration of that grape in one of the places where it grows best, Paso Robles.
The weekend of March 19 - 21 will offer Zin lovers the opportunity to wallow in it - an entire weekend devoted to the Zinfandel grape and the astounding wines that are produced from it. The Zin Tasting on Saturday will feature the Zinfandel and Zin blend wines of over 50 wineries from the Paso Robles area, along with cuisine from some of the area's finest restaurants. The Wine Country Auction, according to the website, supports " the vineyard worker population who play a major role in bringing the spirit of Zinfandel alive. A portion of the funds raised will be donated to health, education and greater community programs for the local vineyard workers and their families."
There are also scores of events at individual wineries in the Paso Robles area, giving you ample opportunity to discover the treasures of the AVA.
One of the highlights of the annual event is the release of the Collaborative Zinfandel Blend. Each year a Zinfandel Festival Blend Master is selected, and it is that person's responsibility to create a Zinfandel Blend from the finest Zins available in Paso. The 2010 Blend Master is Mike Giubbini of Rotta Winery. His special blend will be available for purchase at the Wine Country Auction, as will verticals from previous years.
Tickets to the Zin Tasting and Wine Country Auction are priced at $60 and $85. Individual winery events are separate.
The Central Coast AVA of Paso Robles offers warm days, cool nights and lots of hang time, elements crucial to the proper cultivation of Zinfandel. There's plenty of exploring to be done over the course of this event, with over 180 wineries in the AVA from which to choose, so be sure to plan some time to visit a few great Paso Robles wineries.