Napa on the Block: Behind the scenes at Premiere Napa Valley
Post by Chuck Hayward | March 1st, 2012
This past weekend saw the wineries of the Napa Valley host their annual Premiere Auction Weekend. This was the 16th edition of the Napa Valley Vintners Association’s second most important event. The Napa Valley Wine Auction held each summer in support of local charities is more well known and geared toward raising funds from consumers. For the wine trade, Premiere Napa Valley is where it’s at. Here, auctions of unfinished wines are directed to bidders in the retail and restaurant industry, with proceeds destined for the region’s marketing and education efforts. Consumers cannot bid on these lots.
The auction represents the culmination of a week-long series of events in the valley, including a wine writers’ symposium, educational tastings, as well as the traditional parties which form the foundation of any gathering of the wine industry. It brings to mind en primeur week in Bordeaux with familiar crowds of journalists and buyers from across the globe traipsing from winery to winery attending tastings and parties.
Tim Mondavi (l) and Stuart Harrison (c) of Continuum with Joshua Greene (r), Editor of Wine & Spirits
Adding a Little ‘Zip’ to ZAP: Improved venue breathes new life into annual zin event
Post by Chuck Hayward | February 2nd, 2012
The last weekend of January always manages to banish the mid-winter blues with its promise of three highly anticipated annual events: the impending Super Bowl, the release of Silver Oak’s Napa cabernet, and the annual ZAP tasting in San Francisco. No matter what one thinks of the grape, the red wine confab is truly one of the great wine events held in the United States. Populist in approach with its sprinkling of thought-provoking seminars to placate budding wine geeks, the annual tribute to California’s heritage grape attracts a happy crowd of consumers and industry folks alike, and not surprisingly, very few sommeliers.
The Bucklin Winery Trio
As much as ZAP has been a model of consistency from year to year, 2012 brought about a big change as its venue transitioned from the familiar confines of Fort Mason to the far more spacious San Francisco Concourse in San Francisco’s South of Market district. The event certainly benefited from the change, as the new digs seemed to infuse everyone with renewed energy. Incredibly, all the wineries were housed under one roof and with plenty of room to spare. The carpeted floors helped to keep the noise down, especially the cheers that inevitably follow the occasional broken glass. Most importantly, there was plenty of room to maneuver about and tables were noticeably less cramped. (more…)
In the wine industry, controversies come and controversies go, but one that seems to have stuck around a while revolves around zinfandel. And there’s no better place to dredge up the old debate than at the annual ZAP Grand Tasting held each January in San Francisco. This year marked the event’s 20th anniversary, and the question of what zinfandel is and what it should be gained even more traction than in years past.
The debate on zinfandel was probably best encapsulated by the SF Chronicle’s Jon Bonné’s Thirst column. Rather than go over it in detail, there are a few observations I think bear relevance. For one, it is very easy to project your ideas and philosophies onto a grape like zinfandel. It has a populist appeal which speaks to a broader segment of the market and grates the grits of those who take wine more seriously. Yet when one starts to dig deeper and learn about the old zin vineyards that populate California’s North Coast region, complaints arise that the prices are too high and that it drives away everyday drinkers.
ZAP: Is this the line for Turley?
There can be no doubt that the “zin-fanatics” are a unique bunch of wine enthusiasts and they can certainly rile those who take their wine more seriously, including many who are in the industry. Thing is, those are often the same people who complain that we need more consumers at wine events. Apparently, the 8-10,000 zin fans lining up at Fort Mason don’t count because they are “that type” of consumer. (more…)