Lodi celebrated local wineries and their number one varietal, Zinfandel, with the 11th annual three-day outdoor affair, ZinFest May 15-17. With an exclusive Vintners Dinner on Friday, the festival’s penultimate event was on Saturday when some 40 regional wineries gathered, pouring over 200 different varietals and blends for a low-key crowd happily swirling and sipping through the warm afternoon. Sunday saw local wineries and bottle shops opening their back rooms and cellars to touring oenophiles, winding down the celebratory weekend.
Zinfandel from Lodi makes up about 40% of the California market, but vintners were excited to share unique varietals, like Touriga and Graciano, Albariño and Verdelho, along with more recognizable European types like Barbera and Moscato.
Tickets for Saturday included a ZinFest wine glass, unlimited tasting, seminars from local chefs and vintners, and entertainment like live music and the Vintner’s Regatta. Four local wineries spent several weeks ahead of the festival crafting “boats” from wine barrels, set to race across the lake; this year several were mired in the sand, requiring a little nudge from the safety boats on hand. Macchia Winery won the regatta for the second year in a row, cleverly designing their boat as a streamlined fluorescent banana. An adults-only event, organizers were smart to station free water and hunks of bread at several points in the park, complementing the vendors cooking up everything from pulled pork nachos to coctel de camaron to paella.