Saturday I attended the Lodi Zinfest for the first time with my gal pal J, along with hundreds of other thirsty thrill seekers. It was a pleasant drive and a beautiful day. I tasted (and dumped) several new labels (new to me, but not new to the winemaking world), and tried some better than average (for a festival) fare. Saw one of the state fair wine judges there and said my hellos. :)
She was giving everyone a mini-loaf of Cottage Bakery ciabatta. I call this "damage control sustenance" for anyone who was there to drink (guzzle).
Met a winemaker by the name of Layne Montgomery. He is the owner of M2 Vintners. You can find several of his wines in Sacramento area wine shops and restaurants. I brought back a bottle of their Old Vine Zinfandel for Garrett and I to taste and review during our podcast taping next week.
Some of my other favorite winemakers of the day included Van Ruiten (I will particularly point out their Old Vine Zinfandel for its subtlety! Very mild and approachable to someone who might not normally like the boldness of a zinfandel), Stama, and Mettler. I did taste some white wines upon our arrival, and one prior to leaving, but for the most part I tried the zins all day long.
The food worked on a (kind of lame) ticket basis. An average event attendee paid $25 admission, and then was charged extra for any food they wanted to eat. I do want to point out though, that the food was reasonably priced.
Since I had access to the VIP tent, there was no way that J & I would go hungry, but we wanted to try foods from the different vendors and support them for being there. The most interesting thing we tried was a fruit cup with lemon and chile powder from Las Tapatias of Stockton. The cup contained slices of pineapple, melon, cucumber, and mango and was doused liberally with lemon juice and sprinkled with chile powder. It was delicious and paired wonderfully with some of the crisp white wines we tried when we first arrived. The fruit and the wine were also a welcome treat to ward off the heat and any annoyance from the very thick crowd. :)
Then it was onto the Wine and Roses booth... most recently (in)famous for being the former home of Top Chef 2 contestant Michael Midgely.
Wine & Roses (not to be confused with Guns & Roses... "Sweet Child O Mine" plays in my head everytime I hear the W & R restaurant name) sold their Waldorf Salad and Vegetarian Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Bread. The sandwiches were a great vegetarian option, packed with marinated eggplant, portobella mushrooms, and roasted red pepper.
A taco platter from Black Tie Gourmet. Delicious, fresh corn tortillas.
Charm N Candy Bouquet sold their "Wine Fudge". A few fudge varieties were merlot and white zinfandel. I think they also had a cab flavor as well. I tried the merlot fudge, and in theory it is a good concept. However, I did not really care for it. What I did not like about it was that instead of a varietal or even any kind of wine flavor, I tasted a lot of... well, heat/alcohol...
Chef Robert Ray of the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco prepared Seared Salmon with Butter Beans, Pancetta, and Balsamic Reduction during a cooking and wine pairing demonstration.
We ended our Lodi visit to the tunes of the Smithereens. They took the stage from 5-7pm, and several people were spotted shimmying like they hadn't since the high school prom. One man even thought he was an airplane. Well, you know how the song goes... "Red red wine, you make me feel so fine, you keep me rockin' all of da time..."
If you missed the Zinfest, there are plenty of other events coming up this summer at the individual wineries. Do take note that some of the wineries do not have tasting rooms, but plenty of them do (if you have already been to Napa, Amador and El Dorado, get in the car and drive down for the afternoon!).