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WINE COUNTRY PRESS: PASO ROBLES WINE COUNTRY ALLIANCE PRESS

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2006-03-20
Media Contact: Sarah Flickinger
Phone: 805-239-8463 x207
Website: http://

PASO ROBLES ZINFANDEL FESTIVAL GRAND TASTING DOUBLES IN SIZE
14th annual wine event featured four days of events including auctions, Grand Tasting

PASO ROBLES, CA — More than 1,000 Paso Robles Zinfandel enthusiasts gathered with local wine producers at the Paso Robles Events Center Saturday evening, March 18, for the 14th Annual Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival marquee event, more than doubling the attendance from 2005. The event included a live auction from 5 to 7 p.m. and a Grand Tasting with silent auction from 7 to 10 p.m., where 48 area wineries showcased Zinfandels exclusively. The auctions raised more than $66,000, a portion of which will be given to support healthcare, health education and education for vineyard workers and their families. The festival, which included three days of activities at more than 80 wineries throughout Paso Robles Wine Country in addition to the marquee event, was created to recognize Zinfandel, California’s heritage wine grape and the first variety to bring acclaim to the Paso Robles region.

In 2006, more than 1,000 attended the event, up from 500 attendees the previous year. This is the event’s second year at its new location, the Paso Robles Events Center, and organizers are encouraged by the growth of consumer enthusiasm.

"Expanded regional and national promotions along with the larger venue helped us strengthen and grow the event," said Stacie Jacob, Executive Director for the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. "It’s exciting that this event, one of the largest Zinfandel-focused tastings in the country, is right here in Paso Robles."

Growth is attributed to increased consumer awareness as well as a continued growing interest in the Paso Robles American Viticulture Area (AVA). Paso Robles is the third largest and fastest growing wine region in California, with more than 170 bonded wineries and 26,000 vineyard acres.

"We’ve worked very hard to create this event in such a way that it would attract visitors and locals who love Zinfandel wine," said Doug Beckett, 2006 Zinfandel Festival Committee Chair and owner of Peachy Canyon Winery. "I see great success through the number of tickets sold as well as the money raised to support our vineyard working population here in Paso Robles."

Auction lots garnered more than $66,000 during the course of the evening. Top lots included "Fund a Need" direct donations, a dinner for 10 in the caves at Eberle Winery along with 41 bottles of wine—one from each vintage Eberle has produced, and the festival artwork, a 2-foot by 4-foot oil on canvas produced by Nona Haydon. At the opening of the auction, Beckett dedicated the night’s festivities in memory of the late Art Norman, Norman Vineyards winery’s owner who passed away in February. The evening proceeded with high enthusiasm as bidding began. The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival Committee wish to extend many thanks to auctioneer Doug Filipponi for using his expertise to maximize the fundraising for the evening.

A portion of the net proceeds from the Zinfandel Festival will be used to host a series of Mobile Health Days for vineyard workers and their families April 1, 2 and 3, 2006. Another portion will be given to the Paso Robles City Library Foundation to support Spanish-language after school programs.

"The Zinfandel Festival Committee wanted to create a platform for this year and future years, focusing on supporting the people who support our industry," Beckett said. "We are thrilled to see the strong turnout in the auctions and the tasting, and I am proud to be a founder and current chair of the committee."

Beckett’s son Josh Beckett was also a part of this year’s festival, serving as blendmaster for the 2006 commemorative Zinfandel Festival blend. Thirty-four wineries contributed to the blend, which Josh, winemaker for Peachy Canyon, blended and bottled for tasting and purchase during the live auction. The wine will again be up for bid as part of vertical packages during future years of the Zinfandel Festival, held the third weekend in March each year.

The next event slated for Paso Robles Wine Country is the 24th Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival, one of the largest outdoor wine tastings in California, scheduled for Saturday, May 20, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the downtown Paso Robles city park. The event will be surrounded by three days of activities at more than 90 Paso Robles wineries. Tickets and more information about the 2006 Paso Robles Wine Festival are available at pasowine.com or by calling 800-549-WINE (9463).

The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA), represents wineries, growers and businesses in Paso Robles Wine Country. Centrally located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, along California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles Wine Country is California’s fastest growing wine region. It encompasses more than 26,000 vineyard acres and more than 170 wineries.

For more information, visit www.pasowine.com

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