Friday, August 31, 2012

Sierra Foothills Wineries support many Charitable Events

The Third annual Wine on the Water charity event at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe dedicates all proceeds to the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe. Kristi Synder, the exceptional sommelier at the Hyatt’s Lone Eagle Grille, puts her many contacts in the wine world to good use as the 30 wineries pouring at this event are all stellar. 
One of the wineries -- a repeat contributor -- is Twisted Oak, located in Calaveras County, Sierra Foothills.  Jeff Stai, winemaker and owner,  participates in many charity events.
At this Wine on the Water event, Jeff was pouring a new blend he calls “Potty Mouth.”  A nice blend of Mouvedre, Syrah and Grenache, it’s flavorful and popular.  Only 1000 cases made.  14.2 percent alcohol.  $18 the bottle.

Sierra Foothills/Amador County Veraison-Harvest Reports and Water Notes: Andis Wines (Plymouth)

Mark McKenna, Winemaker & General Manager at Andis Wines, Plymouth, Amador County, writes:

“The vineyards look incredible this year.  Despite the early August heat, the vines are in great health. 

Verasion is moving along at a good pace, most red varietals are 70% - 90% through and whites are beginning to sugar up.  We began taking sugar samples on Sauvignon Blanc 10 days ago and found a couple of blocks over 20 Brix. 

The only real challenge we see at this point is that some fields have a very heavy crop and will require dropping some fruit to get the desired quality.  We are very excited to get going and will most likely start picking this first week of September. 

WATER NOTES:  We have had no issues with water.  If anything, we feel the late Spring rains have served the vines well and carried us through Summer. "


("The photo shows a young Grenache vineyard we will be picking for the first time this year!")

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sierra Foothills/Amador County Veraison Reports and Water Notes: 9 Gables (Plymouth)

Jerry Notestine of Nine GablesVineyard and Winery, Plymouth (Amador County) writes:

No matter how long you have been growing grapes or making wine, you can still be surprised by each season as it develops.  And this season sure points that out.

 I thought the last two years were unique with the wet springs.  Year before last we had so much water we could not get in to spray for weeds prior to bud break.  We stuck two tractors trying. Then when it was dry enough for us to enter we had too much vine growth to spray herbicides.  We chose instead to have crews to come in and hoe the weeds.  Well, that was a waste of money, for the ground was still moist enough that after we spent a lot of money for hoeing the weeds they germinated again! 

This year after bud break we had unseasonal rains risking powdery mildew and bunch rot.  Then the heat was unbelievable.  In 75 years in California  I have very seldom seen the heat that we had this year. 

Just for curiosity I checked sugars on August 19 and my whites are almost ready to pick! In 25 years of growing grapes I have never seen that early of a harvest here in Amador County.

Like a good farmer friend of mine has always said, just about the time you think you have figured Mother Nature out, she takes you to the wood shed.   Sure keeps life interesting. 

Also as a winemaker the grapes look absolutely great.  The vines threw too big of a crop so we had crews dropping some of the fruit to enhance the remainder.  We are looking at a possibly great year for some of the best fruit we have seen.  We will let you know if it turns out as good as it looks.

WATER NOTES:  Here in Shenandoah Valley of Amador County we are fortunate to have a pretty good supply of water.  We also have good water retention inour soil and can dry farm.  We did not water our mature vines  until about a week or two ago and still have not watered some of our older vineyards.  We have some older Mission grape vines which have never seen irrigation since planting (Estimated over 100 years old)  Veraison started about two weeks ago and are either complete are near complete depending on variety.  Also a first for me in 25 years.
A bit of history about the Old Pieroni Ranch of Amador County:
Nine Gables Vineyard and Winery is located on what was once the Old Pieroni Ranch. Antonio & Ester Pieroni immigrated to America in April, 1905 and settled in Amador County. In 1911, Mr. Pieroni and his partners Emilio D'Agostini and Guisepe Guiltieri purchased property which became the D'Agostini Winery. Mr. Pieroni sold his share of the D'Agostini property and subsequently purchased the 120 acre ranch property in the Shenandoah Valley. Mr. Pieroni worked in Plymouth in the Alleghany mine (which ceased operations shortly after World War II). The family lived in Plymouth and commuted to the ranch to get the house ready.
County records indicate the old farm house, which is still standing west of Nine Gables, was built in 1857. The original builder is unknown. Some time after occupying the house, the Pieroni's planted vineyards and walnut trees. The vineyards consisted mostly of Zinfandel and Mission grapes. The Pieroni Winery was constructed across the driveway from the Pieroni ranch house. The crushing and primary fermentation were completed on the first floor and the wine was stored in the basement below. The Pieroni Winery ceased operations sometime before the Second World War.
Over the years, the Old Pieroni Ranch was split into many parcels. The first floor of the Pieroni Winery is now a cabin, the old ranch house has been remodeled several times and many of the walnut trees were removed to plant more grapes. The Mission grapes originally planted in the early 1900's are still growing around the Nine Gables Vineyard and Winery house and tasting room.
For more information, see

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sierra Foothills/Butte County Veraison Report: LaRocca Vineyards (Forest Ranch)

Philip LaRocca of LaRocca Vineyards, Forest Ranch, Butte County, sends these notes:  
"We plant Chardonnay at the West Side of the Sutter Buttes (which is the smallest mountain range in the world).   Right now our Chardonnay is at full veraison. 
Sutter Buttes at Sunset
WATER AND OTHER NOTES, Sutter Buttes:  "We are doing our last irrigation and we are planning to start picking the first week in September.  We are very concerned regarding labor.  We're being told there's a shortage.  As for water at this vineyard, we are on a deep well and we flood irrigate. Haven't had any water issues. 
Beautiful Mt Lassen
We plant Pinot Noir in the Forest Ranch Vineyard at 2600 feet at the base of Mt. Lassen on Doe Mill Ridge.  Our Pinot Noir is at 70% veraison.  Both Chard and Pinot look very good both in terms of quality and crop load. 

We are seeing early some color in our Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. We have 56 acres of Cabernet so that's our biggest crush and also comes in last.   
WATER NOTE:  We have several wells in Forest Ranch and do drip irrigation, it's slow and steady for the water.   OTHER NOTE: Again, labor is a huge concern this season."


Monday, August 27, 2012

Sierra Foothills/El Dorado County Veraison Report: Baiocchi Wines (Fair Play)

Greg Baiocchi of Baiocchi Wines, Fair Play,  El Dorado County,  writes:   "Vintners have an internal clock that’s starts ticking at fruit set. This typically happens mid May for our vineyard. That tick, tick, tick turns into an alarm bell at véraison, typically August 1st for our vineyard.

The Tempranillo graces us with beautiful color and reminds me, crush is just weeks away. Currently we have been dropping fruit in the vineyard, taking shoulders off the Tempranillo, thinning the almighty Grenache and hedging the vines, preparing them for netting soon to come.

The fruit is incredible this year! Small berries with very regular set, long loose Syrah clusters and smaller than average Grenache clusters. I am very optimistic about the quality for 2012 in our vineyard.

Overall, the growing season this year seems to be very typical for the Sierra Foothills. This recent heat wave of 95+ degree weather for two weeks straight has put some stress on our Syrah vines.
I am most excited about the quality of our Grenache. All in all things look great and I am expecting harvest to begin with Syrah around mid September."

By the way, Greg has informed his fans of progress in the vineyard very well!   Other wineries might want to take a look at his excellent blog:, which is well written and lively!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sierra Foothills/Calaveras County Veraison Report and Water Notes: Ironstone (Murphys)

Joan Kautz, Vice President- International Operations, Kautz Family Vineyards/Ironstone, sends these notes about veraison and harvest expectations from Murphys (Sierra Foothills/Calaveras County):

Cabernet Sauvignon veraison
in Ironstone's Murphy's vineyards
"In regard to the harvest this year, Steve Millier, Ironstone's Director of Winemaking, predicts we will begin harvesting around September 20th with our Verdelho, which will be about the same time as last year.  Last year was a lighter crop and a more difficult year, whereas this year appears to be very good to excellent across the board. The quality of the fruit is fantastic with small berries and very even and uniform clusters throughout all of our varieties.

We have a very adequate supply of water in Murphys (Calaveras County) for our vineyards.  We do irrigate and we started watering in early spring in anticipation of our needs, so there is no water stress on the vines.

Right now, we are very happy with how Mother Nature is treating us and hope that this continues through harvest.

We begin harvesting in some of our Lodi vineyards this Monday, so it is currently the calm before the storm :) "

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sierra Vintners Pop the Cork in Nevada City Tasting

An interesting aspect of attending a multi-winery event in the Sierra Foothills nearby is that you get a sense of not only the currently-poured vintages, but also what the future is likely to present.  Talking to the wineries at the Nevada City Uncorked event recently, it looks like 2012 will be a good vintage.  Grapes are now well past veraison (when grapes turn from green to red) and the heat days are good.  Frost was not a problem this year, although water is.  Water is a problem in all agricultural products this year, but many Nevada and Placer County wineries have access to irrigation water.  It’s not cheap, but it’s available.  Cost of wines may be rising, but they should be good.

Jacques Mercier of Solune
From a sampling of wares from several wineries, my rave review goes to Solune Winegrowers of Grass Valley, whose Titan XIII, a Zinfandel/Syrah blend is simply scrumptious.  Winemaker Jacques Mercier teased wonderful flavors out of these grapes, resulting in a wine with refreshing berry taste of the Zinfandel and an earthiness from the Syrah.  It is smooth, with a full rich mouthfeel and a lingering finish.  A perfect wine for anything from the grill!   14.3 per cent alcohol.  $18 at the winery.   While you are there, taste the 2009 Verdelho, vinified from a zesty Portuguese grape that is summer-perfect.
Lynn Wilson, Pilot Peak

Pilot Peak Winery’s Paramour, a medium-bodied Rhone blend, is another yummy red.  This combination of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvédre and Petite Sirah is nicely intense and a bit spicy, and coats your mouth with light, toasty blackberry and dark cherry flavors. At 14.5 per cent alcohol, it is $24 at the Penn Valley winery.   Winemaker/co-owner Lynn Wilson also poured a 2010 Viognier that was medium-bodied with the essence of pears, citrus and ripe melons and just perfect on a hot summer day in a Nevada City picnic-like setting.   14.3 per cent alcohol, $22 at the winery.

Bob Hilsman of Double Oak
Double Oak Vineyards & Winery, Nevada City, grows grapes on acreage near Nevada City that owners Bob and Ginny Hilsman started clearing in 1980.  Bob started as a family winemaker producing just a few barrels for friends-and-family consumption, went on to take courses at UC Davis, and in 2001 built a state of the art winery.   His best seller, the 2011 Chardonnay, is terrific.  Golden in color, smooth and well-balanced, it has a wonderful mouthfeel.  Flavors are pear, burnt toast, light citrus.  14.5 per cent alcohol.  A real deal at $12 the bottle.
Indian Springs Tasting Room,
located in Nevada City
Clavey Tasting Room,
located in Nevada City

This event, presented by the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Vintners group, also showcased the following wineries:  Avanguardia, Bent Metal, Clavey, Coufos, Indian Springs, Lucchesi, Montoliva, Nevada City Winery, Sierra Knolls, Smith, and Szabo Winery.   Head over anytime to Nevada and Placer counties for some good artisanal wines!

Good Times at Sierra Vintners pre-harvest BBQ

Gatherings of the clan are sometimes filled with tall tales, intra-family negotiations, and undercurrents of unresolved tensions.  It's what makes big wine tasting events so much fun; beyond the opportunity to taste lots of interesting wines, there is opportunity to fill a reporter's notebook with plot lines for a reality TV show.

Let me report that this was NOT the case at the pre-harvest get together of Sierra Vintners, a group of 15 wineries that grow grapes and make wines in the Nevada County and lower Placer County parts of the Sierra Foothills.  It's just all good times!

On the plaza at Sierra Starr Vineyards
Phil Starr of Sierra Starr Vineyards hosted the event.  Seventy winery owners, winemakers, and family members showed up, and a few of the members of the press who cover this region consistently.  I fall into the following category, as one of the firm advocates of Sierra Foothills wines and wineries, and I write about them frequently in my Wine Time column in the Tahoe Weekly magazine.  So I got an invite and hauled my Tahoe Weekly editor along to meet the clan.

Rob Chrisman of Avanguardia was the genius on the grill, and there are some pretty good cooks who made salads and appetizers too.   Whoever you are, may I have the baked bean recipe?   Outstanding!

Everyone brought wine.  This was so much better (for me) than going to a tasting where I have to tromp from store to store or winery to winery.   It was all there, and so I tasted (and, reluctantly, spit) my way through 25 wines.   Here are some of my new favorites:

Bent Metal Chardonnay

Henry Coufos and Janet Wheeling
Smith Chardonnay

Fawnridge Viognier

Coufos Rhone Blend

Lucchesi Merlot

When I started getting red splotches on my notebook, I stopped writing and just enjoyed the jokes, camaraderie, slaps on the shoulder, and tried not to trip over the winery dog. 

This is a great group of wine folks, producing wines with taste, texture, heart and happiness.  If you are not familiar with the wines of Nevada County and lower Placer County, click over to the Sierra Vintners website, map out a route and go.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sierra Foothills/Nevada County Veraison Report and Water Notes: Montoliva/Chicago Park & Sierra Starr/Grass Valley

Mark L. Henry of Montoliva Vineyard & Winery, Chicago Park, CA., writes:

“ Ripening is more spotty than I would have thought it would be. Bloom tends to come later at 2,300' elevation than most other areas of Northern California, and the June 4th thunderstorm (with some hail mixed in) may have thrown my Sangiovese and Aglianico off its game. Lots of green fruit mixed in with the ripening fruit. 

Starting this weekend I will go through and drop perhaps a third to a half of the fruit that hasn't turned. Right now I'm anticipating harvest at the end of September...which, while later than most of the rest of the state, is still better than the Halloween harvest we had last year.”

ABOUT WATER: “Here in Nevada County we are pretty far up-stream, so no real issue with water availability. Here at Montoliva Vineyard & Winery we use drip irrigation.”

Phil Starr of Sierra Starr Winery and Starr Vineyards, Grass Valley, Nevada County, reports:

Sierra Starr vineyards Aug 2012
in late afternoon sun
”We have veraison in all our varieties. Crop looks extremely good at this point. Forecasted weather is perfect for finishing off this crop. Harvest dates look about normal. Was expecting early but believe the crop is large enough to counter early spring.”


“Chicago Park was originally settled by first generation Italian Americans that immigrated here from Chicago, Illinois.  Chicago Park and the vineyards therein bear witness to their desire to create a community in the unsettled west that in many ways reflected their homeland. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sierra Foothills/Yuba Veraison Report & Water Notes: Lucero Winery, Dobbins

Dan and Marian Lucero, owners of Lucero Winery in the Northern part of Yuba County, write as follows: 
“We have just a small vineyard (4 acres) and a boutique winery on the premises.  Our crop has just turned color over the last two weeks.  We usually don't pick our varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot) until the end of September, or the first part of October.  Since it has been so hot, we figure harvest time will be the end of September. 
Our vineyard is set up on a timed drip system.  Fortunately, we have not had a water problem as we have a natural spring with a deep well.  And also fortunately, we haven't heard that anyone else is having a water problem in our area. 
Our crop looks much heavier this year than in previous years, probably because we did not have any frost or freeze.”

A bit about Lucero Winery:  Lucero Vineyards & Winery is owned by Dan and Marian Lucero on family owned property dating back to 1906 that’s located in Dobbins, California, 72 miles northeast of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  Years prior to the vineyards being planted, the Lucero family ran cattle and farmed these gentle slopes amongst the Ponderosa Pine trees.  Then they looked for other uses of their land.

After his retirement as a teacher, Dan & Marian decided to start a vineyard. They and their children took many viniculture classes at U.C. Davis and with the help of their four daughters and their families, they hand planted the first vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay rootstock in 1993. The Merlot vineyard followed in 1997; it was hand planted with potted bench grafts.

These estate vineyards produce small crops of intensely flavored grapes. The combination of warm days, cool nights and rich red clay soil contributes to Lucero wines’ deep color, elegant flavors and full-bodied nature.

Ther emphasis is on growing and making limited production, ultra premium wines.

Never heard of Dobbins?  Well, here’s the fascinating Sierra historical scoop, courtesy of quick Internet research:  Dobbins (formerly, Dobbin, Dobbins Ranche, Dobbins Ranch, and Dobbin's Ranche) is an unincorporated community in Yuba County, California. It lies 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Marysville, at an elevation of 1742 feet, in the foothills of the western Sierra Nevada Mountain Range off of Highway 20 and Marysville Road. Dobbins is north of Oregon House and south of Bullards Bar Dam. Dobbins has one post office, one general store, 2 churches, a grange hall, one grade school, one charter school, and Lake Francis Resort. The town was settled in 1849, and named for William M. and Mark D. Dobbins, early settlers. The first post office was established in 1851 under the name Dobbins Ranche; it closed in 1854. The post office returned in 1887 and has operated continuously since. A mining camp, Kentucky Ranch,was located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the southwest.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sierra Foothills/Amador Veraison Report & Water Notes: Karly Wines, Plymouth

Lawrence L “Buck” Cobb, president of Karly Wines, Plymouth, Amador County writes:  “After a late start and cool spring and early summer, the weather has been perfect, even with the recent week-long 100 degree-spell – it  set the taste in Zinfandel!  We are on track to start harvest at the normal time after Labor Day."

” We dry farm, so who cares about water? Labor supply, now there is something to worry about.”

Buck Cobb
Buck adds this P.S.:   "Incidentally, we just sold Karly winery to Turley Wine Cellars of St Helena. Karly and I are very happy to lay down the load and live a little after thirty-two years. This is a gain for Amador County.”   

Lava Cap Pairs Wine and Events at their Placerville Winery

All in a day’s trip from Lake Tahoe, Placerville’s Lava Cap Winery offers the chance to taste incredible wines and participate in events like white water rafting, painting and sipping in the vineyard, sunset concerts, cooking classes, Wine 101 seminars, Harvest 101 seminars, and more.

Aimee Rebmann guides us
Barbara "paints"

I enjoyed the Lava Cap "Sip Wine & Paint" Event a few weeks ago. I was guided through painting a vineyard scene by Aimee Rebmann. “No experience needed to create an amazing painting--all while you sip your favorite Lava Cap wines!” The event lived up to the promise. The next event is August 25.

Lava Cap is one of my favorite Sierra Foothill wineries. Their Barbera is one of my few “! AHA !” wines. It is typical of the varietal but oh so good. At $25 a bottle (less for wine club members), it’s a spectacular find. But beyond the good wine, Lava Cap has made a point of helping wine lovers enjoy a tasting experience. Get on their newsletter list! Upcoming events include:

Wine & Sunsets. Every Saturday, August 18 through September 29, 2012, 4-7pm . Sip Lava Cap wine, watch the beautiful sunset views from their deck and garden area, and enjoy live music until dusk.

Red Wine, Whitewater Adventures This is a two-day red wine and white water adventure. Rafting the South Fork of the American River and visiting Lava Cap for wine tastings. Now finished for 2012, but sure to resume in 2013!

Lava Cap Winery began in 1981. The Jones family purchased an old 64-acre pear farm after a year-long state-wide search for premium vineyard land. David Jones, a professional geologist at USGS and later UC Berkeley, knew the critical role that soil plays with premium wines. This land has volcanic soil of modest depth, gentle sloping terrain with numerous microclimates, a high elevation providing moderate temperatures for even ripening, and an abundance of pure mountain water. The residual “lava cap” topography eroded from the volcanic activity in the Sierra Nevada millions of years ago.

Tom Jones, winemaker
Lava Cap Winery has always been a family affair, and sons Tom and Charlie and their wives and now children are all involved. The first varietals planted were Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, then Charlie assumed the role of vineyard manager and added Petite Sirah, Barbera, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Tom got his MA in Enology & Viticulture at UC Davis, and is a talented winemakers.

The Lava Cap style is one of elegant, textured-driven wines. The wines continue to win awards, including recent accolades for the Syrah 2009, Barbera 2009, and Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.

Visit Lava Cap Winery at 2221 Fruitridge Rd, Placerville. The tasting room is open 11 to 5 daily. For maps, directions and to register for events or buy wines online, go to

Tastes from the 2012 Barbera Festival

The 2012 Barbera Festival, held in early June at Cooper Ranch in the Shenandoah Valley near Plymouth, CA, brought 1,700 wine aficionados together to taste Barbera from more than 80 wineries from Camarillo north to Kelseyville, with the majority of participants coming from the Sierra Foothills and Lodi. This second annual Festival was sold out three months early!

Barbera is a lesser-known, and often overlooked, varietal of wine grape. The Barbera grape was first imported into California in 1884, and was used by the Italian Swiss Colony winery in its table wines. The first Barbera varietal (a wine with the name of the dominant grape on the label) was brought to market in 1954 by Louis Martini. Today in California, some 7,000 acres are planted in Barbera, and nearly 200 wineries make at least one style of the varietal.

Barbera originated in the Piemonte region of northern Italy. On the nose, Barbera is typically lush and juicy, with aromas of black fruits. Depending on the terroir and the winemaker, Barbera vintages can convey bright flavors of raspberry, spice, and tart cherry, or more supple notes of black cherry, blueberry, and vanilla.

Urban Legend "trio"
Marilee Shaffer, co-owner of Oakland’s Urban Legend Cellars noted that Barbera is a “Cinderella” of a grape that has been in large part relegated to use as a blending grape. But when treated property, she said, “Barbera can really become the Belle of the Ball.” Urban Legend presented a trio of Barbera, including a refreshing 2010 Rosatto and 2009 red from Holland Landing vineyard, and a 2009 Amador Barbera. The 2009 Amador Barbera is bright cherry and cassis on the nose, dark cherry and cola on the palate. 15.2 percent alcohol. $26.

The 2010 Boa Vista Reserve Barbera, from Oakstone Winery in Fair Play delivered a surprisingly Zinfandel-like punch of black pepper, following plum and blackberry aromas. 14.7 percent alcohol. $28.

Sherri Compton pours
Easton Wines. Plymouth
(Amador County)
Plymouth-based Easton Wines plured a 2005-2007 vertical from the same four rows of Cooper Ranch fruit. The older vintage tasted plump and jammy, while the younger two were bright and full of spice. The Easton 2007 Shenandoah Valley Barbera is rich, balanced and juicy, with a pleasing spiciness. 14.5 percent alcohol. $24.

The 2009 and 2009 Barbera from Lodi’s D’art winery is made from grapes grown by Leland Noma . Both vintages exhibit related-but-not-identical flavor characteristics. The D’art 2010 Lodi Barbera has bright cherry, earth and berry-like flavors, with a long finish. 15.4 percent alcohol. $24.

Other photos from the event:

Crystal Basin Winery, Placerville
(El Dorado County)- Jack Wohler pours

Margie Runquist of Jeff Runquist Winery,
Plymouth (Amador County)

Michael Havill of Bella Grace,
Plymouth (Amador County)

Tom & Thomas Dillian,
Dillian Wines (Amador County)

Peter Nowack
Barbara’s fellow blogger, Peter Nowack, is today’s guest columnist. He is the wine lover behind the wine blog, and is founding partner of northern-California based WEmarketwine.

Taste of Gold from El Dorado Wineries

I’d heard in the past about the wonderful Gourmet Food and Wine Tasting fundraiser for Lake Tahoe Community College, but I can now say with assurance: put the Taste of Gold event on your calendar for next year. Held on campus in South Lake Tahoe, this event featured 10 El Dorado/Sierra Foothill wineries and 8 wonderful restaurants who prepared tastes that paired well with the wines.

Laurie Dishman of
Mount Aukum Winery
Mount Aukum winery served its 2007 Apogee. This is an El Dorado Rhone varietals blend of 40% syrah, 30% petite syrah, 20% cabernet franc, and 10% merlot. Blends are becoming more popular in all categories and regions of wine, and winemaker Michel Prodhon has recently been “Club Apogee” giving blending seminars for the trade and for consumers. This wine is the outcome of such a seminar and is a robust red with plum flavor predominating. Truly yummy. 14.8 per cent alcohol, $30/bottle.

Jim Brown of
Sierra Oaks Esates
SIerra Oaks makes its 2006 Petite Sirah in a Burgundian style. This Petite has a unique and interesting floral nose. I enjoyed the licorice flavor, which is a nice complement to this rich fruity Petite. It has a nice roundness in the mid palate, giving the impression of sweetness. The finish is smooth. 13.6 per cent alcohol, $21/bottle.

Connie Varvais and her husband,
Holly's Hill Vineyards
Holly’s Hill Vineyards served a refreshing 2011 Viognier, perfect for a summer evening. Despite the difficulty in pronouncing this varietal (vee-ohn-yay), it is a delightful Rhone grape that in this instance brought to mind a fruit-cocktail flavor. “Imagine a bowl of peaches, pears and grapes all tossed with a lilac and lavender dressing,” said tasting room manager Connie Varvais. This wine is crisp, not sugary, and nicely mouth-filling. 13.6 per cent alcohol, $20/bottle.

Nello Olivo of
Nello Olivo Winery
Nello Olivo Winery poured a 2007 Toscanello, one of many Italian wines in which they specialize. This red blend is 60% sangiovese, 20% cabernet, and 20% merlot. Marco Cappelli is the well-known winemaker. A full bodied wine with aromas of dark cherry, blueberry, cigar box & eucalyptus, it has a long and friendly finish that features a variety of acidity levels and a good tannic structure. If you can resist drinking it right away, it will age well for 6 to 10 years. 14.5 per cent alcohol, $50/bottle.

Other El Dorado wineries pouring were Colibri Ridge Winery, Crystal Basin Cellars, Grace Patriot Wines, Lava Cap, Madroña Vineyards, and Perry Creek Winery. It’s a great and easy day trip from Tahoe to taste the wonderful wines of El Dorado county.
Lava Cap
Crystal Basin

All proceeds from this event benefit Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation, which supports scholarships and College programs. Find out more at www.ltcc-edu/foundation and get on the notification list for next year’s event!