Friday, August 24, 2012

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.

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