Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Truckee River Winery - the Highest and Coldest Winery in California

The wine, the fireplace and the good appetizers are three good reasons to stop into the cozy tasting room at the Truckee River Winery on Brockway Road, Truckee. Allow time to chat with winemaker Russ Jones, and make sure that you taste his Pinot Noir. It’s a perfect way to end a ski weekend!

Russ Jones, Winemaker

After Russ earned his B.S. in Oenology UC Davis’ famous winemaking program , he worked at a few wineries and returned to his hometown of Truckee. His vision was to source quality grapes, and then bring fruit to Truckee to take advantage of the high elevation and cold temperatures, naturally cooling the fermentation and slowing down the barrel aging process. “Thus we became the highest and coldest winery in California,” Russ said. “Our focus from the beginning has been to produce handcrafted wines with great structure and finesse.”

At the Tasting Room you can taste and buy these and other wines:

2009 Garys' Vineyard Pinot Noir. Just released, the grapes for this wine comes from the eponymous vineyard in Santa Lucia Highlands. The flavor is of dark berries, cassis, briar and black tea. There’s a nice mid pallet structure, and medium tannins. 15 percent alcohol. $45/bottle

The 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, just received a Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle competition. This is an ultra velvet, ultra smooth, and complex wine. 13 percent alcohol. $55/bottle.

2011 White Barn Pinot Gris. A great affordable white wine that is crisp, clean, and with a hint of pear and apple. Grapes are sourced from the Apple Hill area of El Dorado County, Sierra Foothills. 13.4 percent alcohol. $14/bottle.

2009 Red Barn Red-Red Table Wine. A blend of Merlot and Zinfandel, the result is a very drinkable wine that goes well with many dishes. 12.8 percent alcohol. $16/bottle.

The 2009 Chicago Park Merlot is vinified from grapes grown in the Bear River vineyard in Chicago Park, Nevada County, Sierra Foothills. The grapes from this 3200-foot high vineyard results in wine with a concentrated flavor, a very berry taste and great structure. 13.2 percent alcohol. $18/bottle.

The Red Barn Red Apres Dessert Wine is a blend of several traditional port varietals. Tawny, rich and sweet, it goes well with chocolate and strong cheese. A perfect after-dinner wine! 18.5 percent alcohol. $18/bottle.

The Truckee River Tasting room is located at 11467 Brockway Road, Truckee CA 96161. 530-587-4626. Open 12:00p-7:00p every day

Sparkles & Wine: Bluestone Wine is Truckee Specialst in Sierra Foothill Wines

Lynette Astors, right, pours
Sierra Foothill wines for customers
There are two things that pair well with women and also with men: fine jewelry and fine wine. That’s why I like the concept that Lynette Astors is helping to nurture at Bluestone Jewelry and Wine in downtown Truckee. I’ve known Lynette for many years, and seen her grow in wine knowledge by attending tastings and functions at L'uva Bella Wine Gallery in Reno and helping Rombauer Vineyards grow in recognition by pouring at many of their Tahoe area events. Now she is adding her own sparkle to the wine shop in the back of the Bluestone’s Truckee store, They are becoming local specialists in wines from the Tahoe basin, namely Sierra Foothill wineries.

I decided to sample the Sierra Foothill ports from a variety of wineries, and looked over some nice jewelry pieces at the same time. The ambience of this 1850’s building with exposed brick and reclaimed barnwood floors is conducive to a relaxed afternoon of browsing and tasting. Many locals know this lovely location from its previous incarnation, as “OB's” building.

Narrow Gate Vineyards, located in Placerville, features its Lot '10 Chocolate Splash, El Dorado County, at the store. This Port is made from six classic port varietals and is infused with 1.25% bittersweet, natural chocolate essence . Hold up the glass and you’ll notice the jewel-tones that characterize this and other ports. Chocolate Splash is winery owner Frank Hildebrand's "special blend". 18 percent alcohol. $32/bottle (500 ml).

Grant Eddie’s winery, located in Oregon House, Yuba County, is one of the few California vineyards to establish plantings of a range of grapes from the Douro region of Portugal. Bluestone features the tasty Grant Eddie 2010 Port, which is blended from five different varieties of grapes grown in the Ramey Mountain Vineyard. The blend includes the traditional Douro grapes Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Madeira, and Sousao, and a touch of Syrah. 19 percent alcohol, $31/bottle.

The Mount Aukum Winery, Somerset, El Dorado County, features its port-style wine, 2008 vintage Ace of Hearts, at Bluestone. This delicate port style wine is really tasty, and is a blend of Tempranillo, Touriga, Tinto Cao, and Souzao grapes. If you are not thinking about blueberries already, you will when you taste this wine. 18.2 percent alcohol. $29/ bottle.

There are many other wines to sample at Bluestone Jewelry and Wine, located at 10046 Donner Pass Road, Ste. 3, Truckee. Hours: everyday 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. 530-582-0429.

Popular Northstar Village Wine Bar serves Sierra Foothill Wines

Alice Baldwin pours Easton wine for tasting
If you are not going to Northstar, I suggest you make the trip to enjoy Petra anyway. This is a wine tasting room, restaurant, and retail wine shop all in one, opened under the tutelage of Kali Kopley, proprietor of 3 other good wine shops: “Uncorked” Tahoe City, Squaw and Truckee. She knows what she is doing in her wine selection and pricing.

The “Taste Three” program is a wonderful way to experience the diversity of Petra’s wine offerings. For $12 you enjoy 2 ounces of 3 wines.

 In the red wine group, the choice was hard to make. When in doubt, I will always choose a Sierra Foothills wine. The 2010 Zinfandel from Easton, Amador County, a Beaujolais-style wine, is a winner. It has bright cherry and blackberry fruit aromas, and a beautiful balance with a great juicy mouthfeel. This Zin has a nice creamy texture from ten months in French oak barrels, and a toastiness and spiciness that is complex and scrumptious. 14.5 percent alcohol. $9/glass, $18/bottle. Learn more about Easton wines at the website .

For foods to pair, Petra’s many shareable plates are great. Try the crispy broccolini, the risotto cakes, and any of the pressed sandwiches. The charcuterie and cheese choices are fabulous too. If you like sweets, go for the dark chocolate pecan caramel tort: heavenly.
Dine on the Patio, summer or winter

Petra's beautiful indoor space