Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tasting the Gold of El Dorado Wineries at South Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation Event

Madrona Winery gets in the mood
with its Lake Tahoe-themed wine
One of my favorite Tahoe-area summer wine events is the “Taste of Gold,” which benefits the Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation.  Why the name?  Well, it’s all about wines from El Dorado, that California county over there on the South side of Lake Tahoe. The term El Dorado, meaning “the golden one” was coined by Spanish explorers in the mid 1500’s as they sought a city of gold believed to lie in the heart of the Amazon jungle.  To find your “gold” in terms of good wine from the Sierra Foothills, simply attend the event, held each year on campus.  Top wineries from El Dorado County offer many wines to taste.


Jen Tomei pours Boeger Wines
Boeger Winery, Placerville, 2012 Pinot Gris.  It has aromas of honey, peach and green apple. On the palate, I like the hint of spice and the fact that it is light and delicate makes it a great summer wine. Grapes are sourced from Boeger’s own Pinot Grande vineyard.  $15 the bottle.  13.5 percent alcohol.
Tina & Charlie Bruess
pour for Crystal Basin

Crystal Basin Cellars, Camino, 2010 Petite Sirah. A warm black cherry aroma leads to two distinct layers of flavor featuring, on the one hand, blueberries and on the other, soft tannins.    $27 the bottle. 15.8 percent alcohol.

Connie Varvais & friend
pour for Holly's Hill
Holly’s Hill Vineyards, Placerville, 2007 Patriarche.  This is a delicious blend of Rhone wines:  63 percent Mourvedre, 19 percent Syrah, 13 percent Grenache Noir, 5 percent Counoise.  Aroma and taste of strawberries, dark berries and plum with complex spices.  This wine has a nice earthiness, good acidity and smooth tannins.  I love this blend.  $30 the bottle. 14.4 percent alcohol.

Perry Creek Winery, Fair Play, 2011 Zinman Rose.  Aroma of strawberry and hints of flowers, and a taste that come in layers of all the fruits of summer.  This is a light, dry and delightful Rose that is easy to drink. $12 the bottle.14.2 percent alcohol.

Carolyn Silan pours
for Colibri Ridge
Colibri Ridge Winery, Fair Play, 2007 Barbera Fair Play.  Wow, a whopper of a wine at 16.1 percent alcohol but tannin-lovers will find this delicious with berry aroma that leads to a mouthful of lush tasting blackberry, cherry, raspberry and blueberries.   $21.50  the bottle.

Nello Olivo pours his wines for
Sarah Deliniere
 Nello Olivo Winery, Placerville, 2009 Merlot.  Try this wine if you’ve become jaded about Merlot.  It’s quite a bold Merlot, made in the Bordeaux style.  $39.50 the bottle.   13.7 percent alcohol.

Other El Dorado wineries pouring were Lava Cap and Madrona, both located near Placerville.

Lake Tahoe Community College is located in South Lake Tahoe; more at   Attendees enjoyed the event featuring El Dorado wines and the cuisine of Lake Tahoe, held on the Ledbetter Terrace and Demonstration Gardens at the College.

 If you missed this event, I suggest a visit to the tasting rooms of these wineries.  There are dozens of great visits you can make in a day from Lake Tahoe.  Check the El Dorado Wine Association map at

This review appeared in my Wine Time column, The Tahoe Weekly, on August 8, 2013