Sunday, October 30, 2011

El Dorado Wineries and Big Band Jazz: Charity Event at Lake Tahoe

The autumn colors at Sugar Pine Point State park are spectacular right now, so don’t be shy: go. Pack a picnic, take a bottle of wine and some of those great plastic wine glasses, a blanket, and enjoy. If you need some wine suggestions, look for some of the wines noted below. They were contributed to a tasting event in late August, when the park featured a night of Big Band Jazz and wines from a number of El Dorado wineries. If you can’t find those wines in your nearby wine shop, remember that El Dorado wineries are a mere daytrip away from Tahoe in the Sierra Foothills.

Lava Cap, located near Placerville, contributed a 2009 Reserve Chardonnay. This lovely rich and creamy chardonnay has aroma of toasty oak, apple and vanilla. The velvet mouth feel comes from Burgundy aging techniques and barrel fermentation in separate lots which were then blended. Winemaker Tom Jones handcrafts this wine. It’s won several awards. 14.9 per cent alcohol, $18 bottle.

The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Boeger Winery, near Placerville, is an estate wine produced from grapes in their own vineyards. It is a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with a lingering finish and yet is delicate on the palate. Aroma of grapefruit, peach and nectarine. 14.5 per cent alcohol. $14 bottle.

Latcham’s El Dorado Gold Rush White is a nicely blended table wine that hails from their winery in the Fair Play/Mt Aukum area of El Dorado County. This is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Blanc that has both a refreshing crisp fruit flavor and a hint of sweetness. $12.50 bottle.

Jazz Band at Twilight, Lake Tahoe
shoreline at Sugar Pine Point State Park 

Holly’s Hill 2009 Patriarche Blanc is a blend of 50% Roussane, 25% Grenache, and 25% Viognier. “A beautiful floral perfume of orange zest with lemon/lime and melon. In the mouth the wine has a great viscous mouthfeel with a long finish,” notes the winemaker. Holly’s Hill Winery, located just south of Placerville at 2700 feet elevation in the Pleasant Valley region, is a small family winery that produces only Rhone varietals. $25 bottle.

Mount Aukum Winery, located in Somerset, contributed its Petite Syrah 2007 Fair Play. With grapes grown in its own 2615-foot elevation vineyards as well as grapes sourced from other vineyards nearby, winemaker Michel Prod’hon is a great fan of Rhone varietals. This Petite Syrah has aroma of vanilla and exotic spices. “This wine is rich and bold with flavors of blackberry, pepper, and hint of toasted nuts. Drink it now with a hearty meal, or lay it down for several years and let the tannins soften,” says the winemaker’s notes It has won many gold medals, including one in the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle winetasting. 15.5 per cent alcohol, $35 bottle.

Perry Creek, located in the Fair Play AVA of El Dorado county, contributed its 2008 Zinfandel, the Zinman. “ZINMAN is one of Perry Creek’s most recognized and highly successful signature series wines. It is rated among the top 15 best-value Zinfandels by Wine Spectator in 2010 and its popularity continues to grow year by year. What makes it so special is the unique combination of spice and elegance in its flavors which stems from being produced in one of the best vineyards in the El Dorado County AVA,” notes the website. 14.9 per cent alcohol, $14 bottle. More information at

These civic-minded wineries contributed other wines from their production; all were outstanding Sierra Foothill wines. The Big Band event was a fundraiser to benefit the West Shore Association. In addition to the wineries, other contributors to this event were the California State Parks, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, and the Tahoe City Public Utilities District.

copyright 2011 Barbara Keck

Barbara writes the Wine Adventures column about the wine business for The Tahoe Weekly newspaper.   She is currently gathering information for iphone app on  Sierra Foothills Wineries, to be available in late Spring 2012 through the Sutro World offerings on itunes/Apple app store.

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