Ron Florian has two decades of experience in the mountains, and he knows how to parse all of the seasons here with just the right wine.
Ron worked for more than a quarter century as a manager at Safeway; he opened the Truckee store in 1991 and listened to customers trying to find the “right” wine in the grocery environment. So when he retired ten years ago, he knew about the unmet needs for a wine store with knowledgeable staff, “a place you can find wines you’d have at a fine local restaurant,” he said. The rest is history, and that’s the short story of Florian’s Fine Wines & Specialty Foods on Donner Pass Road in Truckee.
When you walk into his shop, you’ll be greeted with hundreds of fine wines to choose from, many of which you won’t find anywhere else in the Lake Tahoe area.
“We look for small unique wineries to feature, or larger wineries that have unique wines in their portfolio,” Ron said. For example, he carries the Geysers Peak block series, artisanal wines from Sonoma which are selectively allocated and hard to find.
Ron Florian’s wine selections will take you beautifully through all the Tahoe seasons. Perhaps an ice wine for summer? A zin to go with barbeque? A syrah instead of a pinot for the autumn? A reisling or gewurtz for Thanksgiving? Sparkling wines for January? He has it all.
Drop in any Friday from 4 to 6 for tastings. For a small charge, you can taste a variety of wines, and you are sure to find one you like. I sampled these:
Tangley Oaks 2006 Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, Lot 3. Buttery, almond, with nutmeg on the side palate. 14.2% alcohol. This is a drinkable wine perfect for summer. Pull it off the shelf, put it in the refrigerator and it’s ready to serve in 15 minutes. $14.99/bottle.
Sobon Estates 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel, Amador County. Tones of blackberry, smoky, not too much pepper. 14.9% alcohol. 100% organic: it’s got barbeque written all over it. $ 15.99/bottle.
My favorite of the tasting was a sweet dessert wine, absolutely perfect to finish a meal: Arger Martucci, Dulcinea, 2002 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. This is a wonderful blend of 66% Sauvignon Blanc and 34% Semillon. A hint of peaches, a touch of tropical fruit, and a taste of nutmeg. Only a few barrels were produced. 15.4% alcohol. $49.99 for a 375 ml/bottle, but well worth it! Florian personally knows this winemaker, who is a surgeon from Reno, and Kosta Arger is justifiably proud of the products of his boutique family winery. Their vineyards, planted on gentle hillsides at 1,350 feet above the valley floor in the Atlas Peak District, give a consistent source for the finest Napa Valley fruit. The results are tangible and oh so tasty!
The knowledgeable staff will also help you find unique foods to pair with the wine of your choice. “We have carried through our concept of fine wines to the fine food selection too,” notes Ron. For example, they carry the magnificent cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery.
Florian’s also sponsors a wine club. Every other month, he’ll ship a selection of wines to members, and on the non-ship months, there will be a special event at the store for wine club members.
Whether you are a local or a visitor, if you haven’t been to Florian’s yet, be sure to stop in: 11260 Donner Pass Rd # 1 (next to Safeway) in Truckee, CA 96161. Telephone (530) 550-0802. Open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 7 pm.
© 2009 Barbara Keck
For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article, written by me, appeared in my column "It's Grape" in April 2009.