Charity Wine Events Help Build Awareness of Small Wineries

You don't need to be a big well-funded and profitable mega-winery in order to make a meaningful contribution to important charities in your community. I know that small wineries, in particular, feel nibbled-to-death-by-ducks, with the number of requests that they get for a case of wine here, a case of wine there. So it is with the average citizen with the requests from police leagues, museums, performing arts groups, high schools, etc. The wise contributor -- citizen and company alike -- assesses what organizations do in fact reach the most worthwhile groups in our society, and consolidates their giving.

One example of putting this thinking into action is the group of wineries that participated in a worthy annual event in the Lake Tahoe area -- and that is the Soroptimist Wine Tasting held in the Truckee-Donner area recently. I was amazed at the huge turnout and camaraderie at the annual fundraiser for Soroptimist International. This event is usually held in May or June, and if you travel to, or live in and around Lake Tahoe at this time of year, you too should attend.

“Sip, Savor, and Smile” was the theme of this 35th annual event. Wineries participating were Bantam Cellars, Benziger Wine, Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Karly Winery, Lone Buffalo Vineyards, Nevada City Winery, Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, Secret Ravine, Steele Wines, Truckee River Winery, and Vina Castellano Vineyard & Winery. You can order most of these wines directly from the wineries via their websites, and I believe that many bottles and cases were sold that way after the event. (Pictured above are the Vina Castellano folks pouring their wines).

Below are just a few of my favorites from the tasting:

Secret Ravine (Loomis, CA) poured its 2005 Rose and the 2004 Zinfandel. Located in the Sierra foothills, this winery specializes in wines made from locally grown grapes. The 2005 Rosè is a light dry wine. The bright red color and taste that includes hints of strawberry, vanilla, plum and peach make it an ideal summer wine. 15% alcohol. $12/bottle. The 2004 Zinfandel is just as full of spice and fruit as a good zin should be! 15.8% alcohol. $14/bottle.

Steele Wines (Kelseyville, CA) has a red wine in their Shooting Star labeled wines named “Black Bubbles”. It is a sparkling syrah which is a sweet, great summer wine. Sparkling shiraz is a great Aussie tradition; you must try it. 13.5% alcohol. $16/bottle.

Lone Buffalo Vineyards (Auburn, CA) makes food-friendly, Rhône-style estate produced wines; I particularly enjoyed their 2008 “Buffalo Rose” , made from their 2nd vintage of our estate grown Sangiovese grapes. It has a fruity strawberry character, nicely dry, and is a perfect summer picnic wine. Only 50 cases were made, so contact them now! $14/bottle. The Thunder Beast Zinfandel 2007 is a classic Foothill Zin. Beautifully balanced, with a big and bold raspberry aroma. Only 60 cases produced. 15.9% alcohol. $20/bottle. And of course there is the Where the Buffalo Roam, a blend of 73% syrah, 23% Grenache and 4% Mourvedre; this Rhône-style red blend has lively fruit, a hint of spice, and is easy to drink. $18/bottle.

Viña Castellano (Auburn, CA) featured its 2005 Tempranillo, which won a Gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle compeittion. I found it really yummy, with lots of fruit, spicy, medium tannin, juicy, and nicely balanced. $26/bottle.

Renaissance Vineyard & Winery (Oregon House, CA) is a small production winery that uses only its own estate grown, hand-harvested grapes to make distinctive terroir wines in limited quantities. Assistant winemaker Shawn poured its 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon which was a lovely fruit-forward cab, with cherry aroma and taste. This vintage has retained its fruit, and will be quite palatable for another 5 years. $30/bottle.

All of these great wines (and many more were poured!) were accompanied by tastes of the specialties from local restaurants including Baxters, Coffee and Cottonwood, Coyote Moon, Dragonfly, Drooling Dog BBQ, Moody’s, Ron Allen Catering, Runway Café, Squeeze In, Thai Delicacy, Truckee Sourdough, Twin Peaks Catering, Village Pizzeria and Wild cherries.

Soroptimist International began in 1921 in Oakland with 80 professional women. Today it is the world’s largest service organization for professional and executive businesswomen, with programs in the areas of economic and social development, education, environment, health, human rights & status of women, and international goodwill and understanding.

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© 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. Much of this information above appeared in my column "It's Grape" in July 2009.



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