Annual Soroptimist Wine Tasting at Tahoe-Donner: Calendar this for Next Year!

Yes, I was the one with the hand in the air bidding on 29 bottles of wonderful wines and a small refrigerator to put them in. That was just part of the fun at the annual Soroptomist International fundraiser, held at the Coyote Moon clubhouse in Truckee in early June. Attendees came from near and far to contribute to a worthy cause, all the while sipping interesting Sierra wines, paired with small plates from nearby restaurants.

(Photo: Phil and Jill Maddux of Lone Buffalo Vineyards, Auburn CA)

For this 36th annual event, wineries participating were Bantam Cellars, Brutacao Cellers, Busby Cellars, Karly Wines, Long Buffalo Vineyards, Nevada City Winery, Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, Secret Ravine, Sierra Vista Winery, Steele Wines and Truckee River Winery. Many of these wineries sell from their tasting rooms, and you’ll also find many at nearby restaurants and wine shops.

Bantam Cellars, an Amador County winery located in the Shenandoah Valley near Plymouth, CA, specializes in both Mediterranean varieties as well as Zinfandels. I enjoyed their 2008 Vermentino which is a nice wine for both casual sipping and also will pair well with lighter foods. It has an aroma with some minerality, but offers almond, pear and peach notes too. 12.5% alcohol. $14.00 a bottle at the tasting room, located at 10851 Shenandoah Road in Plymouth.

Since I was enjoying the wines, I tasted Bantam’s 2007 Garth Cobb Select Primitivo, named for the winemaker. I agree with Jonna Cobb’s assessment that this is a “special bottle of wine, worthy of birthday and anniversary celebrations.” Yes, it has gooseberries, cherries and a nice soft middle to the mouth feel. 15.0% alcohol. $24.00 a bottle. By the way, their “Big Sister Winery” is Karly Winery.

Lone Buffalo Vineyards, located in Placer County, presented their 2008 Where the Buffalo Roam, a Rhone-style blend produced this year from Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache & Cinsault grapes The fruit for this wine is 1/3 estate, and the remainder is sourced from other Foothill grape growers. This is a very food-friendly wine. Winemaker’s notes are spot-on: “Concentrated but lively fruit, silky tannins, depth with a hint of spice, elegant and easy to drink!” 15.2% alcohol. $21 a bottle. The good news is that in the last 4 years, Lone Buffalo has grown from 100 case production to more than 1000 cases. You can visit them at 2682 Burgard Lane, Auburn. Many local Lake Tahoe restaurants carry their fine wines.

Busby Cellars is a family owned vineyard and winery specializing in small lots of estate-grown varietals. It is the northern-most winery in the Fair Play viticultural region. Their 2008 Eldorado Chardonnay was slightly sweet, and very fresh tasting; I violated my own rule and had three tastes as it paired with many foods. 13.7% alcohol. $15 a bottle.

Renaissance Winery’s 2004 Mediterranean Red is a blend of 54% Grenache,26% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah. This classic Rhone blend tastes like a Chateauneuf, but of course grapes are sourced from North Yuba County. Winemaker’s notes: “Aromatically, very intense, complex brambly fruit with blackberry and raspberry notes. Bright, vibrant, and vigorous on the palate with a very long spicy, refreshing finish”. Enjoy it now or cellar it for several years. The winery and tasting room are located in Oregon House, (Yuba County) CA. 13.9% alcohol, $30 a bottle.

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. Want to get involved? Call Truckee-Donner club president Lorna Leyton at 530 587 0826.

© 2010 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 appeared in my column "It's Grape" in June 2010.

Watch for my forthcoming book: "Wineries of the Sierra and Its Foothills". Publication date early Summer 2011, Wine Appreciation Guild Publishing.

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