El Dorado/Sierra Foothills Wineries Allow Consumers to "Sample the Sierra" at Lake Tahoe Event

As you read this, Sierra Foothills vineyards will be almost done with harvest, and winemakers are looking at the sugar content of their juice, deciding whether to add this yeast or that, ferment cold or otherwise, and filter or not. So many decisions go into producing an excellent wine, but if the wines poured at the 3rdannual Sample the Sierra event held in South Lake Tahoe in September are indicative, the wines will continue to be good.

Sample the Sierra is a cooperative effort of El Dorado County organizations, growers, producers and businesses to increase awareness of the region’s bounty, heritage, culture and activities. A great addition this year was the Rotary Club of South Lake Tahoe booth that enabled tasters to join the wine clubs of the various wineries.

Colibri Ridge winemaker,
John Alexander
I started my tasting at Colibri Ridge, a winery located in the Fair Play area of El Dorado County. Winemaker John Alexander poured his 2005 Mouvedre, with grapes sourced from the Helen Robin vineyard in Fair Play. It’s a big fruity and spicy Mourvedre, and was rated as the best Mourvedre from the Sierra Foothills at the 2006 California State Fair. 15.2 per cent alcohol. $22.00/bottle. John was not pouring his white ports, one from Viognier, one from Chardonnary, but if you go to the winery, I suggest you buy those dessert wines too: perfect for the upcoming holidays! www.colibriridge.com

Rowena Pegg from the Beach Grill,
South Lake Tahoe, pours
Toogood Estate wines
Another Fair Play winery, Toogood Estate, poured a teaser of a red blend named Foreplay. Malbec, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc all combine to make a nicely tannic and provocative wine. Winery owner Paul Toogood calls this his signature wine. 13.9 per cent alcohol, $30/bottle. Lakeside Beach Grill in South Lake Tahoe serves this and other local wines. www.toogoodwinery.com

Ravel Haynes poured for Shadow Ranch;
Sam Domingo, winemaker for
Wilderotter stopped by
Shadow Ranch Vineyard, located on Fair Play Road in Somerset, El Dorado County, poured its new red blend, Sheriff, which comprises 65 per cent Zinfandel and 35 per cent Syrah. This is a non-vintage blend, and great with the spicy food from Latin Soul restaurant. 14.5 per cent alcohol, $15/bottle. www.shadowranch.com.

Bill Gunn, assistant winemaker at Jodar Vineyards & Winery, Placerville, poured his 2010 Chardonnay. It has a nice Citrus on the nose with notes of grapefruit and lemon on the palate. 14.4 per cent alcohol, $18/bottle. www.jodarwinery.com
Diane Stading , co-owner of
Auriga Wine Cellars, pours their
2009 Red Giant blend

Auriga Wine Cellars of Placerville poured its 2009 Red Giant, a blend of 50% Zinfandel, 25% Merlot and 25% Syrah. It has fruit tones of black cherry, plum and spice with a hint of vanilla on the finish. 14 per cent alcohol, $16/bottle. www.aurigawines.com