Wine Festival at Tahoe's Squaw Village showcases Affordable and Varied Wines

There is always something to do at the Village at Squaw Valley, and a favorite wine tasting opportunity is the Art, Wine & Music Festival held each year during the summer.  The date changes, but the fun and good wines are always there.  Wine tasting stations are scattered throughout the Village in a number of tents so you can enjoy music at many points, and look at art while you taste wines.  Here are a few that I enjoyed.

Reynolds Family Winery
2009 Chardonnay
Reynolds Family Winery poured its 2009 Chardonnay, Napa Valley.  The aroma is of apricot and caramel and there is a bit of effervescence to this wine.  These tiny bubbles reveal taste of lemon custard, honeydew and tangerine.  14.5 per cent alcohol.  $29 the bottle.

Rod Moniz
Of the wines featured by Moniz Family Wines, I enjoyed the 2010 “Cuvee Olivia”, which winemaker owner Rod Moniz named after his daughter.  (There is also Cuvee Alexandra.)  The grapes for this wine are from Sonoma County and it is a Bordeaux style blend of 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 19 percent malbec, 14 percent Cabernet Franc, 10 percent Petit Verdot and 7 percent Merlot.  Really yummy, a lively wine with taste of dark berry fruit and hint of spice and vanilla.  It has balanced acidity, a solid structure, and soft tannins.  13.9 per cent alcohol.  $18 the bottle.

Mary Tye pours
for Clarksburg Wine Co.
The Clarksburg Wine Company presented its 2011 Chenin Blanc that has a touch of Viognier to add to smoothness.   Chenin Blanc is, for the most part, an under-appreciated wine in America.  It is wildly popular in South Africa, and truly delicious.  Here are the winemaker’s notes: “ a medley of fruits and floral scents. Impressions of ripe pear, apple, and white nectarine intermingle with jasmine and apple blossom. On the palate this wine displays a rich, round mouth feel with a burst of fresh, crisp acidity and slate. Tastes of peach, nectarine, melon, and spice abound. As the wine finishes, a hint of Asian pear and lime will linger during the long crisp finish.”   12.5 percent alcohol.  $16 the bottle.

White Hart’s 2011 Pinot Noir, Central Coast, is a great tasting and well-priced Pinot Noir.  Michael Filice, Proprietor & Winegrower, believes in making wines that are not over-extracted, over-oaked, or over-handled.  14.5 per cent alcohol.  $24 the bottle.

The 2012 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc from Round Pond winery is 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc.  It has delicate and yet vibrant aroma of white peach, apricot, citrus and a taste of  honeydew melon, lemon and kiwi.  This Sauvignon Blanc is fresh and bright, and is a true reflection of the winery’s focus on purity of fruit and their terroir.  14.5 per cent alcohol.  $24 the bottle.

Uncorked at Squaw works hard with the event organizers to suggest wineries that are varied, and to assure that the wines are affordable and yet tasty.  Visit this wine shop next time you are at Squaw, and put the festival on your watch-list for next year.

This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Time column, in August 2013 

Wine Pairings at Farm to Peak Dinner, mid-mountain Homewood, are Well Selected

130 lucky guests
What a glorious place to learn about good wine!  The middle of the mountain at Homewood is the location of West Shore Café’s new dinner series, Farm to Peak.  The early July event featured wines selected by Jeni Brill, Food and Beverage Manager,  West Shore Café.  She did a fine job, first selecting the varietials that would pair with the dishes prepared by guest Chef Breana Greene, and then Jeni selecting the wineries.   This is a very intelligent way to prepare for a wine-dine experience, and all of the wines were perfect pairings that did not overwhelm the foods. 

View from mid-mountain,
The next event is August 31, and no doubt there will be more in 2014.  You are in for a great treat if you go.

Murrieta’s Well 2012 The Whip was a great pairing for the charcuterie platter.  Located in Livermore Valley, Murrieta’s Well vineyards were originally planted in 1883 with vineyard cuttings from two very famous French wineries, Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margaux.    The Whip is a great white blend that uses many aromatic and flavorful varieties:  Chardonnay predominates, followed by Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and then Orange Muscat, Viognier, Pinot Blanc, Semillon and Muscat Canelli.  It’s a full-bodied wine with aroma and flavor of white peach, vanilla, butterscotch and orange blossom.   13 percent alcohol.

Paul Dolan Chardonnay
Paul Dolan’s 2011 Chardonnay is a classic Mendocino County Chardonnay, perfect with the beet salad.  Like all Paul Dolan wines, it is certified organic.  It’s an elegant wine that’s a blend of Mendocino grapes from the cool-sites of the northern benchlands and lush warmer-site fruit from Hopland.  The brightness of the fruit shows through, and the flavors are of ripe pear, crisp apple, and winter citrus fruit, with a creamy vanilla spice that adds to the smooth mouthfeel.  13.5 percent alcohol.

Joseph Phelps 2011 Pinot Noir from Freestone Vineyards, Sonoma, was delicious with the duck confit.  This was my personal favorite pairing of the event.  Wonderful aroma of cherry, currant and sweet spices with a rich and full mouth feel of flavors of concentrated raspberry, cherry, allspice and vanilla.  Freestone Vineyards also produce grapes with a characteristic tangerine peel flavor, and it’s here in this wine!  A great Pinot Noir at a reasonable alcohol level:  13.5 percent.  Bravo!

Muscato di Asti
A perfect end to the meal, a Muscato!  The Batasiolo 2010 Muscato di Asti is produced on the Beni di Boscareto estate in the village of Serralunga d’Alba, at the western limit of the Asti region .   This delicious straw-yellow-golden wine has a sweetly soft flavor that lingers, and enhanced the rosemary panna cotta dessert.  5.5 percent alcohol.

For more information on the Farm to Peak series, contact West Shore Café at 5160 West Lake Blvd, Homewood, CA , tel 530-584-6840

Dusk at Lake Tahoe's West Side,
at end of Farm to Peak event

This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Time column, in August 2013

Tasting the Gold of El Dorado Wineries at South Lake Tahoe Community

Madrona Winery sets the tone
with its Lake Tahoe-named blend
One of my favorite Tahoe-area summer wine events is the“Taste of Gold,” which benefits the Lake Tahoe Community College Foundation. Why the name? Well, it’s all about wines from El Dorado, that California county over there on the South side of Lake Tahoe. The term El Dorado, meaning “the golden one” was coined by Spanish explorers in the mid 1500’s as they sought a city of gold believed to lie in the heart of the Amazon jungle. To find your “gold” in terms of good wine from the Sierra Foothills, simply attend the event, held each year on campus. Top wineries from El Dorado County offer many wines to taste.

Jen Tomei pours Boeger Wines
Boeger Winery, Placerville, 2012 Pinot Gris. It has aromas of honey, peach and green apple. On the palate, I like the hint of spice and the fact that it is light and delicate makes it a great summer wine. Grapes are sourced from Boeger’s own Pinot Grande vineyard. $15 the bottle. 13.5 percent alcohol.
Tina & Charlie Bruess
pour for Crystal Basin

Crystal Basin Cellars, Camino, 2010 Petite Sirah. A warm black cherry aroma leads to two distinct layers of flavor featuring, on the one hand, blueberries and on the other, soft tannins. $27 the bottle. 15.8 percent alcohol.

Connie Varvais & friend
pour for Hollys Hill
Holly’s Hill Vineyards, Placerville, 2007 Patriarche. This is a delicious blend of Rhone wines: 63 percent Mourvedre, 19 percent Syrah, 13 percent Grenache Noir, 5 percent Counoise. Aroma and taste of strawberries, dark berries and plum with complex spices. This wine has a nice earthiness, good acidity and smooth tannins. I love this blend. $30 the bottle. 14.4 percent alcohol.

Perry Creek Winery, Fair Play, 2011 Zinman Rose. Aroma of strawberry and hints of flowers, and a taste that come in layers of all the fruits of summer. This is a light, dry and delightful Rose that is easy to drink. $12 the bottle.14.2 percent alcohol.

Carolyn Silan pours
for Colibri Ridge
Colibri Ridge Winery, Fair Play, 2007 Barbera Fair Play. Wow, a whopper of a wine at 16.1 percent alcohol but tannin-lovers will find this delicious with berry aroma that leads to a mouthful of lush tasting blackberry, cherry, raspberry and blueberries. $21.50 the bottle.

Nello Olivo pours for
Sarah Deliniere
Nello Olivo Winery, Placerville, 2009 Merlot. Try this wine if you’ve become jaded about Merlot. It’s quite a bold Merlot, made in the Bordeaux style. $39.50 the bottle. 13.7 percent alcohol.

Other El Dorado wineries pouring were Lava Cap and Madrona, both located near Placerville.

Lake Tahoe Community College is located in South Lake Tahoe; more at Everyone enjoyed the tastings and the cuisine of Lake Tahoe on the beautiful Ledbetter Terrace and Demonstration Gardens.

If you missed this event, I suggest a visit to the tasting rooms of these wineries. There are dozens of great visits you can make in a day from Lake Tahoe. Check the El Dorado Wine Association map at
This review appeared in my Wine Time column, published August 8, in The Tahoe Weekly.