Wine Tasting and Winter Sports Make the Perfect Pairing
California's High Sierra "Gold Rush" country is where the world comes to play, where one can admire spectacular snow-capped mountains while sipping a glass of California wine. Wine lovers can also enjoy the nearby wine regions and wines of the Sierra Foothills and Inland Valleys as well as Southern California, which offers some surprising high altitude vineyards as well as great ski spots. Although the vines are dormant, winter is a good time to visit because with the hectic bustle of harvest complete, one has a good chance of meeting the winemakers.
To help inspire wine lovers to add more flavor to their winter getaways, Wine Institute—with the help of some winter fun-loving winemakers and growers—suggests these five wine and snow country road trip ideas. For more inspiration on California wines and wine regions go to www.discovercaliforniawines.com.
Visitors to the High Sierra region at this time of year can taste the new vintage at winter barrel tastings, or take special tours or wine blending classes. Many vineyards are located at 1,500 to 3,000 feet, with the warm summer days and cool nights producing distinctive Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay. They can also enjoy the area’s charming California Gold Rush attractions, dotted along or near historic Highway 49, from gold panning sites to ghost towns.
|Daniel Vu of Heitz Wine Cellars.|
In the High Sierra, Lake Tahoe is a favorite quick winter getaway for winery insiders from Napa Valley, such as Daniel Vu at Heitz Wine Cellars: "I love to snowboard and Lake Tahoe is a close and beautiful drive away." Any weekend he's free, he packs his gear and a few bottles of Cabernet and heads for the hills!
If North Lake Tahoe is your destination, check out the nearby wineries of Nevada County, where visitors can also relive another era on the historic Nevada County Railroad, enjoy fresh powder at Sugar Bowl Resort, or experience California Gold Rush history at the Northstar
Mining Museum or by walking the streets of Nevada City. The historic downtown corridor looks nearly the same as it did over 100 years ago, and visitors can treat themselves to handmade ice cream, local chocolates, local artisan gifts as well as wine.
If North Lake Tahoe is your destination, check out the nearby wineries of Nevada County, where visitors can also relive another era on the historic Nevada County Railroad, enjoy fresh powder at Sugar Bowl Resort, or experience California Gold Rush history at the Northstar Mining Museum or by walking the streets of Nevada City. The historic downtown corridor looks nearly the same as it did over 100 years ago, and visitors can treat themselves to handmade ice cream, local chocolates, local artisan gifts as well as wine.
Over in Placer County, winemaking came the same year as gold was discovered—1848. Many miners became vintners as the region slowly transformed from Gold Country to farmland, and many of those families are still making wine today. Old Town Auburn is a must-see, boasting a dozen sites on the National Register of Historic Places, taverns, galleries and antique stores. Don’t miss the Holidays in the Hills Wine Tour, Dec. 14 & 15, featuring an open-house tasting at 17 wineries along the Placer County Wine Trail.
Those traveling to South Lake Tahoe will want to see Amador County, featuring several gold country towns such as Jackson, Sutter Creek, Amador City, and Dry Town. Stroll narrow sidewalks, old saloon buildings and one-room school houses. Amador wineries take advantage of year-long sunny weather by providing many outdoor venues to enjoy wine, art, concerts and picnics. The Fair Play Wine Trail is a must, with wineries producing at some of the highest elevations in California, yielding deeply flavorful wines from an amazingly diverse range of grape varieties. The “West End” wineries will hold a Holiday Open House, Dec. 14 & 15, with small bites paired with signature wines. During the first weekend in March, 37 regional wineries will host Behind the Cellar Door, offering educational seminars on all aspects of winemaking as well as imaginative food and wine pairings.
|Winemaker Frank Hildebrand|
of Narrow Gate Vineyards
El Dorado County is another fantastic option, sitting on the north end of California’s famed Mother Lode, the 120-mile gold vein discovered in the late 1840s which became the epicenter of the Gold Rush. Today, the region is better known for its historic towns like El Dorado, with its quaint shops, restaurants and art. Frank Hildebrand of Placerville's Narrow Gate Vineyards says winter marks the beginning of the winemaking season, when they “do a lot of cellar work and get our first glimpse of the quality of the vintage.” For Frank and his family, winter is a special time. “We get to entertain more, get the fireplaces fired up, and enjoy our big reds with braised dishes! El Dorado wine country is all about altitude so snow is normal for us at 2500–2700 feet.” At Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, visitors can visit Gold Rush starter James Marshall’s cabin, museum and gift shop, Sutter’s Mill, the original gold discovery site, historic churches, a schoolhouse and blacksmith shop and try gold panning and more. Thirty-two wineries will host Passport WeekendsApril 5 & 6 and 12&13, featuring wine and food pairings, barrel tastings, local art and music.
|Dutton-Goldfield winemaker Dan Goldfield|
Read more here: http://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/pressroom/11112013