Sierra Foothills’ Winning Winter and Seasonal Wine Events

January 25, 2012 12:00 AM

Wine ready for tasting at Pilot Point (courtesy of Pilot Peak Vineyard and Winery)

By Linda J. Bottjer

Wine tasting is a popular pastime many enjoy at individual Sierra Foothills’ wineries. The pleasure increases when it is an AVA winery-wide held event during the winter and other seasons. A theme is set usually to a seasonal occurrence like the autumn harvest, the bottling of new vintage or introduction of wines still in the barrel. Many events begin at a pre-determined winery or location where a commemorative glass, a map and a booklet for tasting notes await.

Individual wineries offer a wide array of foods that pair perfectly with their individual wines. Everything from four cheese macaroni to buffalo sliders and chocolate mocha brownies add another level of delight to the event. Another is the chance to meet the winemakers and owners who can often be found pouring their inspirations. Due to the size of the crowds events typically move from the tasting rooms into the barrel rooms.

Tickets usually sell out weeks prior to the event so do not hesitate in buying yours.

sierrawine barrel Sierra Foothills’ Winning Winter and Seasonal Wine Events

Winemaker Justin Boeger in Barrel Room (credit: Linda J. Bottjer)

El Dorado County Wine Association
Bring Out Barrel, January 28 – 29
Passport, April 14 – 15; April 21 – 22

The new year kicks off with the annual Bring out the Barrel event. At each winery preview the current organic alchemy happening from fermented grapes held in oak barrels. It is poured, young, from the barrel into the glass. If you like what you taste consider buying futures for when the wine is bottled. Wineries often found participating at the Bring out the Barrel include Boeger, Busby Cellars, Colibri Ridge, Fenton Herriott, and Lava Cap. The 2012 event will occur on January 28 and 29.

Two weekends are required for all the fun at the annual Passport event. Warm weather and spring’s pastel colors return to the hills and valleys from Camino to Pleasant Valley and Gold Hill to Fair Play. Wine and food pairings, from over 25 wineries, are presented along with live music and demonstrations from area chefs. April 14-15 and 21-22 are scheduled for 2012’s Passport weekend.

sierrawine vinacastellano Sierra Foothills’ Winning Winter and Seasonal Wine Events

Viña Castellano’s vineyards (credit: Linda J. Bottjer)

Placer County Wine Trail
February 11 – 12

Over the Presidents’ Day and St. Valentine’s weekend, February 11 – 12, chocolate in many forms and fashions is the prevalent treat enjoyed while tasting the best wines of each member winery of the Placer County Wine Trail like Viña Castellano and Fawnridge. Similar wine tasting events occur for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

In October the streets of both downtown and Old Town Auburn are crowded with wine enthusiasts during the Auburn Food and Wine Festival. Shops and stores open to showcase local vintners like the Green Family, Casque and Lone Buffalo paired with culinary delights from area restaurants and caterers.

sierrawine amador Sierra Foothills’ Winning Winter and Seasonal Wine Events

Amador County at autumn (credit: Larry Angier)

Amador County Vintner’s Association
Behind the Cella Door, March 3 – 4

Since the mid 19th century plantings of Zinfandel vines praise has been high for the Amador County wine. Behind the Cellar Door, occurring on March 3-4 2012, brings out the best of Zin along with other Amador gems like Barbera, Syrah and Sangiovese. Vino fanatics of all degrees will enjoy learning about grape subjects such as vine pruning and trellising techniques and organic winegrowing practices. Such knowledge makes enjoying the wine and food, cheese and locally produced olive oils and even richer experience.

The Big Crush is the place to be during the autumn’s harvest. Celebrate the gathering of grapes from over county 30 wineries including Wild otter, Redwood and Terra D’Oro and Karly. Heartier wines are matched with heavier fare such as grilled polenta, beef tri tip and pulled pork sliders.

sierrawine pilotpeak Sierra Foothills’ Winning Winter and Seasonal Wine Events

Wine ready for tasting at Pilot Point (courtesy of Pilot Peak Vineyard and Winery)

Sierra Vintners
Foothills Celebration, March 3

The 15 wineries of Nevada County, and over 20 from other AVAs, welcome spring’s arrival by coming to downtown Grass Valley in the Foothills Celebration on March 3, 2012. Held in the town’s boutiques, galleries and restaurants the tastings are heightened by creative food pairings.

Historical Nevada City bubbles with excitement during the annual Nevada City Uncorked held in August. Since its revival in the mid 1970s the wine industry in this county has thrived. Among the wineries scheduled to appear at both events is Pilot Peak, Nevada City and Bent Medal.

Linda J. Bottjer is a full time writer in Sacramento. Her personal grape adventures of harvesting,
blending, bottling and of course drinking wine are found at