Idaho's Sunny Slope Wine District is tailor-made for grape growing.
The arid climate keeps the wine grapes from being over watered and bland. The alluvial soil is rich in nutrients.
Wine grapes heat up during the summer days and cool down in the evenings, keeping the sugars in check.
As for settings, Koenig Vineyards (Link) rests
in the valley floor with views
of the distant hills.
Indoors, guests sip their local wine in a
casual, yet swank setting.
Outdoors, the huge 3-D chess board is entertaining; or
climb the property’s viewing tower
to soak up the valley’s
sprawling Sunnyslope sites.
While the serving staff was friendly and welcoming, I noticed that Koenig Wine Club Members definitely received
some extra VIP treatment!
The tasting room offered selected seating for their club members, access to small production wines, and enticing perks, i.e. 30% case discounts (at time of post.)
2019 Dry Rose’
2018 Estate Reserve Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah)
The Caldwell area is ripe with local Idaho wines and vistas of the hills and mountains.
Tasters can also enjoy: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Ice Wine Riesling, and more.
Plus, along the way you’ll pass roads with cool names like “Chicken Dinner Rd.”
A toast to your Sunnyslope Sipping!
Go Glass-Free this summer & take along Canned Wines. Here's why...
Utah has some beautiful, breathtaking natural settings. And it has some complex wine laws.
I won’t try explaining it in full, because frankly, I still haven’t ciphered it all out.
Just know, if you’re thinking of visiting Utah for its sublime skiing or hiking, and wine is an active part of your life,
it may be worth while to first have a game plan on just how you’ll find quality wine.
For example, you can buy beer (within certain alcohol levels) at a grocery store.
But grocery stores can’t sell wine.
I was able to order a glass of wine in Utah while dining outdoors.
But if you want to purchase bottles of wine, plan to go to a state run liquor store.
There, you’ll find the usual suspects; entry level wines, mainstream California brands, along with a lite selection of New and Old World wines. Frankly, hard alcohol is cheaper, servings-to-dollar wise. Combine that with the selection of seltzers, mixers, and blended drinks, and it’s not difficult to see that unique, regional California wine is not the front runner in Utah. Yet.
My encounter with visiting a state run liquor store in Salt Lake City, Utah felt something akin to being naughty.
The store was in the back of a funky parking lot, facing an auto body shop and empty lot.
Worse, the store name was conveniently hidden from the main road.
Tired, lifeless employees managed to get through the crowds of customers mainly purchasing
hard booze and sweet, mixed alcoholic drinks.
It felt as, “If you really must buy alcohol (especially non-beer) we are going to make this as ugly an experience as necessary.” What a contrast to my wine upbringing in California, where wine can be a warm, joyful, and beautiful
addition to gatherings and conversations.
But hope was stirred for Utah.
When passing through Cedar City, I was surprised to discover Iron Gate Winery (Link.)
There is a wine culture in that state--home to breathtaking Zion National Park--with its own wine trail.
Iron Gate Winery sources their grapes from Utah as well as California, Oregon, and Washington.
Guests can enjoy wine by the glass or flight. They also serve small plates, other beverages, and sell wines by the bottle.
Their Tasting Room offers:
A “White” wine selection including: Riesling, Chardonnay, and Rose’.
“I/G Reds” include: Alicante’, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and red blends.
The “I/G Reserve Collection” offers: a Utah Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more.
For our tasting, we chose to sit outdoors.
The sunny skies combined with snow on the ground were a unique setting for the wine. It chilled quickly in my glass,
so contrary to tasting habits, I held the glass between both hands to warm it and bring out the flavors
...and savor wine in Utah.
Cheers to your next sunny tasting!
For another beautiful setting, the Monterey Wine Trade Tasting is just steps from Carmel Beach....
Every now and then I get to visit a winery
while on a date with my husband.
Not for the purpose of doing a feature on a winemaker or a tasting room.
But just because I want to relax, sip and swallow all of my tastings, and be a guest.
Inevitably, we talk about the wines together as well as with the staff. We love it.
Mica Raas is from my home town, Santa Cruz, CA.
He moved to the El Dorado County region to further pursue his career in wine.
He’s been part of the craft wine industry in Santa Cruz and winemaker for 1850 Wine Cellars based in Sutter Creek.
These days, he has his own winery and tasting room in beautiful Placerville (Link.)
I’ve had the chance to meet Mica at the Amador County Four Fires Festival.
He’s worked first hand with fruit from the Santa Lucia Highlands and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Now, he also crafts wines with El Dorado County grapes; combining his years of experience.
2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
2016 Cotes du Cruz Rouge
2016 Tempranillo, Clarksburg.
2017 Nebbiolo, Fair Play.
Typically I prefer tasting wines on their own, and then going back to taste the wine alongside the foods.
I feel it lets me experience what the wine is
meant to be, with out the distraction of the foods.
We started the tasting with wine only.
When the reds came, so did the small plates; and
the combination worked!
The savory gorgonzola,
umami mushrooms, salty chips, and
creamy cheeses melded artfully with the wines.
Myka Cellar’s food menu is expanding, and
the dishes are chosen to
complement their line of wines.
The setting will win you over,
while the wine and food will make you
relax and linger.
Happy Wine & Food Pairing to you!
For your next wine outing, bring along some of my Tasting Room Tips...
Placerville takes credit for being located “just above the fog-line, and just below the snow-line.”
Lewis Grace Vineyards (link) is nestled in this gorgeous sunbelt of the California foothills.
It’s a region that draws visitors to it year round.
Families, who had been stuck at home with antsy children, flocked to the country in hopes of fresh air.
The Apple Hill region is dotted with farms that offer fresh baked goods, fruit, Christmas trees and WINE.
Owners, Steve and Bea, have honed in the art of hospitality.
With their enticing line of wines and gracious setting, wine fans have every reason to slow down and enjoy!
At my tasting, the winery allowed guests to bring their own food in. Guests can bring picnic items or take out to fit their needs. (please check current guidelines.)
Outdoor patio seating arrangements offer plenty of social distancing space, with nearby
vineyards and views of distant hills...the perfect setting for those selfies!
For the Wine Tasting:
The wines on their tasting menu were under “Cool & Crisp” or “Warm & Cozy,” giving tasters a preview of what to expect.
Wines are available by the bottle, glass, or a tasting flight.
We chose a flight with a combination of white and red wines.
This is typically my favorite. I feel as if I’m walking through the story of their craft.
For their “Cool & Crisp” wines:
For their “Warm & Cozy” wines:
2014 Aboriginal Red:
Also look for Grace Patriot: Pinot Gris, Petite Sirah, Barbera, their smooth and luscious Estate grown Pinot Noir, as well as dessert wines.
Lewis Grace winery is open most days, which makes it idea for when you want to
skip the crowds and enjoy a weekday tasting. The wines and setting were so lovely, we came back with close family.
Cheers to your next distance-friendly wine tasting.
The flavors and impressions I enjoyed may spur you to try Lewis Grace wines and
discover your own fondness for their family crafted wines.
A toast to you and your next outdoor wine tasting.
Find more wineries & tasting rooms in the sunny California Foothills here...
Wine tasting has become a little more complex in 2021, but is still just as worth it.
Once upon a time, wine fans could hop in their car and head to their winery of choice.
Now, most tasting rooms ask guest to make an appointment online or via phone, for a specific day and time.
Our tasting at Fenton Herriott Vineyards (FHV) was held outside near a bocce ball court and along side the vineyard.
And that’s just fine with me.
I feel that wine tastes better and is more alive when sipped next to the vines.
The homey feel of the winery along with fresh air, outdoor seating, and comfortable spacing is a stellar combination.
Owner, Guy Harriett, planted the vines along the El Dorado County hillside. Today Fenton Herriott’s six acres of grapes include Syrah, Barbera, Sangiovese, and Gewurztraminer. And a new addition--a small lot of Cabernet Sauvignon--is in its first year of wine production.
General manager and winemaker, Nathan, shared with me his interests in honoring the traditional flavors of Fenton Harriett Wines. The fruit-forward, aged wines are what locals and fans have grown to depend on for the last 20 years. FHV wines traditionally are aged in new French oak barrels for up to three years.
Most New World tasters are notorious for drinking their wines soon after purchasing. So FHV lets many of their wines age and mature a bit before being released or sold. That way wine fans—with their first sip—are introduced to what the wine is meant to be.
Clever wine names like “Jane Way” and “Jack Way” are a nod to their location on Jacquier Ct. (dubbed “Jake Way” by locals.)
For the tastings...
Jane Way-Lot 7: a romantic blend of Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer.
Sangioves Rose’ 2018.
Nathan is introducing new silhouettes of wines.
His Jayne Way and his dry Gewurztraminer lean towards an Alsatian style that balances acids,
lower alcohols, and a dryer palate to the wines.
I imagine in the next couple of years the wine selection at FHV will be branching out.
Tasters can look forward to classic full bodied red wines as well as anticipate
dryer, lighter wines like their El Dorado County unoaked Chardonnay.
Just a reminder to visit online or call for reservations and for current wine tasting/Covid procedures.
Safe sipping and good health to you and your loved ones!
For more... Tasters are drinking wine in the comfort and safety of their homes,
read about Closures here...and get the most out of every drop of your wine!
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