Fall for wine tours and tasting

FALL IS AN IDEAL TIME TO VISIT FOOTHILL wineries, when the vines and trees show off fall colors.

In Nevada County, the big red barn at Smith Vineyard is redolent of New England. Naggiar Vineyard’s Tuscan-style tasting room reminds you of the Italian countryside.

In Placer County, the Wine Trail is a collection of wineries in Auburn and Newcastle that provide weekend tastings. An annual Holiday in the Hills event also is popular.

Pilot Peak in Penn Valley has an end of harvest celebration called “Turkey Treats at the Peak,” a fun event that pairs its wines with turkey dishes.

You also can stroll the streets of historic Grass Valley and Nevada City, visiting the growing number of tasting rooms.

Grass Valley’s lineup includes Avanguardia, Sierra Starr, Smith, Lucchesi and the Grass Valley Wine Co., comprised of Montoliva, Solune, Bent Metal and Pilot Peak.

Nevada City’s tasting rooms include Indian Springs, the Nevada City Winery—and newcomer Clavey Wines in November.

When it comes to wine drinking, all the vintners make award-winning wines that are well suited for holiday dining.

Some examples include Avanguardia Cristallo, a soft Russian white wine that pairs perfectly with the traditional Italian Seven Fish Dinner on Christmas Eve.

Sierra Starr’s Starr Bright champagne — unique in the foothills — is a Brut bubbler with a touch of sweetness.

Montoliva’s Aglianico is a dry red wine that makes a perfect pairing for any fowl, including turkey, chicken or duck.

Solune’s Cabernet Franc is a favorite, working well with marbled beef and lamb.

Naggiar’s Mistero is the best of Zinfandel, Sangiovese and Syrah grapes. Enjoy it with pasta, chicken or light meal dishes. Naggiar was named the area’s favorite winery by viewers of KCRA television, a notable honor.

Lone Buffalo’s “Where the Buffalo Roam” red wine is a popular Rhone-style blend. It is elegant and easy to drink.

Pilot Peak’s Syrah Port called Porta Joyas (for “Bearer of Jewels” in Spanish) won Best of Class in this year’s San Francisco Chronicle tasting competition.

(Photo of Harvest Festival at Naggiar Vineyards. Credit: Dan Senkbeil)

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