Tasting Notes: Andis, Avanguardia, Nevada City Winery & Sierra Starr

Now in its 16th year, the Foothills Celebration in downtown Grass Valley is one of the region’s premier wine and food tasting events.

Participants gather on Saturday, March 4, from 1-4 p.m., to sip wine from more than 20 foothills wineries while sampling delicacies from local restaurants, including favorite nibbles from their menus. One of the more decadent offerings has been strawberries dipped in chocolate from a fountain.

Attendees also can shop at the clothing boutiques, art galleries, chocolatiers, home design stores, and antique emporiums in the historic district. SierraVintners.com

The winery’s 2017 Dulcinea is rich, full and deep ruby red with complex chocolate and plum flavors. This fortified wine is the perfect finale to a satisfying meal and will pair beautifully with fruit, bittersweet chocolate and rich cheeses. The dessert wine also is poured at the Golden Era lounge in Nevada City.

The winery also has freshened up its sparkling wine label. Nevada City Winery’s tasting room now features cheese plates from Wheyward Girl Creamery. Its art exhibits change monthly. The winery’s gift shop includes chocolates made with its wines, ideal for a Valentine’s Day gift. NevadaCityWinery.com

Avanguardia now produces a methode champenois sparkling wine using the same formula as its highly regarded flagship white wine Cristallo, made from the Georgian Rkatsiteli grape plus pinont grigio, pinot blanc and melon de Bourgogne. It is dubbed L’edonista (or “The Hedonist”).

“We sent this carefully crafted base wine off to one of the few California producers who is both willing and equipped to convert another winery’s base wine into a sparkler using the time-honored traditional method where the fermentation takes place right in the bottle you buy (as opposed to the Charmat, or bulk process, where it takes place in a big tank),” says the winery’s owner-winemaker Rob Chrisman. It is the only Nevada County sparkling wine to be produced from Nevada County grapes using the methode champenoise, says Rob. AvanguardiaWines.com

Get married for 24 hours at Bent Metal’s Grass Valley winery on President’s Day weekend (Sunday, February 19). Bring some friends, write some vows and the winery will officiate your ceremony. Then grab some wine and picnic items and hold a reception in the winery’s courtyard.

On February 4 the winery will release their 2012 Syrah and later this spring, their new “Rockhouse Red.” BentMetalWinery.com

Every Saturday, February 4-April 15, intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders can take the last chairlift up to the mid-mountain Snowflake Lodge at Diamond Peak ski area in Incline Village and enjoy wine or beer tasting and appetizers before skiing down a freshly groomed run at sunset. (For real-time ski re- ports and après ski at Tahoe resorts, visit the “Explore” tab at m.SierraCulture.com.)

Andis Wines’ annual all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab dinner and white wine pairing is January 28 for its wine club members. The Amador County winery also will be releasing its 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. AndisWines.com

The Grass Valley winery plans to release a “three pack” of its Sauvignon Blanc wines—one aged in oak, one from stainless steel and one from a new concrete fermenting egg—in late winter or spring. The limited release will showcase the wine itself—but also the different tanks used for fermenting wine.

“Because concrete is porous, the tanks are said to be ‘breathable,’ like barrels, but without adding any oak character to the wine,” according to Zester Daily, the well-regarded food, wine and travel website. “The egg shape plays a role, too, by helping to create a natural stirring effect during fermentation.” SierraStarr.com

More wineries are going solar. Examples that we’ve written about include Pilot Peak, which mounted solar panels on the roof of its winery and tasting room in Penn Valley. Now Sierra Starr has installed 50 solar panels near some newly planted vineyards to generate electricity. Sierra Starr already has one of the most energy efficient wineries in the region. Its new winery built five years ago was designed to maintain a 58-65o ambient temperature all year, ideal for winemaking and storage. This was accomplished by burying part of the building underground and using structural insulated panels (or SIP panels).

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