Tasting Notes: What’s new at foothill wineries

SIERRA FOOTHILLS WINERIES WON HIGH HONORS in the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the world’s largest competition of American wines.

Sierra Vintners wineries that won medals included Avanguardia Wines, Lucchesi Vineyards, Montoliva Vineyard, Naggiar Vineyards and Pilot Peak Winery.

Montoliva won “Best of Class” for its 2008 Sierra Bella. “Now try to tell me this isn’t the best $15 bottle of wine on the planet,” says Winemaker/Owner Mark Henry, known for his effervescence.

Pilot Peak won three Golds (Petite Sirah, Syrah and Tempranillo, all from 2009). Naggiar won two Golds (for its 2009 Mistero and its 2008 Il Nonno), as well as two other medals (Silvers for Malbec and Syrah). Avanguardia won three medals (a Silver for 2007 Cristallo, and Bronzes for Premiato and

In Placer County, Casque Wines, Ciotti Cellars, Fawnridge Winery, Lone Buffalo Vineyard, Mt. Vernon Winery, Pescatore, Popie Wines and Wise Villa all won medals.

Casque won a Gold for its Malbec and a Silver for its Calotte. Popie won a Silver for a dry Rosé and other medals. Ciotti won medals for its old-vine Zinfandel and Barbara. For a full list of winners, go to WineJudging.com.

In December Brigitte Wilson and her son, Brian, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest free-standing mountain. The two carried wine labels from Pilot Peak Winery, pinned to their jackets, to the top. (A bottle weighed too much). Sierra Vintners’ wine reaching new heights. Brigitte is the sister-in-law of Lynn Wilson, co-owner and winemaker of Pilot Peak.

The area’s wine tasting rooms are becoming art galleries in their own right, showcasing talented artists. Smith Vineyards is featuring colorful horses from Leslie Ann Webb (LAWebb.com) in its Grass Valley tasting room. “My work reflects the deep connection I have for these majestic animals” says Leslie.

The Grass Valley Wine Company in Grass Valley (Solune, Bent Metal and Pilot Peak) is showcasing the photography of Joseph Howard. “My wife says I see things other people don’t or can’t see,” says
Howard (Archive.JSHowardPhotography.com).

Popie Wines’ new tasting room at the High Hand Fruit Sheds in Loomis features “Vineyard Picnic” by Unni Stevens, whose artwork appears at the High Hand Gallery, HighHandGallery.wordpress.com. “My art is inspired by the mystery of nature and its seasons.”

151 Union Square in Grass Valley is planning a winemaker dinner on Valentine’s Day featuring Naggiar Wines and catering by Jim Eckardt’s Club 141. The menu will feature tapas courses and dessert, plus a fresh rose in a bud vase (151UnionSquare.com.)

(Photo: Naggiar Vineyards, by Dan Senkbeil)

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