California wines shine at Wine Walk


The 8th Annual Tahoe City Wine Walk in June presented tourists and locals a chance to taste wines from regional California wine producers as they sashayed the streets of downtown Tahoe City on a nice, summer day. This fundraiser for the Tahoe City Downtown Association attracts great wineries and hundreds of wine lovers.

I started my tasting tour at Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company, where they poured a 2011 Chardonnay, Main Street Winery, St. Helena, with grapes sourced from Santa Barbara County. The result is a wine with aroma of pear and tropical fruit, and taste of melon, lemon and apple, a hint of toasted almonds. It’s a nicely balanced and creamy wine, with a bit of spice. 13.5 percent alcohol. It’s on the wine list at Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company for $6 by the glass.

A favorite area winery of mine is CG di Arie, based in El Dorado County. From its tasting location in front of Barifot, I sampled di Arie’s 2009 Sierra Legend, a red blend that won Double Gold in the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This blend (35 percent Syrah, 25 percent Primitivo, 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Cabernet Franc) features grapes from the Shenandoah Valley of California. It has an aroma of berries and chocolate, with flavor of fruit, and some savory and smoky notes, too. Well balanced and with a structured acidity, this is a food friendly wine perfect for summer meals. 14.3 percent alcohol. $35 by the bottle. Visit

Cielo Estate of El Dorado County poured wine at the North Tahoe Arts Center. The yummy 2011 Magnifique, El Dorado, is a blend of 80 percent Merlot, 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 percent Cabernet Franc. Wine Director Bill Manson was on hand to discuss this wine, which features flavors of red fruits such as black cherry, currant and cassis. It is smooth, silky and has a lingering finish. 13.9 percent alcohol. Visit

Mount Aukum, El Dorado County, chose Blue Stone Jewelry as its pouring venue. I tasted the 2007 Syrah from the Fair Play AVA, and enjoyed this full-bodied wine. The flavor is classic Syrah – berry and firm spices with smoky tannins. 15.7 percent alcohol. $35 by the bottle. Buy at Blue Stone Jewelry in Truckee or go to

As you might expect, Uncorked in the Cobblestone Mall had many of these wines on hand for tasting and for sale. Uncorked featured Hatcher’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Sierra Foothills. A nice citrusy nose of grapefruit, and flavor of lime and green apple. The medium acidity makes this a great summer wine. 14.3 percent alcohol. $18 by the bottle. Visit

Bogle’s 2011 Merlot is a crowd-pleaser and widely available. Alpenglow Sports hosted this winery, and lines were long to sample this well-known wine. Cherry cola is the dominant flavor, with currant and fig mingling with a pleasant herbal nature. It has a smooth and lovely mouthfeel. 13.5 percent alcohol. Internet prices as low as $10 per bottle. Now, that’s a sweet spot for the summer.

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Barbara Keck
Barbara started writing for newspapers when she was 14 and continues to write, most recently the “Wineries of the Sierra Foothills” book published by Range of Light Media, parent company of The Tahoe Weekly. Barbara wrote the wine column for the Weekly for many years, and contributes occasional tidbits on tourism and entertainment topics. A long marketing consulting career that included extensive international travel led her to conclude that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Almost 20 years of enjoying the seasons on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe has confirmed her belief.