Spring wine tasting in Nevada County

Marilyn Chrisman of Avanguardia

Spring has sprung, and tasting rooms are opening their doors a bit longer now. There are many opportunities to taste the fine wines of the Sierra foothills, and some of the most interesting opportunities are less than an hour away. The wineries of Nevada County beckon, and we were primed for more tastes by attending the Flavor of Nevada County event last fall. Here are some of the yummy discoveries.

I’ve always enjoyed the wines produced by Avanguardia, as winemaker Rob Chrisman so deftly blends more than 20 Italian, Russian and French varietals along with cross-varietals created by the University of California, all grown on his estate vineyards.

The Avanguardia 2012 Rosata Cara Mia is a Rose vinified in the style of Provence. Rob makes his Rosata from Sangiovese and other red varieties, vinified as if they were white wines. The small amount of residual sugar in this Rosata leaves a dry impression on the palate. 12.7 percent alcohol. $16 for the bottle. Visit Avanguardia at its tasting room at 13028 Jones Bar Road in Nevada City. Call (530) 274-8200 for hours or visit avanguardiawines.com.

Brenda Taylor of Sierra Knolls Winery

Sierra Knolls Winery presents a 2011 Primitivo that is definitely worth tasting. It has a bold rich flavor, and opens with bright notes of cherry and blackberry. I like the taste of toasted almond and dark chocolate on the close. This Primitivo is 13.4 percent alcohol and $24 for the bottle. The Sierra Knolls Vineyard & Winery Tasting Room is open by appointment only on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. at 19635 Kingswood Court in Grass Valley. Or, visit its new and conveniently located tasting room, Bear River Wine Tasting, at 10024 Linnet Lane in Auburn. For hours, call (530) 269-2327 or visit sierraknollswinery.com.

Lucchesi Winery produces its wines from its lovely, southwest-facing estate vineyards in Grass Valley. The beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada enhances the taste of the wines when you enjoy the hospitality of the tasting room at the winery at 19698 View Forever Lane, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or on weekends by appointments. Or, go to the downtown tasting room at 128 Mill St. in Grass Valley.

The Lucchesi Masque is a blended red wine made from Sierra Foothill grapes. It has fruity aromas of cherry crème brûlée, mocha and a hint of tobacco with a soft, fruity medium body and a jammy, nut-accented finish. 14.8 percent alcohol. $12 by the bottle. Visit lucchesivineyards.com.

Christina Smith of Smith Vineyards

Smith Vineyards produced a 2012 white merlot dessert wine, Christina’s Blush, that was delicious. It is light and fruity, with aromas of rhubarb and strawberry with bright flavors of cherry leading to a fresh, clean finish. 13.5 percent alcohol. $16 for the bottle. Try it at the tasting room at 142 Mill St. in Grass Valley. Call (530) 273-7032 or visit smithvineyard.com.

Search past columns at winebiznews.blogspot.com, or contact Barbara at [email protected]


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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.