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What: Rocks and Rhônes Wine Festival
Who: Five Pleasant Valley wineries: Auriga Wine Cellars, Holly’s Hill Vineyards, Miraflores Winery, Narrow Gate Vineyards, and Sierra Vista Vineyards and Winery
Where: Participating wineries
When: Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day
Cost: $35 a day in advance, $40 at the door
Information: pleasantvalleywineries.com, [email protected] or 530-344-0227
As delightful as a wine trip to the Côtes du Rhône AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) region of France is, there is an enjoyable alternative in the Pleasant Valley area of the El Dorado Appellation.
The El Dorado County experience does not involve extensive planning, packing or paying but offers a wonderful wine-tasting sojourn.
To celebrate the beautifully crafted Rhône-style wines five El Dorado County vintners are presenting the Rocks and Rhônes Wine Festival on Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The wines reflect their origin in the young volcanic rocks of the Pleasant Valley area.
The Memorial Day Weekend event celebrates local flavors of Pleasant Valley pairing local food, art and entertainment with the wine.
The winery personnel will pair locally sourced food including lamb, beef, honey and olive oil, with Rhône varietals like syrah and grenache. Vineyard hikes, barrel tasting and winemaker discussions will showcase the region’s unique growing conditions and winemaking techniques.
Auriga Wine Cellars, 4520 Pleasant Valley Road, is serving strawberry salad featuring Mad Dog Mesa olive oil, El Dorado honey and spring greens from the El Dorado County farmers market, with roasted rosemary garlic chicken; wild mushroom ravioli with sage brown butter and parmigiano-reggiano cheese, catered by Pheasant Wood. There will also be hand-rolled cigars from Art of Cigars.
Holly’s Hill Vineyards, 3680 Leisure Lane, is preparing savory pancakes with lime butter and lamb meatballs in tomato harissa sauce, grass-fed lamb from Sinclair Farms in Penryn to pair perfectly with the Rhônes, including some unusual varieties (can you say counoise?). Learn how the soil affects these grapes.
Miraflores Winery, 2120 Four Springs Trail, is offering good food to complement the Rhônes. Allez! is preparing pork tenderloin stuffed with apricots dressed with aioli ratatouille on a crispy French baguette and a French pissaladiere tart.
Narrow Gate Vineyards, 4282 Pleasant Valley Road, is having a salad of apple, fig, walnuts and goat cheese on homegrown organic greens; wine and star anise braised short ribs from Archer’s Meats with local olive oil and truffle oil; and Yukon gold potatoes. Take a vineyard walk with the winemaker and compare grenache wine grown in different soil and rock types.
Sierra Vista Vineyards and Winery, 4560 Cabernet Way, is matching the incredible view of the snow-topped Crystal Range from the area’s first Rhone-focused winery (started in 1972) with Chipotle BBQ tri-tip on Southwest polenta rounds; duck confit on potato coins; apricot almond rugelach and a glass of Rhone-style wine.
The tour not only focuses on the offerings of the Pleasant Valley area, it also provides support for El Dorado County’s Ag in the Classroom programs.
There will be a raffle for a 100-bottle “Mountain of Wine.” Purchase tickets at any of the participating wineries to support Ag in the Classroom, a program that connects students with their food sources and teaches them the role of agriculture in the community through experiential learning activities.
Tickets for the chance to win the “Mountain of Wine” are $5 each or five for $20. They can also be purchased in advance by contacting [email protected]
Tickets for Saturday or Sunday are $35 per day in advance and are available at pleasantvalleywineries.com. On the day of the event the price is $40. The price includes a souvenir logo glass.