On this date in 1862, Agoston Haraszthy, an entrepreneur, elected official and winemaker, had 100,000 cuttings of 350 different varieties of European grape vines to further the infant California wine industry. He had picked up the cuttings in France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain during a trip in 1861. He was looking to improve California’s root stock and he also studied the European vine-planting and winemaking methods. His plan was to sell the vines to the state, propagate them on his Sonoma property and distribute the best cuttings to would-be winemakers throughout California. The Legislature was not too keen on the idea so Haraszthy tried to distribute the vines and lost a lot of money on the venture. It did however seed what has become a major agricultural industry in California. In March 2007, Haraszthy was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America and his great-great grandson, Vallejo Haraszthy accepted the honor.
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While on the subject of wine, Nello Olivo and Chef David Bagley are presenting a wine dinner featuring a vertical tasting of Nello Olivo’s Toscanello. The Toscanello Wine Dinner is Friday, Jan. 25 at Wedgewood Sequoia Mansion, 643 Bee St. in Placerville. The Toscanello ’07, ’08, ’09, and newly released ’10 and the rare Sagrantino will be paired with an outstanding menu. Tuscan white bean soup with roasted garlic and porcini will go with the Toscanello ’07. The chopped Italian salad matches perfectly with the Toscanello ’08. Pasta Nello alla Romano will go with the Toscanello ’09. An intermezzo of frozen LimonNello will get the palate ready for the roasted venison loin and Toscanello ’10. A dessert of mixed nut tart dried fruit compote will feature a taste of Sagrantino. To enjoy this sequential pairing of the multi-award winning wine call 530-622-5222 for reservations. The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Sequoia Empire Ballroom.
Garratt Wilkin is playing at Findleton Estate Winery, 3500 Carson Road in Camino, on Friday, Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m. He will be singing in the warm tasting room and barrel samples of the 2011 Parrot Head Red will be offered. Be among the first to try the signature wine and hear the inspiration behind the vintage. For more information call 530-644-4018 or 530-644-0714.
The Carson Road Wineries are having two days of tasting wines still in the barrel on Saturday, Jan. 26 and Sunday, Jan. 27 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Bring Out the Barrel event is a great chance to try wines at a young stage and to learn the intricacies of how the wine matures. Small food pairings will add to the tasting fun. Tickets are $25 for both days and are available at crystalbasin.com. Tickets include a commemorative wine glass. Participating Carson Road wineries are: Crystal Basin Cellars, Illuminaire, Beemer’s Winery, Findleton Estate, Fenton Herriott, Bumgarner, Chateau Davel and diVittorio Winery.
The nice folks at Oakstone Winery, 6470 Irish Acres Road in Fair Play, are having barrel tasting and celebrating the wines of the future on Saturday, Jan. 26 and Sunday, Jan. 27 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the barrel room. Everyone is invited to try the six wines — Tempranillo, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Alicante Bouschet, Carignane and ”Old Man Murrill” Zinfandel. Futures of those wines will be available. Gourmet snacks will be served to complement the wines. For more details visit email@example.com.
Mount Aukum Winery, 6781 Tower Road in Mt. Aukum, is having a bunch of neat things happening Saturday, Jan. 26 and Sunday, Jan. 27 from noon to 4 p.m. Guests can enjoy a Wine and Cheese Pairing by sampling cheeses and learning how to organize cheeses and goodies to go with the wine. There will also be BDX Blending Challenge where everyone participates in a hands-on crash course on the essential aspects that go into Bordeaux-style blending. The challenge will be to match winemaker Michel’s blend. Barrel tasting will be conducted so that everyone can try future vintages and then there is the French Lunch featuring: le papin a l’echalote (bread and shallots soup), root de porch aux pistachios ( pork roast with pistachio filling), choux de Bruxelles aux pommes (Brussels sprouts and apples) and poires en cocotte (baked pears). For reservations call 530-620-1675
For those wanting to know more about pairing wine with food Lava Cap Winery, 2221 Fruitridge Road in Placerville, is having regional wine writer and Capital Public Radio wine guy Rick Kushman present a fun tutorial on the basics of putting wine and food together and, of course, Lava Cap has some fabulous wines and some delicious gourmet deli foods to try. Kushman will be there on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. To learn more call 530-621-0175 or visit lavacap.com
The annual Hangtown Hold’em Poker Tournament, sponsored by the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, is Saturday, Jan. 26 at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville. Registration for the tourney is at 3 p.m. and the cards start at 4 p.m. There will be prizes for the winners, raffle prizes, food, no-host bar and fun. Cost is $50 per person with $25 re-buys and $25 add-ons. To play call 530-621-5885.
Cameron Park Community Services District starts its concert series with an appearance by Joni Morris and the After Midnight Band performing “Legendary Ladies of Country Music” on Saturday, Jan. 26. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the concert starts at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available at the CSD office, Shingle Springs/Cameron Park Chamber of Commerce and Fire Station 89. For more information call the Cameron Park Community Services District at 530-677-2231.
Joaquin Fioresi is bringing his mix of folk and hip hop to Zia’s, 312 Main St. in Placerville, on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. His soothing and uplifting sounds are perfect for the candlelit back room. For more details call 530-642-9427.
Madroña Vineyards, 2560 High Hill Road in Placerville, is having a “Lost and Found” sale after cleaning out the cellar. The sale is Sunday, Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m. To learn more call 530-644-5948.