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Discovering wine in winter

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Our area is finally in a beautiful blanket of much-needed snow. For all the shoveling and anxious driving it provides us all, the beauty of this area in snow makes it all worthwhile. This is the perfect time of year to visit some of our local wine shops to find some new and interesting wines that would be perfect to sip in front of the fire on a snowy evening. It is also the time of the year that most of these shops start offering weekly wine tastings that feature a specific winery, usually with that winerys owner or winemaker present.Two of our local shops have started their weekly tastings.This weekend at Uncorked, located at the Squaw Valley Village, Kali and crew have scheduled Vina Castellano winery from Auburn on Jan. 11 and 12, and on Jan. 18 Dogwood Cellars is scheduled. On the weekend of Jan. 19 and 20 Honig Vineyard andamp; Winery will be in. These tastings run from 5 to 7 p.m.For more info, call 584-6090 or write to kali@uncorkedatsquaw.com.Florians Fine Wines and Food located next to Safeway in Truckee, is starting weekly Friday night wine tastings from 5 to 7 p.m.They will be featuring special wines from their shelves to sample and discuss. Call 550-0802 for more information.

If you must get away for a weekend, the first big wine event of 2008 in Sonoma County is the Russian River Road sixteenth annual Winter Wineland, to be held on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 19 and 20 . This is a wonderful chance to sample some great wines and talk to winemakers and vineyard managers. You will be able to taste older vintages and new releases, enjoy food and wine parings, and receive special discounts on wines by the case and by the bottle. There will be more than 100 wineries participating a list of participating wineries is available on the Russian River Wine Road Web site at http://www.wineroad.com, where you can also purchase tickets.Tickets (good for both days includes logo glass) are $40 for both days when purchased in advance (by Jan. 13 2008), $30 for Sunday only and $10 for designated drivers.Purchase tickets for Winter Wineland from any of the participating wineries or directly from the Russian River Wine Road 1-800-723-6336. Plan on picking your tickets up at a smaller winery to avoid the crowds the will surely be at some of the bigger named wineries.The Russian River Wine Road is an organization of wineries and lodgings spread over Northwest Sonoma County from Cloverdale and Geyserville, down to Healdsburg and Santa Rosa and west into Forestville and Guerneville.

The 17th Annual Zinfandel Advocates andamp; Producers Festival better known as ZAP will be held in San Francisco for four days beginning Jan. 23 and culminating on Jan. 26 at Fort Mason with the grand tasting. On the 23rd at City College there will be special flights for tasting which will be paired with food. These tastings will be conducted by wine makers, and will be a fantastic way to learn about Californias oldest wine grape. The following day is a food and zin extravaganza to be held at Fort Mason. Famous area chefs will be preparing food to enjoy with your zins. Friday evening there is a tasting reception at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in Union Square, hosted by winemakers pouring their special wines paired with appetizers. Then on Saturday is the grand finale tasting of over 500 zinfandels, mostly from the 2004 vintage at Fort Mason.Zinfandel Advocates andamp; Producers has been told that this is the biggest single varietal (wine) event in the world and possibly also the largest single-varietal single-day wine event worldwide (the Saturday grand tasting). An estimated 9,000 people attended the four events last year, so if you are interested you should call or go on line now to get tickets for all four events, or any one that appeals to you. Call (530) 274-4900 or go online at info@zinfandel.org



On Jan. 26-27, you may elect to attend the El Dorado barrel tasting weekend. Eighteen El Dorado wineries will be offering barrel sampling in their barrel rooms. There will be light food pairings offered to accompany the tasting, and a great opportunity to learn about wine making from the experts.Tickets are available now for $20 through Jan. 22 or for $30 at participating wineries. Price includes a commemorative glass.Ticket sales support Snowline Hospice of El Dorado County. Call (880) 306-3956, or go to info@eldoradowines.org to buy tickets and to see a list of the participating wineries.Another El Dorado wine country must do is coming up on the weekends of March 29-30 and April 5-6, which are the annual Passport Weekends. This is usually a sold out affair, so if you are interested you may want to purchase tickets now. Call (880) 306-3956, or go to info@eldoradowines.org to buy tickets. Janice Jones is a Truckee resident and wine consultant. Reach her at sierrafinewines@yahoo.com.


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