We had the pleasure of attending the Lake County Wine Adventure two weeks ago, a passport-type food and wine event spread out around Clear Lake, the largest national freshwater lake in California. We always enjoy food and wine events where the participating wineries aren’t too spread out and the event hours provide enough time to relax and enjoy yourself. This year’s Adventure gave us premium wines, delicious food, and hot-summer-by-the-lake weather.
Over the weekend, we particularly enjoyed Sauvignon Blancs (from five different wineries) and other white wines made from varietals such as Grenache Blanc, Moscato and Pinot Grigio. Our favorite red wines included Aglianico, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel (as well as several intriguing red wine blends).
No, we didn’t make it to all 28 of the wineries participating in the Wine Adventure but we did find plenty of wines (and wineries) worth recommending if you’d like to explore Lake County’s offerings on your own. We encourage you to visit the area and/or seek out these wines and wineries at your local wine stores and/or restaurants.
Favorites at 2014 Lake County Wine Adventure
These were our favorite wines at this year’s Wine Adventure:
- Brassfield Estate Winery – 2013 Moscato, 2012 Eruption (Syrah, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah)
- Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill – 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (the conventional version, not the organic SB), 2011 Highlander (Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc), 2011 Petite Sirah
- Fore Family Vineyards – 2013 Grenache Blanc
- Gregory Graham Wines – 2010 Grenache, 2010 Cinder Cone Reserve (Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Grenache)
- Langtry Estate & Vineyards – 2013 Langtry Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Guenoc North Coast Victorian Claret (Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec)
- Moore Family Winery – 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 2011”Wildfire” Zinfandel, 2009 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
- Robledo Family Winery – 2012 Pinot Grigio, 2008 El Rey (Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Rosa d’Oro Vineyards – 2011 Aglianico, 2012 Barbera, 2012 Montepulciano, 2012 Refosco, 2011 Trigrammaton (Carménère, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc)
- Vigilance Winery & Vineyards – 2012 Sauvignon Blanc
- Wildhurst Vineyards – 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
A major appeal of each year’s Lake County Wine Adventure is the variety of food served to Adventure-ers, offering plentiful amounts of fruit, vegetables, cheeses, meats, and desserts. On the “healthy” end of the scale were fruits and vegetables, led up by the Fresh Fruit with Balsamic, Honey, and Black Pepper at Langtry Estate & Vineyards. We also enjoyed the miscellaneous vegetables and olives and delicious Dilly Beans at Wildhurst Vineyards, as well as the Red Pepper Crostini at Rosa d’Oro Vineyards.
For heartier fare, we enjoyed a “Jambon et Fromage” sandwich at Brassfield Estate Winery, a Lamb Pita with Pistachio Mint Pesto and Citrus Yogurt Drizzle at Vigilance Winery & Vineyards, and a Bacon Burger with Caramelized Onions and Baconnaise at Gregory Graham Wines. We also found tasty Carnitas Tacos served up at four different wineries. Our favorite desserts at this year’s Wine Adventure were the Chocolate Chip Cookies at Rosa d’Oro Vineyards and the Cheesecake with Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Peaches at Moore Family Winery.
We had two personal favorites for wine-and-food pairing combinations this year and for white wines it was how well Vigilance Winery & Vineyards’ Sauvignon Blanc went with Lime and Honey Marinated Grilled Pineapple with Cream Cheese Sauce and Coconut. On the red wine side, we were most impressed at the interplay between the flavor nuances of the varietals in Langtry Estate & Vineyards’ North Coast Victorian Claret and the savory components of their Meatballs & Marinara (prepared by Bellissimo! Wine Country Catering).
Lake County Events: Coming Up
Sponsored by the Lake County Winery Association, the Lake County Wine Adventure is an excellent way to discover the County’s unique and distinct rural attributes, including its wineries. If you’re looking for an upcoming event to base your own adventure around, please consider one of these upcoming activities:
Taste of Lakeport (August 23) – This summer street party (5:00 – 8:00 pm) has been bringing fine wine, food, and music (and dancing) to party-goers for 18 years. One ticket offers everything, including unlimited tastings from up to 20 wineries and 20 restaurants.
Lake County Wine Auction (September 20) – Starting at 4:00 pm, the Auction evening includes Wine and Food Tastings, a 3-Course Dinner, Silent and Live Auctions, and Dancing. Five high schools, eight youth-oriented programs and ten other Lake County nonprofit organizations have been selected as beneficiaries of this year’s Wine Auction.
During the Tastings, over 20 wineries will be participating, including most of our favorite wineries from the Lake County Wine Adventure. Food participants include Bellissimo! Wine Country Catering, Chalerm Thai Bistro and Saw Shop Gallery Bistro. The Three Course Dinner will be prepared by Chef Nicholas Catering, Chic Le Chef and Main Street Bakery. This year’s band is Funky Dozen whose musicians and singers create a beautiful sound of funk, soul, and dance-ability with a focus on favorites from the 1970s.
Kelseyville Pear Festival (September 26) – Exactly what it sounds like, the family-friendly festival includes a Parade (starting at 9:30 am) with a Festival Prince and Princess, a Cooking Competition, a Packing Competition, Food and Music, a Horse Faire and there’s even an Antique Tractor Exhibit.
During the entire month of September, local restaurants and other food purveyors will also feature menu items incorporating “the pear,” including Pear Cookies at Main Street Bakery; Packard Sandwich with Pear, Italian Pork, and Havarti Cheese at Studebakers Deli; Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts, Gorgonzola, and Mixed Greens at Riviera Hills Restaurant; Pear, Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Flat Bread Pizza at Saw Shop Gallery Bistro; and a Pear & Ginger Crisp at Park Place Restaurant. For the complete list of “Restaurant Pearings” please go here.
Falling Leaves Quilt Show (October 4 & 5) – A display of over 200 beautiful quilts plus demonstrations, vendors, door prizes, a silent auction and a “Country Store” from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday. Many of the quilts have been submitted for Judging, with awards recognizing the craftsmanship of Traditional Quilts while also rewarding achievements in Art Quilts and Innovative Quilts.
If you didn’t already know, Lake County is a great destination for a wine tasting excursion, especially if you like pretty scenery. This is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the State, with over 35 wineries, almost 9,000 acres planted with grapes, and seven distinct AVAs (Benmore Valley, Big Valley, Clear Lake, Guenoc Valley, High Valley, Kelsey Bench, and Red Hills). Whether you use our suggestions for your trip’s framework or you just create an itinerary on your own, we’re sure you’ll find a trip here worthwhile.