A Fall Visit to El Dorado County #CaliforniaWineMonth

Today is the final day of California Wine Month, which is celebrated all month during September every year!

This year, we traveled to Lodi to celebrate with Albarino, we toasted Bogle on their 50th anniversary Petite Sirah from Yolo County, we rejoiced in Grenache from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, and today, we say hooray with a range of wines from El Dorado County.

And I just want to say along with the video below:


Please visit us!

Last year on this fall weekend, the final one for September, I was attending the International Food Bloggers Conference. My trip concluded with an amazing and delicious grand finale: a trip to El Dorado County and an overnight stay at Lucinda’s Country Inn in the FairPlay District.

Here I am sporting a chocolate mustache from Dellorees’s Confections in Placerville at the Farm and Table where we enjoyed a few special bites paired with wines from two El Dorado County wineries, Holly’s Hill and Lava Cap. Also pictured: some of the beautifully plated and wonderfully tasting dishes from our brunch as well as a photo from dinner at Boeger.

During the conference, I stayed at the Residence Inn near the Capital, and on my final night of the trip, I stayed in a beautiful cottage at Lucinda’s Country Inn near Fair Play in the heart of El Dorado wine country surrounded by the sweet lulling sounds of crickets, with a cozy fire in the gas fireplace, and a jacuzzi bathtub! Even the shower offered beautiful views. What a wonderful, tranquil retreat — as you can see from my photos below of my cabin in the woods…

Lucinda’s is a small, intimate bed and breakfast. Unlike other B N B’s that have been adapted to the purpose, Lucinda’s was designed from the beginning — and it is very well designed. Each room has its own character and plenty of privacy and room to spread out and enjoy your stay. Lucinda’s also offers monthly wine dinners and other special events so it is worthwhile joining their email list or Facebook page. Just thinking about this retreat from the hustle and bustle makes me yearn for a return visit!

There’s lots of gold country history on display all year, but in the fall, the more than nearly nearby wineries are bustling with harvest activities, and the rolling hillsides and vistas are gorgeous with a riot of fall color. Just don’t touch the leaves on that pretty red plant — it could be poison oak!

El Dorado County also gave a presentation during the Wine Bloggers’s Conference last November where we learned that during the Gold Rush over 20k acres of vine were planted. In part due to Prohibition, the land was used for other agricultural purposes but today, once again, El Dorado County has 20k acres in vineyards ranging in elevation from 1200-3200. The area appreciates a significant diurnal shift and with the range of elevation, they also can moderate the hot summer termperatures.  During WBC 17 they also hosted a lunch where we all enjoyed El Dorado wines and we were given one to take home which I write about below!

Following the International Food Bloggers Conference, we had a full day in El Dorado County starting with a delicious wine brunch with several winemakers, a progressive tasting through the historic town of Placerville with stops that included olive and chocolates too, lunch with wine of course, and dinner at Boeger where we reveled in the history and the fun, friendly family dynamic.


Originally a gold rush era homestead, the estate became a fruit and nut farm as well as a winery and distillery; a small block of the original Zinfandel still remains and produces fruit to this day. In 1972, Greg and Sue Boeger bought the property in 1972, and the estate became the first modern day (post-Prohibition) winery in the El Dorado AVA. Founder Greg Boeger grew up on his grandfather Anton Nichelini Winery in Napa which was founded in 1890. Today his daughter and son are very active in the winery and in the industry: Justin is lead winemaker and Lexi is director of marketing and communications. Stay tuned — Greg gave me a bottle of his pinot noir which is growing at 3200′!

After a restful and relaxing stay and a tasty breakfast and tour at Lucinda’s, I walked down the country road to Windwalker Winery where I ran into the winemaker on the crush pad and then found the tasting room. Windwalker is one of the oldest vineyards in El Dorado County, and is owned by James and Alanna Taff.

Next I headed over to Mt Aukum — I had tasted their wines the previous day at Boeger and I had heard the views from their tasting room are exceptional so up the mountain I went. It was worth it!

At an elevation of 2615 feet elevation, Mount Aukum’s views include the Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada. Vineyards cling to hillsides of crumbling granite and red dirt called “Holland Series.”

Winemaker Tashia Rynearson continues the legacy of her father-in-law and founding winemaker Michel Prod’hon. Tashia just happened to be pouring and so she gave me a tour of the facility in addition to pouring wine for me. She took over when her father died, and so I wasn’t all that surprised that the property was recently sold to people who had long been visiting and staying at Lucinda’s.

A MENU for fall featuring wine from El Dorado County

As we move into harvest and the days get shorter and cooler, we yearn for earthier, richer foods.

  • Cheese Plate –
    Le Cremeux Kaltbach, Mimolette Isigny, Bellavitano Espresso, Emmi Le Marechal, Cypress Grove Ms. Natural fresh goat milk cheese, Marconna Almonds, assorted green olives
  • Green Salad with heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil
  • Roast carrots, zucchini, and mushroom
  • Instant pot beef shanks with mashed potatoes
  • Dessert – dark chocolate truffle bark with toasted hazelnuts and dried cherries..

Windwalker Vineyard – Fair Play Sunshine Lot 2 – $19
I purchased this wine at the winery with an industry discount.

This viogner and chardonnay blend has a beautiful name and label.

Color:  Very pretty yellow, yellow yellow, but not dark yellow or golden.

Nose: Gardenia, some jasmine, the waxy note that you can pick up from a gardenia, tuber rose, maybe a bit of iris, with a touch of vanilla and caramel, mostly florals.

Palate: Mouthfeel of a chardonnay with the fruit forward appeal of a viognier, the nose is more viognier, and the palate is more chardonnay. Apple and pineapple shine through

Pairing: The fresh goat cheese and bread was very complimentary with this wine. The creamy tartness in the cheese brought out lovely fruit in the wine. Salad, veggies, and this white wine go together so well. So good with the garlic vinegarette in the green salad.


2014 – Chateau Davell – Marguerite – 14.5% alcohol SRP $24
63% Syrah, 37% Grenache
SAMPLE given to me at the Wine Blogger’s Conference.

I am definitely visiting Chateau Davell’s Vineyards next time I am in El Dorado county! Situated at a 1200 foot elevation, above French Creek in Shingle Springs, the property benefits from being surrounded by biodiversity that “serves as a natural immune system for the vineyard and gardens. When combined with organic and biodynamic farming methods, this symbiotic relationship not only eliminates the need for chemical pesticides but supports the vitality of the surrounding ecosystem. Over half of the 12½ acre estate is reserved for garden, habitat, forest and riparian areas with just 5 acres set aside for vineyards.”

We found this wine to be very fun to drink; it can be a cocktail wine, picnic or a campfire wine!

Color: Crimson, ruby red, rich and decadent, with remarkable legs.

Nose: Spicy sweetness, cinnamon, cranberry, red currant, cloves. I found more of the grenache characteristics on the nose rather than Syrah. More red fruit rather than blue fruit, a bit of earthiness as it continues to open.

Palate: This wine really coats your mouth with flavor that bounces around in the palate, and it has a lovely lengthy finish. I found the Grenache forefront on the palate.

Pairing: This wine was quite versatile with food. We did not have cured meat on our cheese plate, but found ourselves thinking that this would be great with them. It went well with most of the cheeses on our plate. My favorite was the espresso cheese. The fresh roasted veggies and the richness of the beef shank combined well.

The 2015 is currently available and has a little mourvedre in the blend!

2015 – Boeger – Barbera – 15% alcohol SRP $20
SAMPLE for my review consideration.

Boeger says that they have been pioneering unique varieties and artisan blends since 1972! It was really fun visiting this historic winery, meeting the family, and tasting in the original tasting room, a room full of fabulous stories. It is not far off Interstate 80 which leads from the Bay Area and Sacramento over the Sierras past Tahoe to Reno making it a very easily accessible winery to thousands of travelers.

Color Beautiful rich pink red, maroon, beautiful and vibrant

Nose: Earth, forest floor, loam, mushroom, or as John likes to say “Barnyard”. Something about the wine really bothered me, but Sue found it to be quite pleasant.

Palate: Very smooth and mild, lots of minerals, and tart fruit. The alcohol is high but the fruit balances it.

Pairing: Barbara is not a mild wine; it is generally high in acidity and needs food to complement it– and it went brilliantly with this meal. It opened up nicely by the time we got to dinner. Gravy with the mushroom and a bit of beef just sings with this wine. Before the meal, I wasn’t that fond of the meal, however with the meal the wine takes it all over the top. The tartness and brightness, cuts through the richness of the meal.

2009 – Mount Aukum winery – Dessert wine – 19.8% alcohol
Purchased at the winery with an industry discount.
60% Zinfandel, 40% Petite Syrah

Color: Dessert wines are not always beautiful colors, but this has a nice coral rim with a beautiful burgundy body.

Nose: You get the alcohol and you get fruit. You don’t always sit and sniff dessert wines. They are generally higher in alcohol which will come through on the nose.

Palate: Very sweet, lots of raisin, tastes like late harvest fruit.

Pairing: This wine went really well with our rich chocolate truffle hazelnut, cherry bark.  We also loved this wine with the fresh fruit on top of goat cheese on a fresh baguette with marcona almonds. What a terrific pair. The tartness of the fruit and cheese went so well with the sweetness of the wine. It would be great over vanilla ice cream!

Instant pot beef shanks

Sue looks at two to five recipes before creating her own. She needs to look mainly for the timing of the instant pot, and to see what others have created before she ventures out on her own. We’ve done a few variations on this theme and so I asked Sue to write down what she did this time!


  • 2 lbs beef shanks
  • 4 oz sliced mushroom
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 2 small shallots minced
  • 1 cup whole cherry tomato- vine ripened is the best. I picked mine from Gwen’s garden.
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 cups  beef broth; beef bouillon used
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 to 4 sprigs of thyme (for grand) 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 to 4 sprigs of rosemary (from garden 2/1 tsp dried
  • 2 to 4 tbs of olive oil ( start with two if needs more as browning add more oil)
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste


  • Saute meat in instant pot remove
  • Saute celery, carrot, shallot, mushroom and garlic
  • Add meat back in the pot and all remaining ingredients.
  • place on high for 45 minutes
  • when finished remove meat and most of the veggies and place on platter.
  • return instant pot setting to saute , bring broth to a boil and add
  • 2 to 4 tbs of cornstarch for thickening mixed with 4 to 8 tbs water.
  • cornstarch and water mixture until broth thickens.

Happy California Wine Month!

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