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Steiner 'Wine & Spoon' first thumbs up for the new year in Amador County

The well known Amador wine country has delivered its first thumbs up event for 2014 with the Jan. 18 "Wine & Spoon" event. On Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and, for some stragglers tipping the clock and the glass a bit past event end, visitors made nine Steiner Road wineries their focal point.

Susan Raines
BellaGrace cave on Steiner Rd.
Susan Raines

People from many local regions from Sacramento, Folsom, Amador County, and the bay area spent their day tasting "new releases and Amador Classics" accompanied by bites, spoonfuls and little bowls of complimentary and, as usual, delicious food. Highest thumbs up for the food goes to Renwood now saluting their new chef, Carolyn Kumpe, of a mere two weeks. Kumpe created some of the most delightfully light and tasty grilled cheese sandwiches that were nearly irresistible. The grilled Teleme cheese on brioche with Viognier apricot grained mustard was a hit with the subtle sweetness of the apricot blending divinely with the cheese, brioche and mustard. Uh-uh-yum!

The Renwood grilled cheese was accompanied by another delight with small bowls of butternut squash soup made sublime with a cranberry hibiscus coulis on top. The wines suggested for pairing fulfilled the expectation of Renwood quality. The serving bar was packed, the patio filled with guitar and voice of musician John Pless with guests relaxing in comfortable chairs as they sampled the wines and bites.

The unusually warm day was bright and sunny and, although not so ideal for a state hungry for rain, perfect for touring the Steiner route and sitting outdoors at destinations like BellaGrace. Some of the most pleasant, patient and charming servers can typically be found at the Steiner location of BellaGrace. Interesting details about vineyards and wine were shared with visitors who queried the servers. Cover crops and how they are grown and then tilled into the earth to naturally add nitrogen rather than relying solely on artificial fertilizers was explained giving reference to the alfalfa, string beans and clover that are often utilized.

The BellaGrace cave is located on Steiner Road while their wine tasting room is located in Sutter Creek on Main Street with a vineyard on Upton Road in Plymouth. Tours of the cave were kindly provided by Charlie Havill while Michael Havill served up some yummy chili to round out the wine tasting of delicious Old Vine, Barbera, and Zinfandel along with a few delightful whites.

The Steiner wine tasting route continued to call in visitors to the four D's with Deaver, Dobra, Dillian and Driven. Wine poured, tongues tasted, lips licked and smiles were guaranteed as the "Wine & Spoon" event enchanted with their classics and new releases as well as savory and sweet bites. Driven Cellars greeted guests with great personality as Rudy Chinco manned the front table with genuine down-to-earth charm and friendliness. At event end he even offered a quick tour of the area to show off the many antique pieces of equipment found hidden around the perimeter of the tasting room. The Chinco collection of oldies goes beyond the old cars, truck, and farming equipment lining the driveway; pumps, refrigerators, wheels and more may delight the eyes of those who love such classics.

Driven Cellars upholds a philosophy of "preserving our natural resources" and their tasting room is primarily constructed from an old 1950's California State Fair building. They even use a "large collection system that stores winter rainwater" for their drip irrigation system. Their conservation efforts are to be applauded and only make their great Amador wines all that much more excellent.

Amador Foothill Winery, Charles Spinetta Winery, and Shenandoah Vineyards completed the nine destination points for the Steiner Road "Wine & Spoon" event. At each stop visitors could easily find at least one and, more often, multiple favorites among the dozens of fine wines offered for sampling throughout the day. Its was a successful first thumbs up event in Jan. 2014 giving hints of more delights to come as the "Behind The Cellar Door" premium event approaches in early March. The Amador Vintners Association participants continue to offer great wine along with great charm in a manner that draws repeat visitors and buyers event after event and year after year.

Other articles by Susan Raines relating to Amador Wine Country include the following.

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