El Dorado Passport 2014

Vines surrounding Gold Hill Vineyard. Photo copyright 2014, David Locicero

Vines surrounding Gold Hill Vineyard. Photo copyright 2014, David Locicero

And so another El Dorado Passport slips into history. This one was a good one. With 32 participating wineries, it was one of the larger Passports in recent memory. There were a hand full of wineries that were participating for the first time, along with some old regulars.

Passport is the premier wine tasting event for the Sierra Foothills wine region in El Dorado County. It consists of two weekends of wine tasting and food pairings.

This year they dispensed with the Passport fiction, so there was no stamping of little booklets, and I’m assuming, no potential prize for having tasted at wineries in all the different El Dorado regions. But they made up for that by offering special “Library” tastings at each of the wineries for those of us who splurged on the “library card”, in addition to the basic ticket.

The basic tastings were wonderful, 4 to 12 different wines offered up for tasting with some interesting and inspired food pairings. The library card got you access to either older, “library” wines, special vertical tastings, or barrel tastings. I thought that the additional $20 for the library card was worth the money.

I attended during the second weekend of the event. The weather was truly glorious. It was overcast and cool both mornings, but the clouds burned off, the sun came out, and the temperatures hovered around 72 degrees. Perfect tasting weather: warm enough to enjoy the whites, cool enough to enjoy the reds. What more could you want?

Well, if I’m being honest, the “more I could want” would actually be a little bit less. For the past few years the organizers have organized the event around a “theme”. Last year, each winery developed the presentation of their wines around a specific movie. This year each winery developed the presentation around a specific book.

Really? Is this necessary? The “theme”, if one is necessary, should be El Dorado county wines! Focus on the wine. Focus on the differences in altitude and soils. Focus on the types of grapes that grow best in El Dorado county. That is “theme enough”. Trust me!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about some of the wineries I visited during Passport, the wines I tasted (and came home with).

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About dslocicero

David is an author and architect living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes about wine, food and travel. His first book is Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wines, now one of the highest rated books about California Wines.