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Foodies and wine aficionados will converge in South Lake Tahoe, California for the 2nd Annual Sample the Sierra, Sunday, September 4 (Labor Day weekend), noon to 5 p.m.   “Sample the Sierra is a fun, festive event, but with a significant initiative,” said B Gorman, President and CEO of the TahoeChamber.org and head of the organization producing Sample the Sierra. “Our goal is to expand upon the farm-to-fork movement, introducing local residents and visitors to locally sourced ingredients and products, as well as building alliances between South Lake Tahoe restaurateurs and El Dorado County growers and wineries.”
According to Gorman, the event is a result of an El Dorado County grant that is providing TahoeChamber.org with an opportunity to collaborate with area businesses and invest in the health of the community – all while providing the freshest, best tasting ingredients to the consumer.
Black Bear Inn, a participant in the inaugural event last year and back for 2011, offers up luxurious accommodations in a rustic-lodge setting, as well as a restaurant open to the public with menus that emphasize seasonal, organic and local elements.
“El Dorado County is a bounty for locally grown food,” said Chef Alex Elsaesser of the Black Bear Inn. “As a chef, the bottom line is that local food just plain tastes better. It also means cooking with the seasons; experiencing products at their peak taste because they have longer to ripen and are the most abundant.”
According to Gorman, there is also an economic factor in play.
“A dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. When businesses are purchasing ingredients not owned locally, more money leaves the community at every transaction. Environmentally, eating locally is also a win as it improves air quality and cuts down on pollution because food isn’t traveling hundreds of miles to its end destination, here in South Lake Tahoe.”
Another vendor back for the 2011 event is Jodar Vineyards & Winery, a small family-owned winery located in the Sierra Foothills of El Dorado County at an elevation of 2,400 feet. The vineyard’s original plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay produce about 5,000 cases of wine annually.
In 1995 a world-class Port joined the Estate Bottled lineup, with Zinfandel added to production in 1997 and Sangiovese in 1999. In 2001 Jodar’s first Bordeaux blend was produced, “Apollo’s Lyre,” which earned an international Double Gold Medal, followed by Gold Medal-winning Barbera and Cab Franc.
“Our wine speaks for itself,” said Lisa Scott of Jodar Vineyards & Winery. “It is absolutely exceptional, but as a small winery distribution can be challenging and expensive. Sample the Sierra gives us the chance to get our stellar varietals into the hands of the general wine buying public, as well as South Lake Tahoe restaurateurs interested in providing patrons with quality regional wines.
Sample the Sierra will be held on Ski Run Boulevard in California, with public parking on the street. Event officials are also encouraging attendees to travel green to Sample the Sierra by walking or biking from their lodging or taking public transportation via BlueGo, www.BlueGo.org, South Lake Tahoe’s public transit system.
Tickets are $25/person and include admission, food and wine, as well as a $5/person admission ticket with the option to purchase dishes from the food booth provided by the Boys & Girls Club. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.SampletheSierra.com or in person at the event via cash or credit card.
Festivalgoers will enjoy approximately 30 vendors, from South Lake Tahoe restaurants to El Dorado County-based wineries and growers, as well as live music, art activities, marketplace and art on display from local artisans. This is a great family event and is expected to draw 2,000 people in its second year.
Sample the Sierra is sponsored by media partners: K-Tahoe Radio, Lake Tahoe TV, Tahoe Daily Tribune, Tahoe Arts & Mountain Culture, KRLT/KOWL, Sierra Heritage Magazine and Getaway Reno/Tahoe. The South Lake Tahoe Endowment is the event Wine Glass Sponsor, Weldon W. Wulstein Financial is the Napkin Sponsor and South Tahoe Refuse is the Sierra Stage Sponsor.
For more information about Sample the Sierra, a list of participating vendors, map to the event, along with local lodging options, click to the event’s official website at www.SampletheSierra.com. Sponsorship and vendor opportunities are also available.

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