Dinner at Skinner: Skinner Vineyards, which is tucked among the high-altitude vineyards of Somerset, has transformed into one of El Dorado Countys star wineries over the past few years.
A chunk of that credit goes to Chris Pittenger, who was hired in 2007 to oversee Skinners wine operations. His résumé included four vintages as an apprentice with Marcassin Vineyard, a revered boutique winery in Sonoma thats run by Helen Turley, along with stints at Williams-Selyem of Healdsburg.
At Skinner, Pittenger brings an especially elegant and pinot noir-ish approach to the Sierra Foothills Rhone-style varietals. The San Francisco Chronicle named Pittenger as a winemaker to watch in February. The Chronicle also listed the Skinner 2010 El Dorado Grenache among its Top 100 wines of 2012, noting that Pittenger continues to show the beauty of the foothills at this upstart label.
Skinners wines pair especially well with food, given their depth of flavor and minerality, and they found an early supporter at Ella Dining Room & Bar in Sacramento.
On Saturday, Skinner and Ella will join forces for a winemaker dinner at Skinner Vineyards, 8054 Fairplay Road, Somerset, featuring seasonal ingredients and wine pairings to match the summer flavors. Tickets cost $125 each and include dinner, wine and tax. For more information: (530) 620-2220.
Stock the pantry
Some cheese, please: The Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg remains a hot spot for wine-related events during these warm months. So far, the tasting facility for 10 wineries has hosted a food truck roundup, a pig roast and bacon festival, and a Cinco de Mayo throwdown, among other events.
Next up, youll find the annual Wine Cheese & Bread Faire on Aug. 3-4. Along with an assortment of artisanal cheeses, the event features olive oils, chocolates, coffees and other items needed for any well-stocked gourmet pantry. This years installment includes a grilled-cheese sandwich competition among local chefs.
Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
They include wine tasting, cheese education seminars and more. The Old Sugar Mill is at 35265 Willow Ave., Clarksburg. Information: (916) 744-1615, www.oldsugarmill.com.
Call The Bees Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. On Twitter @chris_macias.