In two weeks, Lake Tahoe — about 185 miles east of San Francisco — will be celebrating harvest and all of its seasonal influences during the 26th annual Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival.
The Sept. 9-11 event at the Village at Northstar in Truckee will usher in a crisp change in weather and turning of leaves and feature fun-filled, family-friendly events that include live music, great food, libations and a growing crowd of regulars.
Tahoe grape stomp (Sept. 9)
This year’s festival will kick off Friday at noon with the eighth annual Village grape stomp and vineyard luncheon. Here, costumed teams compete in stomping fresh-from-the-vineyard grapes to see who can extract the most juice.
Team entry fees — $200 for four participants — include grape stomping, wine-and-beer tasting and a gourmet, alfresco lunch. For those not wanting to get their feet dirty, lunch-and-beer tasting tickets are $40 per person. Note: Visitors must be 21 to participate in the grape stomp and/or the wine-and-beer tasting; however, children are welcome to come for lunch and watch the stomp.
Free outdoor seminars (Sept. 10)
On Saturday, the festival will host several free culinary programs throughout the Village. Highlights include:
- 11 a.m.: Outdoor grilling seminar with Mark Estee of Truckee-based Moody’s Bistro & Lounge.
- Noon to 2:30 p.m.: Free children’s activities, such as cupcake decorating, face painting, stilt walkers and balloon sculptures.
- 12:15 p.m.: “Cookin’ Hard Rock Style” with Jason Gronlundof of Hard Rock Cafe International.
- 2:45 p.m.: “Cuisine Unique” cooking demo with Douglas Dale of Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique of Tahoe City.
- Noon to 6 p.m.: At the Gourmet Marketplace Trade Fair — free and open to the public at the Village’s ice skating rink — festival-goers can sample olive oils, tapenades, olives and vinegars — as well as check out artisan jewelry, photography exhibits and the North Tahoe Plein Air Art Show.
Ticketed events (Sept. 10)
Several events on Saturday require tickets, which can be purchased in advance at www.gotahoenorth.com/events/autumn-food-and-wine-festival. (Note: Each event requires one ticket per person.)
- Noon to 4 p.m., $25: Gourmet Marketplace wine-and-brew walk, an event featuring several wines from Lake and Santa Cruz counties, as well as Belgian-style ales.
- 12:30 p.m., $60: The Chocolate Bar Restaurant will host “Covered in Chocolate,” a workshop on making chocolate fondue. The event ticket includes two chocolate martinis, hot chocolate and chocolate mousse.
- 1:30, $45: “Some Like It Hot” barbecue-and-wine workshop, which will be hosted by Lars Kronmark of Napa’s Culinary Institute of America.
- 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., $10: A family-friendly, hands-on Thai spring roll class for young chefs who are at least 9 years old.
- 2:45 p.m., $40: Lake County appellation wine tasting.
- 3 p.m., $65: Pride Mountain Winery wine tasting.
- 4 p.m., $65: Santa Cruz Mountains pinot noir and Fiscalini Farms cheese tasting.
- 4 p.m., $15: “Blazing Pans” chef cook off; ticket-holders to this “Iron Chef”-style event are encouraged to dress up in costume, bring noisemakers and enjoy Charbay cocktails.
- 5:45 p.m., $65: Charbay Whiskey release party.
Harvest dinner at Manzanita (Sept. 9-11)
San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardins’ Lake Tahoe restaurant Manzanita — located in the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe at Northstar — is offering a special four-course menu to celebrate harvest with the area’s seasonal influences. Throughout the weekend, Manzanita’s new chef, Jacob Ramos, will be preparing a special dinner menu for $85 per person, or $125 with wine pairing.
Festival final (Sept. 11)
The festival will conclude Sunday with a culinary competition among 30 of Lake Tahoe’s restaurants, caterers and chefs — and a grand tasting. Tickets are $75 per person through Sept. 9, or $90 person at the door.
Hotel accommodations In the village
Starting at $229 per night
Tahoe Mountain Resorts — the luxury, second-floor units overlooking the Village at Northstar — are offering overnight accommodations during the Tahoe Food and Wine Festival starting at $229 per night. In terms of convenience, these high-end condos are footsteps away from the festival, which will be held primarily in near the skating rink in the center of Northstar’s village. For more information, visit www.tahoemountainlodging.com.
Starting at $299 per night
The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe — a full-service, luxury ski-and-spa resort — is offering rooms starting at $299 per night during the festival weekend. In addition to chef Traci Des Jardins’ excellent restaurant Manzanita, the resort also features an enormous spa that includes 16 treatment rooms, a large fitness center, a heated co-ed spa and lap pool overlooking the mountains. For more information, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/LakeTahoe.
— Kathleen Jay
By the numbers
26 Years Tahoe Food and Wine Festival has been held
30 Chefs participating in the festival’s culinary competition
185 Miles from San Francisco to Northstar in Truckee