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Eleven Placer County Wineries Awarded in World’s Largest Competition of American Wines

Vintners Honored with 45 Awards Including Two Best of Class and One Double Gold


AUBURN, CA January 20, 2016 – Vintners from Placer County are raising a glass to celebrate their success at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This year, 11 wineries brought home a total of 45 awards from the world’s largest competition of American wines, including two Best of Class awards for Loomis-based Le Casque and one Double Gold for Auburn’s Viña Castellano. Overall, Placer County wines secured nine gold, 24 silver and 12 bronze medals at the competition.

“We founded Le Casque with a singular goal: to produce small lots of wine from the absolute best vineyard sources in Placer County and the surrounding Sierra Foothills area,” said Kevin Stevenson, Owner of Le Casque. “This year’s competition was intense, and we are proud to have produced a collection of top-tier wines that stand out to the nation’s most discerning wine experts.”

Participation in this year’s competition yielded significant returns for Le Casque, with its 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Sergent Port each awarded Best in Class while two other vintages garnered silver medals. Viña Castellano, whose Tempranillo earned Best of Class in last year’s competition, gained a Double Gold award for its 2012 Mourvedre this year, along with four silver medals.

Having received a record breaking 7,000 entries from more than 1,500 wineries, judges in this year’s competition faced a challenging decision in each category. The panel included 80 wine experts within the media, trade, hospitality and education industries.

The full list of 2016 San Francisco Chronicle wine competition winners from Placer County includes:
• Le Casque: Two Best of Class and two Silver medals
• Viña Castellano: One Double Gold and four Silver medals
• Wise Villa Winery: Four Silver, five Gold and three Bronze medals

• Mt. Vernon Winery: Five Silver and 2 Bronze medals
• Popie: Three Silver and one Bronze medal
• Secret Ravine: Two Bronze and one Silver medal
• Lone Buffalo Vineyards: Two Bronze and one Silver medal
• Fawnridge Winery: One Silver, one Gold and one Bronze medal
• Dono dal Cielo: Two Silver medals
• Pescatore Vineyard and Winery: One Bronze medal
• Bear River Winery: One Silver medal

Placer County Wine Trail is home to 20 Placer County wineries that expand throughout the foothills and are easily accessible from I-80 and Highway 49. For a complete list of participating wineries, venue details and directions, please visit

Enjoy a “Day on the Farm” at Sinclair Family Farm in Newcastle

Visit June 8th for a Day of Outdoor Fun, Animal Exhibits and Seasonal Sierra Foothill Products


Take it outdoors for a family-friendly “Day on the Farm”! Placer County’s Sinclair Family Farm invites residents and visitors to explore the beauty of the farm while learning about its programs. Activities are free and will be held on Sunday, June 8th from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Sinclair Family Farm in Newcastle. At the event, guests can watch hourly sheepdog demonstrations, learn about sheep shearing and wool spinning, and view animal exhibits including cattle, sheep and pigs.

In addition, Sierra Foothill producers will be on site selling wool, sheep handling equipment,honey, and seasonal fruit and vegetables. 4-H Club and Future Farmers of America (FFA) members will also be on hand to talk about upcoming regional fairs.

“We invite folks to spend a Sunday afternoon outdoors at our Day on the Farm event,”says Karin Sinclair, Sinclair Family Farm owner and president of Gold County Sheep Producers. “This will be a fun time to socialize with Placer County producers, enjoy sheepdog demonstrations, and take home some delicious, local products.”

Sinclair Family Farm raises naturally-grown, pasture-raised beef, lamb, pork, and poultry, as well as eggs, figs, blackberries, pears, persimmons and more. The farm also sells their products to local stores like Blue Goose in Loomis and Newcastle Produce in Newcastle.

“Our farmers share a passion for producing high-quality, local food, and we want everyone to enjoy all they offer,” says Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Josh Huntsinger. “This is the perfect event for people to learn more about Placer County farms and enjoy a beautiful day of outdoor activities.”

The Sinclair Family Farm is located at 641 Lozanos Rd. in Newcastle, California. To learn more about the farm, visit

Enjoy fun & games at a Valentine’s wine tasting weekend

Placer County Wine Trail to host “Valentine’s Sweets, Treats and Trivia” event at 19 wineries in the Placer County foothills 


Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to end Friday night.  Extend the celebration to Saturday and join in on the romantic fun at the Placer County Wine Trail “Valentine’s Sweets, Treats and Trivia”event Saturday, February 15th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The special event will feature wine tasting, sweet and savory treat tasting and a romantic trivia game at 19 wineries on the Placer County Wine Trail.  Tickets are $25 per couple, or $15 per person, and can be purchased at

When: Saturday, February 15thfrom 11:00 am to 5:00 pm

Where: Placer County Wine Trail -Auburn, Lincoln, Loomis, Newcastle & Meadow Vista

What: 19 wineries on the Placer County Wine Trail to host “Valentine’s Sweets, Treats and Trivia” event for couples and singles alike.

Event highlights include:

Green Family Winery: Featuring black cherry brownies with Port wine and other healthy snacks.

Lone Buffalo Vineyards: Take a chocolate and wine tasting journey with pairings from Newcastle Chocolatier Raffiné Artisan Chocolates. The winery’s Pawny Tawny Port (Placer County’s only “tawny port”) will also be on the bar.

Secret Ravine Vineyards: Enjoy sweets and treats as well as sweetheart deals on the vineyard’s 2008 Syrah and 2010 Rattlesnake Red.

River Rock Ranch Lindemann Winery will be serving mixed chocolates and various cheeses, gourmet cupcakes and chocolates.

Davis Dean Cellars will be presenting locally made dark chocolate cherry truffles and featuring a pairing of its2010 Willow’s Reserve Zinfandel (90% Zin/ 10% Petite Sirah).

PaZa Wines will offer tempting treats from Trish’s Truffles, featuring chocolatier creations such as milk chocolate peanut butter truffles, and white chocolate cookie truffles.

Dono dal Cielo will offer a Bridge Brands Chocolate tasting and will feature live music by Two Barrels Shy from 2:00 –5:00 pm.

Viña Castellano will feature swan flan & chocolates plus a special aphrodisiac treat with your trivia. The winery will also sample its 2008 SF Chronicle Best of Class Tempranillo for the first time.

Mt. Vernon Winery will be serving fudge and hors d’oeuvres.

Ciotti Cellars will be releasing its new Chocolate Porto with assorted with assorted gourmet cupcakes and chocolates.

For a complete list of participating wineries, venue details and directions please visit

It’s all in the family at Saeng’s Strawberry Stand

Granite Bay Grower Knows His Berries


Saengzun Zeux knows his strawberries. The Laos- born Granite Bay resident is the owner of Saeng’s strawberry stand located at the corner of Douglas Boulevard and Barton Road in Granite Bay. Zeux has been selling strawberries at the Barton Road location for the past 15 years. He and his family moved to Granite Bay from Sacramento a few years ago.

“I really like it here,” Zeux said. “The people who come to my stand are so nice. I have lots of repeat customers and when they come in they always tell me how much they like the berries and that makes me feel so good. That’s why I’m here. I want to grow the best berries for all my customers.”

For Zeux, it’s a family affair. His wife, four children and various relatives all work in a field located down the street from the stand on about five acres at Otow Orchards in Granite Bay. They begin work in the field before the sun comes up. Once their buckets are full of berries, Zeux and his crew return to the strawberry stand to sell the bounty of their hard labor. Zeux needs all the help he can get as running the seasonal strawberry stand is not his only job.

“Besides growing and selling strawberries, I am a teacher’s aide at the Sacramento Unified School District,” he said. “I’m so thankful that my family is here to help during the strawberry season.”

Zeux’s 28-year-old son, David, helps out when he can between his job at the state of California as an analyst and his schooling at California State University Sacramento.

“I know how busy my parents are being farmers,” David said. “They have always been supportive of me, so I like to help them. When I am able to come here and work it helps to bring us all together as a family.”

Zeux is proud of the product he sells at his Granite Bay stand. In order to produce the best berry his customers will enjoy, Zeux said he spends countless hours researching the amount of water the plants should receive, the type of berry to plant as well as the amount of space each seedling needs for optimum growth.

“We planted two types of fruit back in August,” Zeux said. “Right now we are selling Seascape berries and in a few months the Chandler berry will be ready for picking.”

Most people may not recognize the difference between the two berry varieties, Zeux does.

“The Chandler is juicer,” he said. “But many of our customers prefer the Seascape.”

Zeux also said the size of the berry is determined by the weather. Cooler spring temperatures produce larger fruit while hot summer days tend to produce smaller strawberries.

“When it is really hot, it is not good for the berries,” he said. “When that happens, we are out in the fields trying to place as many berries as we can underneath the leaves to protect the fruit.”

Saeng’s strawberry stand isn’t the only place to buy PlacerGROWN strawberries. Josh Huntsinger, Placer County agricultural commissioner, said there are dozens of strawberry farmers located from Foresthill all the way south to Roseville.

“Placer County is home to about 35 acres of strawberry production, consisting primarily of one- to four-acre plots throughout the western portion of the county,” Huntsinger said. “Lincoln, Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn and Loomis all have multiple strawberry stands similar to Saeng’s. “When you buy strawberries or any other type of crop from a PlacerGROWN farmer you not only will enjoy the freshest products, but you’ll develop an appreciation for the farmer who grows the food and understand their passion for their work. Making sure every product they sell is top quality is their number one priority.”


Join the fun at Holidays in the Hills—A win-win wine event

17 Placer County wineries host annual event offering free wine tasting and holiday festivities with toy donation


Holidays in the Hills, an annual winery event benefiting the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, takes place this December 8thand 9th.  The event is hosted from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days by 17 Placer County Vintners Association wineries.  Event guests will enjoy free wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres at several locations, live music, and discounts on purchases in exchange for a toy donation for a child in need.  All participants will also have the chance to win a free case of assorted Placer county wines.

Holidays in the Hills will feature a variety of activities at each winery:

  • Bonitata Boutique Wine: In addition to wine tasting, stop by Bonitata Boutique Wine for a festive holiday atmosphere and chocolate treats.
  • Casque Wines: Visitors will enjoy food and wine pairings throughout the weekend at the winery’s brand-new tasting room along with complimentary logo gifts with wine purchases.
  • Dono dal Cielo:Dono dal Cielo is offering guests wine tasting throughout the weekend in addition to Monte Vista Ranch Olive Oil tastings and a kid’s corner with fun activities. Guests will also enjoy live music on Saturday from 2 –5pm.
  • Fawnridge Winery:Guests will enjoy wine and barrel tasting, a 10 percent discount on wine purchases during the event as well as the opportunity to do caricature portraits.
  • Green Family Winery: In addition to free wine tasting, attendees will enjoy Christmas music and heart healthy snacks. The first 50 guests will also receive a free Green Family wine glass.
  • Lone Buffalo Vineyards: Stop by Lone Buffalo Vineyards for free wine and barrel tastings, a sampling of its limited production release of 2010 Bison Heart Petite Sirah, and Nothing Bundt Cakes “bundtinis.”
  • Vernon Winery: In addition to wine and barrel tastings, guests will want to make room for hors d’oeuvres.
  • PaZa Wines:PaZa will feature pizza from Bella Familia Wood Fired Pizza paired with its Estate Barbera and Primitivo wines. In addition, the winery will offer live acoustic music and a 20 percent discount on all wine purchases.
  • Pescatore Vineyard & Winery: At Pescatore guests will enjoy free wine tasting, spiced cider for designated drivers, beautiful gourd art by local artist Robin Gray and “It’s a Small World” Christmas treats.
  • Rock Hill Winery: Here attendees will enjoy wine and barrel tastings paired with hors d’oeuvres.
  • Secret Ravine Vineyards: Visitors will taste several new Secret Ravine Vineyards wines paired with complementary appetizers. As a fun convenience for guests, the winery will also have wine-themed holiday gifts available for purchase.
  • Wise Villa Winery will get guests in the holiday spirit with a magical 20 foot Christmas tree on display, free wine tastings, live music and hors d’oeuvres.

Local wine tasting and blues event taking over Fountains at Roseville

Summer Wine Stroll Will Give Attendees a Taste of Award-Winning Wines


ROSEVILLE, Calif., July 21, 2012 —Award-winning wines from the heart of Placer County will be showcased at this year’s Summer Wine Stroll presented by the Placer County Vintners Association in collaboration with Fountains at Roseville. This wine and food tasting event will feature more than40 Placer County wines from 18 regional wineries paired with delectable fare prepared by chefs from several Fountains’ restaurants. Guests will also enjoy the soulful and melodic tones of famed Blues Band Johnny O and the F.O.B.’s featuring Connor James while they peruse the works of celebrated area artists and artisans.

Tickets to the event are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. VIP tickets that include exclusive seating are available for $35. To purchase tickets or to learn more information about this event please visit the Placer County Vintners Association

WHO: Placer County Vintners Association

WHAT: Summer Wine Stroll, tasting event and Blues concert

WHEN: Saturday, July 21, 2012 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Fountains at Roseville, located at Roseville Parkway and Galleria Boulevard, Roseville, CA

WHY: To celebrate Placer County award-winning wines

Make a Toast to Toys for Tots at Holidays in the Hills

20 Placer County Wineries offer free wine tasting with toy donation


AUBURN, CA December 1, 2015 – Placer County Vintners Association and Placer County Wine Trail members host the 6th annual Holidays in the Hills event to benefit the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. During the first weekend of December, twenty Placer County wineries will offer tastings of award-winning, PlacerGROWN wines to those who donate an unwrapped toy to be distributed via the foundation to a child in need.

“Our crop-to-tabletop lifestyle extends beyond providing farm-fresh ingredients to the family dinner table,” said PlacerGROWN Executive Director Carol Arnold. “Our overall goal is to contribute to the success of a stronger and healthier community, and the holiday season is the perfect time for a heartwarming effort such as this.”

For the past six years, participating wineries have helped establish Holidays in the Hills as one of the most successful Toys for Tots events in Placer County. The respected community of local wine growers has demonstrated its generosity each year by offering free admission and wine tastings with the donation of a new, unwrapped child’s toy valued at ten dollars or more.

“Our generous community always shows its support by making Holidays in the Hills one of the highest donation events for Marine Toys for Tots Foundation every year,” said Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Josh Huntsinger. “It’s inspiring to see the turnout and know that each person who participates also represents a child’s holiday wish coming true.”

This year’s event takes place on December 5 and 6, with participating wineries open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days. Event attendees can meet with winemakers, vintners and other wine enthusiasts to taste artisan varietals and support less fortunate children in the area. Guests will be able to savor hors d’oeuvres, live music and winery tours while also enjoying unique activities at each of the participating venues.

For a complete list of participating wineries, venue details and directions, please visit To reserve a PlacerGROWN media pass for complimentary entrance to the event, please contact Brenda Forman at

Make plans to attend celebrate PlacerGrown Week—OCT. 11-18

Family-Friendly Events Offer Farm-to-Fork Fun and Award-winning Wines


AUBURN, Calif., Sept. 3, 2014—The third annual Celebrate PlacerGROWN Week, October 11th through the 18th, will showcase the more than 100 family
farms, 20 Placer County Wine Trail wineries and 9 farmers’ markets in the Placer County region. Families should mark their calendars for family-

“This is the best opportunity throughout the year to experience the Placer County region’s abundance of farm-fresh food and wine,” notes PlacerGROWN Executive Director Carol Arnold. “It’s a great way to meet local farmers and ranchers, and experience unique Placer County activities firsthand.”

“The Placer County Board of Supervisors proclaimed Celebrate PlacerGROWN Week in 2012 and the commemorative week has since grown in scope and popularity,” said Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Josh Huntsinger. “We look forward to welcoming back families and friends to join in the celebration.”

PlacerGROWN Farm & Barn Tour: Sunday, Oct. 12th from 1 p.m.– 5 p.m.
Take part in a free, self-guided tour that includes farms, ranches and vineyards, all spanning the beautiful Placer County countryside. Visit for details.

PlacerGROWN Harvest Festival: Saturday, Oct. 18th from 11 a.m.– 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 19th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin.
This family-friendly fest includes a pumpkin patch, scarecrow-building contest, farmers’ market, free family movie at dusk and more. Visit for

Placer County Farm Bureau Hoe Down: Saturday, Oct. 18th with dinner held at 6:30 p.m.
The 25th annual event includes dinner and a live auction benefitting agricultural students. Call 916-663-2929 for tickets and more information.

Mandarin season is a sweet delight in Placer County


AUBURN, Calif., December 3, 2014—Mandarin season is one of the tastiest parts of winter in Northern California, and this year’s crop is no exception. The first and third weekends of December, the Mountain Mandarin Growers’ Association (MMGA) invites visitors to its ranches for Orchard Days, a free two-weekend event celebrating mandarins with freshly-picked fruit, mandarin products, wine tasting, crafters and family fun.

Mandarin growers are partnering with local vendors and artists for the annual event. Attendees will enjoy mandarin product sampling and spectacular views of gardens, ponds, orchards and the countryside. Various holiday gifts, plus bags and boxes of tree-ripened, hand-picked mandarins will be available for purchase, as well as mandarin-infused products like olive oils, marinades, honey and more. Visitors with a sweet tooth will enjoy fudge, cookies and cakes.

The fruit produced by MMGA members is picked only when fully ripe to ensure sweetness and freshness. Cultivating mandarin trees has been a tradition in the Placer County region since the 1880s, and has been carried on by families in the area, who have provided tree-ripened, hand- picked mandarins to Placer County and beyond.

Placer County and PlacerGROWN unite to educate consumers on locally grown products

Both organizations will promote agriculture under PlacerGROWN name


It’s official. The county of Placer has joined with PlacerGROWN to formally support and promote Placer County agriculture and the family farmers who produce it. The program is focused on educating consumers in areas such as Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln and Granite Bay about the bounty of products available at the local farmers’ markets and specialty food stores as well as products sold at farm sites throughout Placer County.

The county’s public relations and social media efforts will drive consumers to to learn more about PlacerGROWN and its partners that include Placer County Vintners Association, Placer County Farm Bureau, Mountain Mandarin Growers Association and the Foothill Farmers’ Markets.

According to Josh Huntsinger, Placer County agricultural commissioner, agriculture has always played an important and integral role in the success and history of Placer County. He said this union is designed to best promote all Placer County agricultural producers.

“This agreement is a win-win for both PlacerGROWN and the county,” Huntsinger said. “By unifying our efforts under one brand; PlacerGROWN, we can connect with more people and make more county residents aware of all that is available agriculturally here in our area. Our research shows that less than 1 percent of the population residing in Placer County actually purchases PlacerGROWN products and we are working to change that.”

The role of PlacerGROWN has been not only to assist with the marketing of Placer County’s agricultural products but also to promote Placer County agriculture to the local community, to provide marketing tools to help identify Placer County growers and to develop an expanded demand for locally grown foods. PlacerGROWN President Dave Chappell said the partnership will benefit both groups.

“We are pleased to officially unite with Placer County to best support our local farmers and growers,” Chappell said. “Placer County has such a rich agricultural heritage of providing the finest and freshest fruits and outstanding vegetable offerings. The health and vitality of our local farms is important to our communities and will benefit the county economically as well.”

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