Bernie Butcher, owner-operator of Tallman Hotel/Blue Wing Saloon, got busy in 2008 and developed a magnificent Lake County wine country tour for RoadScholar.org. Chris Skarada, a local resident and RoadScholar.org employee, works with him to bring travelers from all over the country to mix, mingle, and learn everything they can about Lake County wines, wineries, and vineyards. This season’s tour included eighteen travelers from Allentown, PA, Camano Island, WA, Clemson, SC, and Corralitos, CA.
RoadScholars spent time with winemaker Stephen Dilley at Wildhurst WineCo. where he arranged for them to mix and master their own red wine blend. One had to be impressed by all of the new infrastructure at the old Wildhurst Wine and hay facility.
The Alhmann Family at Six Sigma Winery welcomed RoadScholars with a short walk to the nearest vineyard and a most informative discussion regarding their organic practices and problems with pesty bears. They then offered a flight of their favorite offerings and served a lunch highlighting their grass-fed beef and desert featuring Lake Co. pears. Making for a complete loop around a very dry Clear Lake, the trip north took RoadScholars to Brassfield Winery in Clearlake Oaks, where Director of Vineyard and Estate Operations, Jonathan Walters, provided an informative tour of the facility and newly completed, very impressive wine caves.
A third day, spent in the vineyard with David Weiss, owner of Bella Vista Property Management, and his very efficient, industrious crew of pickers was quite an eye-opener for those who really had no idea of what it takes to put a glass of wine on the table. Mr. Weiss shed great light on the challenges that local farmers are tasked with every year, this one, in particular, being like none before it.
Later in the day, proprietor and winemaker Cheryl Lucido and tasting room manager Kiley Owens welcomed Roadscholars to Laujor Estate Winery, where they enjoyed lunch on the comfortable back porch at the top of our Red Hills region, overlooking miles of vineyards and Mt. Konocti in the distance.
To wrap things up, Bernie took his RoadScholars to Beckstoffer Vineyards, where they had the privilege of meeting with General Manager Pedro Rubio, who encouraged RoadScholars and their tourbus drivers to take it all the way to the top of Crimson Ridge Vineyard where he answered their every question with the greatest of ease…and pride. Mr Rubio has been with Beckstoffer for over thirty years and does not take his job lightly.
After having an opportunity to examine, close up, the grape picking machinery and other tools of the trade, buses were led out the back gate at Beckstoffer Vineyards on to Red Hills Rd. where they then headed to Boatique Winery for a taste of wine and a look at the extensive collection of boats before making their final stop at Chacewater Winery. There Emilio showed the mechanized olive pickers and gave them a glimpse of the mashing and extraction machinery before taking them in to experience the full line of olive oils that Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill produces.