Winegrape Commission Hosts Event on Top of Mt. Konocti

Lake County News • Susan Stout, Contributing Writer

With a bit of help from nature and a lot of effort from many people, the Lake County Winegrape Commission recently served up dinner, a view, and much gratitude.

Taking six vans of people to the top of Mount Konocti, the Commission launched a special event with wine tasting and appetizers at an elevation of about 4,300 feet on the warm Saturday evening of Aug. 27.

Approximately 90 people attended what is believed to be the first dinner and wine tasting event done on Mount Konocti, Commission President Shannon Gunier reported.

“This was a way of saying ‘thank you’ to our customers who purchase winegrapes from Lake County growers,” said Gunier. “It was also a way of introducing some of our growers to prospective winegrape buyers while incorporating a celebration of Lake County’s 150th anniversary.”

Wanting to present an event that lets Lake County grape buyers know their business is appreciated, the Commission “went all out” with the tour and dinner, Gunier said.

“We did a ‘thank you’ event last year when we hosted several customers, growers, and prospective buyers at Ceago Vinegarden,” she said. “It was sensational, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to top this one. The views were stunning, and the food coupled with several outstanding Lake County wines was incredible. People got to climb the fire tower at the top of Konocti, and event attendees received a gift bag that included a camp blanket and lantern.”

Individuals who traveled to the top of the mountain had an opportunity to taste Lake County Sauvignon Blanc with appetizers while overlooking Clear Lake, the surrounding agricultural lands, and acres of vineyards.

The group retreated to a meadow at 3,500 feet for a dinner of grilled lamb loin chops, salad and vegetables with varieties of red wines and white wines from over 25 Napa and Sonoma wineries who buy Lake County fruit for their vintages.

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Lake County Winegrape Commission Chair Peter Molnar passes a bottle of Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon at a special dinner atop Mt. Konocti near Kelseyville, Calif., on Saturday, August 27, 2011. Photo by Casey Carney.

Gunier praised the efforts of Julie Hoskins of Chic Le Chef who catered the dinner. At least 90 percent of menu ingredients used by the caterer were sourced from Lake County growers, the commission president noted.

She also commended Beth Havrilla and her crew from Lake Event Design for organizing the dinner event and creating a “beautiful” dinner venue in the meadow.

“Our guests were truly wowed by this event. One of our customers told me it was so much more refreshing than gathering in a half circle in a musty wine cave,” said Gunier.

Commission Chair Peter Molnar gave a short talk, presenting a portion of the “Lake County Rising” campaign, and honored winegrape growing “pioneers” who helped build Lake County’s reputation for producing premium fruit, Gunier said.

The honorees included the Dorn family, Myron and Marilyn Holdenried, and Walt and Madelene Lyon, all Kelseyville growers who started their vineyards in 1966; Jess Jackson, whose Kendall-Jackson Winery was started in Lake County, and Bob Roumiguiere who was instrumental in getting winegrape commissions started in California with Lake County’s being one of the first.

Plaques were presented to the honorees, with two of Jackson’s daughters and the children of Roumiguiere accepting the posthumous awards for their fathers.

“We wanted to make it special to thank the people who buy from us and to have fun,” she said. “We want to put a positive spin on things. We know the economy is tough; and on behalf of our growers, we want our customers to know we appreciate their business. We also wanted to acknowledge those individuals who helped the Lake County wine industry get going again after the lull that followed Prohibition,” said Gunier.

For information about Lake County’s wine industry and the winegrape commission, visit the commission’s Web site, www.lakecountywinegrape.org, or call 707-995-3421 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 707-995-3421 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

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Chef Julie Hoskins of Chic Le Chef talks about the food and at the tasting at the top on Mt. Konocti near Kelseyville, Calif., on Saturday, August 27, 2011. Photo by Casey Carney.