Opinion: Summer’s last hurrah in South Lake Tahoe
Tribune Opinion Columnist
With summer soon to be behind us and Labor Day weekend fast approaching, many of us are striving to squeeze in just a few more classic Tahoe experiences before autumn. One such experience that has become tradition for many in recent years is Sample the Sierra. Presented by Tahoe Chamber, Tahoe South and El Dorado County, this annual farm-to-fork festival celebrates the Sierra Nevada through food, wine, music and art with the goal of promoting geotourism (tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents).
The festival also aims to build flourishing partnerships within El Dorado County by pairing farmers and producers with restaurants and chefs. Then it matches vendors up with a winery, brewery or distillery for perfectly paired dishes completely unique to the region. Though the festival lasts only a day, it creates business-to-business collaborations that last for years and helps businesses’ thrive by heightening awareness of the bounty that exists in our region.
A number of Sample the Sierra restaurants have continued to use local products long after the festival. Primo’s Italian Bistro and Riva Grill each have locally produced wines on their menus while MacDuff’s Pub sources ingredients from local farms. Not only do these efforts support the farmers, providers and wineries, but it also adds a local flavor to dishes. This holistic or “geotouristic” approach meets growing consumer demand for unique regional experiences and enables our community to build a responsible tourism strategy that celebrates and builds on our sense of place and complements our growing reputation as a recreation destination.
Festival attendees will also discover new products, businesses and artisans and are likely to find themselves regularly patronizing businesses after the festival. Our events director, Emily, is a huge fan of participant Perez’s Red Shack, a farmer in Apple Hill; and I have been subscribing to Mountain Bounty’s fresh organic produce and Lava Cap and Crystal Basin’s wine clubs since discovering all at our first Sample the Sierra. It is now tradition for me to start my Christmas shopping at Sample the Sierra where I easily find one-of-a-kind gifts that carry meaning for both recipient and maker. Additionally, I know when a room in our homes needs refreshing that a trip to Focus on Interiors will yield attractive new cushions, table runners or tablecloths.
You too might discover a new favorite wine, beer, spirit, shop or restaurant that turns you into a fan not only at Sample the Sierra, but throughout the year!
And if you, like me, regard yourself as a “foodie” (translation, you just like to wine and dine) you may want to join us on Friday, Sept. 4, for the Sample the Sierra Pop-Up Dinner taking place under a canopy of stars on the 10th hole at Lake Tahoe Golf Course. This special four-course dinner carries the farm-to-fork theme with locally sourced food expertly prepared by chefs Josh and Whitney Deri of Blend Catering served with four unique regional wines.
I look forward to seeing you at the 6th Annual Sample the Sierra on Sunday, Sept. 6, at Bijou Community Park before we all head to the beach that evening for summer’s last fireworks hurrah. You can purchase tickets to both events at http://www.samplethesierra.com.
“B” Gorman, J.D., A.C.E. is the president/CEO of the Tahoe Chamber.