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Friday, 28 October 2016 16:49

What's New, What's Cool at Tahoe

HeavenlyAction Selects 001 1 Picmonkey

TASTE News Service, October 28, 2016 - Coming off one of the longest seasons in recent memory with chairlifts turning for nearly seven months, the Ski Lake Tahoe resorts are ramping up for another snowcapped winter season with ongoing capital improvements, new VIP services/amenities and additional air service topping the list of "what's new" and "what's cool" on the slopes heading into the 2016-17 season.

Lake Tahoe Cruise Boat picmonkey


TASTE News Service, June 14, 2016 - Many places have a defined travel season, but Lake Tahoe is an all year around destination with plenty of activities at any time of year.

snowboarder at Tahoe PicmonkeyBoarder enjoys fresh snow this weekBy Daniel Pistoressi

March 10, 2016 - This winter's monster El Niño continues to deliver on the slopes of Lake Tahoe with this week's storm snowfall totals cresting the five-foot mark at summit elevations. Powder-coated skiers and snowboarders are currently reporting the best conditions of the entire season, an epic winter that has already seen more than 400 inches of snowfall, with another round of powerful storms on track to deposit multiple feet of snow over the weekend.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015 15:29

Chef’s Holidays Returns to Yosemite

chefs holidays Gala Dinner Table PicmonkeyTASTE News Service December 29, 2015 – The coming months are an especially beautiful time to visit Yosemite as the valley is blanketed in fresh snow and the winter brings a solitude that you cannot match any other time of the year in this very popular destination. The view from the tall windows of the Ahwahnee’s solarium is lovely anytime. On an afternoon when deer are crossing the meadow as new snow falls, it’s just about perfect.

High Noon posterTASTE News Service, October 29, 2015 - From these classic movies --High Noon, The Great Race, Back to the Future III and Big Valley, to television series that brought the big outdoors into American living rooms such as Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Lassie, a small area in Northern California has played a big role: creating lifelike settings and story lines to recreate early America. For Tuolumne County, set against the backdrop of Yosemite National Park in Northern California, the job was easy.

As early as 1919, filmmakers recognized the area as a valuable and convenient source for location filming. Gold rush era buildings with wood plank sidewalks and slamming screen doors, Main Street with a Wells Fargo Express office, white picket fences and grand hotels stood ready for their close-up. The area is still rich in natural features and vintage architectural styles, big sky landscape, rushing rivers and lakes, and one key ingredient – abundant California light. Producers and directors discovered that almost any type of scenery in the United States and beyond could be replicated on film in Tuolumne County.

Sunday, 04 October 2015 15:15

Celebrate the Holiday Season at Yosemite

Vinters Holiday at Ahwahnee 2 PicmonkeyA lighter moment at Vintners Holiday tastingTASTE News Service October 5, 2015 – Winter in Yosemite and Mariposa County is an especially beautiful time to be outdoors enjoying a range of activities from horse-drawn sleigh rides, skiing at Badger Pass Ski Resort, ice skating, snow shoeing and photography.

The area is home to many holiday traditions, too. Among these are the annual Vintner's Holidays and the Bracebridge Dinner held at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite National Park. Other events, many with a family-friendly orientation, include gingerbread house decorating workshops, kids’ dinner with Santa, and Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve at the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, as well as many outdoor activities.

Yosemite Vintners Holidays PicmonkeyWinemaker-led tasting at the lodge

TASTE News Service July 16, 2015 – Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel has announced the lineup for the annual Vintners' Holidays series showcasing some of California's best wineries. Now in their 34th year, the Vintners' Holidays are two and three-day sessions held between November 8 and December 3. These gatherings celebrate the fall harvest with wine tastings and seminars and provide a forum for guests to meet and mingle with the vintners. Culmination of each sessions is a dinner prepared by Executive Chef Percy Whatley accompanied by the often rare or limited-release wines.

"Vintners' Holidays offers the best of food and wine combined with the best of nature," said Food & Wine Series Events Manager Kathy Langley. "This year's exciting lineup of vintners includes returning favorites such as Silver Oak Cellars and Rombauer Vineyards in addition to new participants that include Dehlinger Vineyards and Verdad Wines."

Since its inception as a small gathering of vintners and hotel guests in the winter of 1982, Vintners' Holidays has become a premier California event for wine aficionados and winemakers alike. Vintners' Holidays allows vintners to relax after the busy harvest season and share the fruits of their labor with Yosemite visitors in one of California's most stunning landscapes.

The 2015 Vintners' Holidays schedule includes the following vintners and event moderators:

Session 1: November 8-10

Moderator: Dan Berger, Wine Journalist & Judge

John Williams, Frog's Leap

Shauna Rosenblum, Rock Wall Wine Co.

Eva Dehlinger, Dehlinger Vineyards*

Cathy Corison, Corison Winery            

Session 2: November 11-12

Moderator: Dan Berger, Wine Journalist & Judge

Kathleen Inman, Inman Family Wines*

John Conover, Plumpjack Winery

Charles Heintz, Charles Heintz Vineyards & Winery*

Alan Cannon, Rombauer Vineyards

Session 3: November 15-17

Moderator: Fred Dame, Master Sommelier

Louisa Sawyer Lindquist, Verdad Wines*

Beth Milliken, Spottswoode

Steve Dutton & Dan Goldfield, Dutton Goldfield

Bob Lindquist, Qupe

Session 4: November 18-19

Moderator: Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier

Joy Sterling, Iron Horse Vineyards

Rob McNeill, Don & Sons

Jeff Stewart, Hartford Family Winery

Justin Baldwin, Justin Winery

Session 5: November 29 - December 1

Moderator: Peter Marks, Master of Wine

Susan Lueker, Simi Winery

Robb Talbott, Talbott Vineyards

Jeff Mangahas, Williams Selyem Winery

Chris Benziger, Benziger Family Winery

Session 6: December 2-3

Moderator: Peter Marks, Master of Wine

Ted Benet & Deborah Cahn, Navarro Vineyards

Michael McNeill, Hanzell Vineyards*

Chrissy Wittman, Wild Horse Winery

Daniel Baron, Silver Oak Cellars

*Indicates new participating winery or winemaker this year.

Editor’s note: The Ahwahnee, a AAA Four-Diamond hotel featuring rustic architecture with Native American, Middle Eastern and Art and Crafts design elements, is located in Yosemite National Park. Further information about the 2015 Vintners’ Holidays can be found at www.YosemitePark.com/Vintners

Saturday, 27 June 2015 19:08

There’s More Than Just the Outdoors

John Stewart Duskie Estes PicmonkeySonoma County chefs John Stewart and Duskie Estes have fun at Chef's Holiday

TASTE News Service June 27, 2015 - Yosemite is approaching its 125th anniversary of becoming a National Park and, while justly famed for its natural beauty, the Park and surrounding area also justify a gustatory reputation. Here are some aspects that our culinary-oriented readers might enjoy:

Chef's Holidays at The Ahwahnee

Yosemite's Chefs' Holidays at The Ahwahnee, held each year in January and February, feature some of the world's most innovative and acclaimed chefs. This Northern California cooking adventure provides a showcase for the range of styles, personalities and trends that characterize the American culinary scene. Each 3-4 four day session includes an intimate Meet the Chefs reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres, behind-the-scenes kitchen tours, cooking demonstrations with tastings, all culminating in an exquisite Chefs' Holiday Gala Dinner, prepared by the visiting chefs, in The Ahwahnee Dining Room. A range of lodging packages are available, as well as dinner only options.

Mariposa Taps Liquid Gold at Area Breweries

California is fast becoming the next brewing hotspot with more than 500 microbrews, brewpubs and craft breweries already established in the state and more opening each year. While better known for Gold Rush-era history and culture, Mariposa, a town just on the western edge of Yosemite National Park, has caught the gold fever again a big way. Local breweries are gaining a following and even setting sights on regional distribution. Mariposa's first brewery, Prospector's Brewing Company, was established in 2011 and has quickly grown to two separate tasting room locations. Visitors here will find a pub crawl can be done in Mariposa's Old Town, with full tasting flights at distinctive microbreweries and brewpubs that feature a broad range of regional Northern California microbrews – all with easy walking distance of several area hotels.

Farm-to-Table: Experience the Real Food Movement

Grass-fed and sustainable isn't a new trend, our ranchers have been doing it that way for generations. While in Yosemite National Park you can enjoy Open Space Meats, grown within the same county, at both The Ahwahnee and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Restaurants such as 1850 and the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort offer diners a chance to enjoy a steak that was produced just a few miles away on native grasses with plenty of sunshine. Local nonprofits such as the Sierra Foothill Conservancy work to preserve large tracts of land for traditional farming and sell the produce to support their conservation efforts. These types of programs support traditional ranching, preserve lands from development, and provide a healthy alternative to industrially-produced beef.

Bracebridge Dinner at The AhwahneeBracedbridge Dinner Picmonkey

You can celebrate the yuletide season in elegance at The Ahwahnee. Celebrated annually since 1927, the Bracebridge Dinner transforms The Ahwahnee into an 18th century English manor for a feast of food, song and mirth. The most time-honored Yosemite tradition, the Bracebridge Dinner, brings together more than 100 players to delight diners as they enjoy a meticulously prepared seven course feast. Multiple performances throughout December with lodging and dining packages available.

Editor’s Note: In the High Sierra sections of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory, you will fill find links to the websites of many Lodging and Dining options, including the Ahwahnee.

Squaw Valley Mainline Hank deVre PicmonkeySquaw Valley scene by photographer Hank deVre

TASTE News Service April 13, 2015 - Squaw Valley Ski Holdings announced today that it has reached an agreement with the owner of private land located between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows to create a base-to-base gondola connection between the two iconic mountains. The gondola would make it easy for skiers and riders to explore both mountains with a single lift ticket or season pass, without needing to travel between the two by car.

“For decades, skiers and riders have talked about connecting these two world-class resorts,” said Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. “Over the last four years, we’ve made significant improvements to enhance the skier experience at both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The base-to-base gondola will offer our guests the ability to easily explore and experience the unique attributes of these two mountains via a brand new aerial connection, while simultaneously reducing vehicle traffic between them.”

The planned gondola connection between the two mountains is due to a partnership between Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Troy Caldwell, the owner of the private land dubbed “White Wolf,” located between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The estimated completion date of the project will be subject to Placer County and US Forest Service approvals once applications are submitted.

“Connecting Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows through White Wolf is literally bringing my long-time dream to fruition,” said Troy Caldwell. “I’ve waited years for this to happen, and am pleased to have reached an agreement with Squaw Valley Ski Holdings to allow skiers and riders to easily move between these two incredible mountains.”

Squaw blueBaseToBase PicmonkeyPlans to connect the two mountains have commenced, and include the possibility of the lift to be constructed as a high-speed, detachable gondola that would operate between the base of Squaw Valley and the base of Alpine Meadows, traveling over the KT-22 Peak. There are no plans currently being contemplated to allow skiing or other non-skiing activities along the lift route or on the White Wolf terrain.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Troy, and to have the opportunity to connect these two iconic mountains via gondola,” said Wirth. “This connection represents a huge opportunity to give skiers and snowboarders a way to easily travel between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and seamlessly experience the distinct terrain and unique culture of both mountains.”

Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Troy Caldwell will work with mountain planners at SE Group to design and construct the gondola connection to ensure good stewardship of the high alpine environment whose natural beauty is integral to the overall Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows experience. The planned base-to-base gondola will be carefully designed to minimize the overall footprint and potential visual impacts to the adjacent Granite Chief Wilderness, as well as maintain the scenic beauty of the area.

To accomplish this, design elements include minimizing the number of lift towers and eliminating the need to construct access roads. The result of these efforts would significantly reduce necessary timber removal and vegetation clearing for construction, and would minimize impacts on watershed, soils and natural resources throughout the planned lift corridor. Recognizing the visual sensitivity of the surrounding area – particularly the adjacent Granite Chief Wilderness, measures will be implemented to minimize the potential for adverse visual impacts from the perspective of design, materials and equipment selection, and operational practices. In addition, it is anticipated that the operation of the gondola will substantially reduce both resort shuttle service and guest vehicular traffic between the two resorts, leading to a reduction in overall vehicular emissions.

“The plan itself will be executed with incredible care and concern for our environment, and with the intention of taking cars off the road, effectively reducing vehicle travel between the two mountains,” said Michael Gross, director of environmental initiatives for Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. “Our guests will no longer have to drive from one mountain to the other to choose where they would like to ski. They will have the ability to simply ride a gondola to experience these two iconic, diverse mountains.”

Editor’s note: More information about the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows connection can be had at www.squawalpine.com/gondola. Links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in this spectacular part of the state can be found in the High Sierra listings of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory.

Yosemite FallsYosemite Falls

TASTE News Service, April 8, 2015 – Yosemite/Mariposa County, home to Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove, is blooming for the springtime. The waterfalls are flowing and the wildflowers are blossoming.

Wildflowers in the area appear according to elevation, with earliest blooms starting in April at the lowest elevations and gradually emerging at the highest elevations as late as July. The first displays at low elevations are dramatic bursts of tufted poppies, spider lupines, and redbud, bursting out along the Highway 140 corridor of the Merced River. While plenty of sightseeing can be done by the roadside, hikers at Hite Cove can stroll through whole fields of wildflowers. This is also the perfect time to cycle or drive from the Gold Rush-era town of Hornitos via Highway 49N and Old Toll Road to Bear Valley, just outside the town of Mariposa. This drive in the country presents grassy, rolling foothills and lovely arrays of wildflowers. By May, Yosemite National Park has scores of delicate white dogwoods blooming all over the valley floor. Climbing out of the valley floor, visitors will find snowplants emerging from a frosty slumber and later corn lilies and monkey flowers begin to pop along the trails.

In the springtime, the snow starts melting and the waterfalls are flowing at full force. Early season visitors can see the ephemeral falls that are typically dry by the time summer arrives. Among these brief, but stunning attractions, are Horsetail Fall and Ribbon Fall. The multiple cascades of Yosemite's most iconic waterfall, Yosemite Falls, can be seen from numerous places in the valley. The Yosemite Falls “moonbow,” or lunar rainbow, is visible on a clear spring night with a full moon.

Yosemite/Mariposa County offers plenty of family-friendly activities that kick off in the spring and continue throughout summer season and into the fall. The Ahwahnee Hotel features fireside storytelling in the hotel's Great Lounge and families can also explore Yosemite under the starry sky on the Night Prowl guided adventure, taking place April through November, with permitting weather conditions.

Editor’s note: More information on can be had by visiting YosemiteExperience.com. The Resource Directory of Taste California Travel is also worth visiting before you go. It contains links to the websites of hundreds of nearby Lodging and Dining options in the area, as well as links to wineries and craft beer purveyors. 

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