The Rotary Club of Tehachapi held its 7th Annual Rotary Wine Pairing Dinner at The Shed on Saturday. This year the club featured all local wines from the Tehachapi Wine Growers Association. The wines were specifically paired with delicious food created by chef Mano Lujan of Red House BBQ and The Shed.

Lujan spends a lot of time tasting, talking, sampling and preparing food that will bring out the best of the wine and in turn the best of the food. The menu and wines served this year were absolutely a sensory adventure.

The evening started with the arrivals and some social mingling while enjoying a Riesling from Stray Leaves or a Pinot Noir from Tehachapi Winery. We heard from Cliff Meredith, owner of Stray Leaves, that although progress may seem slow, it is steady on his anticipated tasting room, which will be in the heart of downtown Tehachapi on Green Street in what used to be the First Interstate Bank building.

He acknowledged that it is his own desire to have the tasting room of his vision that has slowed the process. For example, wanting specific windows, which took six weeks to arrive and then were incorrect. This caused another six weeks wait for the reordered windows to come. I have to say that the Riesling was scrumptious, which makes the wait for a beautiful new building in downtown worth the wait.

We learned that Tehachapi Winery (not Tehachapi Wine and Cattle Company), which is located in the Cummings Valley, is growing many varietals of grapes. They have approximately 20 acres of red wine families. There are about 4.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, the same amount for Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Tehachapi Winery also has about 2 acres for Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

We were really thrilled to hear that Tehachapi Winery has received approval for a tasting room and wine manufacturing area and are working on a building permit. Hopefully Tehachapi will have another wine tasting room to visit sometime this fall. The Pinot Noir they provided was wonderful and every bottle we had was empty by the time we were seated.

Once seated, the group of nearly 100 people was served the following gourmet meal. The appetizer served with Triassic’s Viognier was Thai Green Curry with Octopus plus a multigrain crisp with Queso Fresco, chorizo drizzle and dried apricots. The next course was served with Tehachapi Wine and Cattle Company’s Chardonnay and included a soup of creamy cauliflower leek plus a grilled shrimp salad with avocado, mango, grapes and cucumber salad with a cream dressing. 

The main course featured Los Vierjos Malbec, which is grown right off the 202. Again, Los Vierjos is working on a tasting room, which will hopefully open in the near future. The Malbec was served with a tasty and moist sirloin baseball steak with rosemary butter. It was topped with smoked blue cheese with sautéed oyster mushrooms on the side and roasted new potatoes plus sourdough bread. The food and the wine were an unbelievably delightful match.

Dessert was paired with a second round of the Stray Leaves Riesling or Dorner Vintner’s Reserve Zinfandel and was served with petit fours with fresh berries. Dorner Family Vineyard’s tasting room is expected to open within the next month or so. The meal was impeccable, and the wines were luscious.

Tehachapi Rotary was able to raise additional funds through a silent auction, a 50/50 chance and donations from our guests. Lots of mixing and mingling just made the evening a very memorable one. We were hoping to show how sophisticated and worthy the wines being grown and produced right here in The Tehachapi Valley hold up against the more known wines from Paso Robles. We were not wrong in our assumption. We are proud of the direction our wineries are going and excited that several of the wines have won prestigious awards.

The Rotary Club of Tehachapi really wants to thank all the wineries for their participation and all the community members who attended. Your support helps us to continue doing the work we love to do in our community. A special thanks to our sponsors, BHE Renewables, The Loop, Tehachapi News, Zack Scrivner, Alta One, Coldwell Banker, Sail Thru Car Wash and Bill Kotz State Farm Agency.

For more information on Rotary, please contact our membership chair, Tim Trujillo, at 661-821-0086. Rotary meets every Thursday (except the 5th Thursday) at The Shed at noon. You are invited to join us for lunch to see if our service club, projects and members are a good fit for you.

Linda Carhart is with Rotary Club of Tehachapi.