Sample the Sierra festival celebrates over 60 regional restaurants, brewers and producers, Sept. 16

CULINARY TALENT ON DISPLAY AT TAHOE FOOD AND WINE FESTIVALLake Tahoe’s reputation as a leading culinary destination is gaining comparative momentum to its world class recreation and scenery with the return of the 8th annual Sample the Sierra food and wine festival, Sept. 16. The emerging foodie paradise will showcase the talents of over 60 participants: chefs, restaurants, brewers, winemakers and farmers during the South Lake Tahoe festival. (

Sample the Sierra has created an opportunity for the South Shore’s tastemakers to present their food and drink in an easily digestible format. Nearly 1,500 attendees will explore the area’s gastronomic offerings via 20 booths of regionally sourced cuisine paired with locally crafted wine, beer and spirits.

One participant that will highlight its brand’s unique brews is South Lake Brewing Company, a new craft brewery opened this spring by South Lake Tahoe natives Chris and Nicole Smith. Smith regularly partners with South Shore restaurants, such as fellow festival vendor Chimayó BBQ Tacos y Tortas, and hosts pop-up dinners at the brewery to create holistic Tahoe dining and drinking experiences. South Lake Brewing Company is just one of many Tahoe businesses that make efforts to incorporate native elements from El Dorado County and Reno to create farm-fresh experiences for patrons.

Riva Grill, which has participated in the festival for six years, incorporates local wines into their menus to highlight the bounty available in El Dorado County. Winemakers Lava Cap Winery, Madroña Vineyards, Crystal Basin Cellars, and Grace Patriot Wines have been involved in the festival since its early inception and have grown in popularity due to partnerships with establishments like Riva Grill.

“We want to introduce attendees to all of the fresh foods and locally prepared items available in our mountain town,” said Emily Abernathy, directors of operations for the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce. “The Tahoe food scene is becoming known for its pride in authentic ingredients and a lot of that has to do with our commitment to keeping things local.”

Stephen Gill of Cherry Bomb Catering, Keith Roberts of Zephyr Cove Restaurant, Patrick Harrity of Cold Water Brewery & Grill, and Kristina Forsberg of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe are four regional chefs that pride themselves on sourcing local ingredients. Their cooking aptitude will be tested during the festival’s Iron Chef-style Sierra Chef Challenge where they will be pitted against one another in a timed cooking trial that involves mystery local ingredients. The challenge occurs during festival hours.

The Sierra Chef Challenge will be one must-see during a day of food and drink that includes entertainment from local bands Sierra Gypsies and Taking Root, a marketplace of local vendors, artisans and artists, as well as a live art experience after-show at Benko Art Gallery.

Booth pairings of individual restaurants, breweries/distilleries/wineries, and farmers for the festival will be announced in August. For a full list of participants, visit the Sample the Sierra website.

Sample the Sierra is located at Bijou Community Park, South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Tasting tickets are $40 for adults, $30 for under 21, and free for children three years old and younger. Tickets are available at

Sample the Sierra is produced by the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, El Dorado County, and the City of South Lake Tahoe. The festival is supported by Camelot Party Rentals, South Tahoe Alliance of Resorts, Winters Electric, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe, South Tahoe Refuse & Recycling, Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Liberty Utilities, Sierra Sotheby’s Realty, Lake Tahoe TV, KTHO, Tahoe Daily Tribune, Getaway Reno/Tahoe, Tahoe Quarterly, and SierraFoodWineArt.

For information about Sample the Sierra, tickets and participation, visit