Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

FOR MANY MARIN residents, Lake Tahoe is a home away from home. A quick three-hour jaunt east by car — or an even faster flight — brings verdant slopes covered with firs and cedars and a real sense of escape. Of course, during winter when the majority of people visit, the trees are often almost entirely obscured by the fine powder the region is famous for. That wasn’t the case earlier this month, however, when the 31st Annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food & Wine Festival took place. The smell of pine filled the crisp air, punctuated only by the culinary delights that were prepared throughout the weekend. At the center of the activity was the Ritz-Carlton Resort, which hosted a number of events including a drink-making workshop and the Tahoe Long Table Harvest Dinner.

Opened in December of 2009, the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe took more three years to complete and cost $300 million dollars — all of which is evidenced in the resort’s immaculate design and luxe amenities. Spacious and elegant, no detail here is spared. Decor is comfortable (think: large, leather chairs that engulf you) yet contemporary — an assortment of air plants can be found in hallways as well as the central Living Room area. Accommodations, per Ritz standards, are a treat on their own. Vast layouts with floor to ceiling windows that open up to sweeping sylvan views, stately bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and a gas fireplace to warm your feet by make the rooms a dream come true for exhausted skiers and for who those who simply enjoy some spoils of life. If you’re looking for more pampering there is full spa on premises offering an array of treatments in addition to bath salts and other products available for purchase to use in rooms. Also not to miss: an arcade on the ground floor. Underappreciated gem!

But back to the food, where the Tahoe Long Table Harvest Dinner prepared by Executive Chef Dwayne Edwards was the show stealer. Guests sat at long tables and were served six family style courses that included a smoked watermelon salad, skewers of beef tenderloin, seafood paella and grilled apple streusel with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Pahlmeyer Winery from Napa Valley made the whole ordeal that much sweeter. Chef Edwards says the event kicks off the “secret season,” which is one of the best times of year to be in Lake Tahoe. “The fall colors, flavors, special culinary events and serene environment make it the perfect time to be in the region,” he adds. No arguing there based off this weekend. With all the amenities, fine food and wine and activities, who wouldn’t want to unwind here?