The Transcendental Art of Pairing Food & Wine
In the Napa Valley and across the hills in Sonoma County, wineries are sending the message that magic waves its wand when a well-made wine meets its match in a creative dish.
By California law, only a few “grandfathered in” wineries in the state are allowed to have full-service restaurants. Wineries can, however, offer food and wine for educational purposes. And what a transcendental education it can be! Some welcome tasters to an educational experience equal to that of an acclaimed restaurant. Others delight with the unexpected, such as Napa’s Priest Ranch Winery convincing tasters that “everything’s better with bacon” by pairing four wines to four thick cuts of rich pork belly.
Napa Valley’s Sequoia Grove Winery, producer of more than six different reserve and single-vineyard Cabernets, encourages guests to forget the “red wine, red meat rule.” Chef Britny Maureze introduces small culinary adjustments to enhance the flavors of the wine as she prepares unexpected dishes for Sequoia’s “A Taste for Cabernet Wine & Food Experience.” Cabernet with salmon? Yes!
St. Francis Winery and Vineyards in the Sonoma Valley was among the first to embrace food and wine pairing and was twice-named “Best Restaurant in America” by Open Table. Today, gather in the estate’s dining room for a five-course, five-wine pairing. A lighter choice is four wines paired with appetizer-sized creations presented in the Vineyard Portico. For both, Chef Janiak finds inspiration in the winery’s two-acre garden.
In the Dry Creek Valley, Ferrari Carrano Vineyards & Winery serves up “La Colazione Italiana,” breakfast Italian style. In fine weather, “Sunday Wine and Brunch” is hosted outdoors; take time to wander the winery’s expansive gardens. Winter hosting moves inside Villa Fiore. Outside or in, such Colazione inspired dishes as Estate Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce and Italian Prosciutto accompany pourings of reserve wines.
Robert Mondavi Winery, now in the new Arch & Tower location in downtown Napa, offers a modern expression on 1960s classics. Enjoy the deliciously paired courses with locally sourced but internationally inspired items perfectly paired with The Estates Collection.
Take in valley and vineyard views from a ridge above St. Helena at a picnic in Merryvale Vineyards’ Profile Estate vineyard. A flight of Profile Collection wines matches the elegant luncheon fare. A guided walk through the vines follows.
If a casual picnic is your preference, V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena offers an artisan deli experience. Fixings include house-made salumi, 200 different cheeses, and an array of salads and pastas created to match the winery’s wines. Two acres of picnic grounds await; in inclement weather, tables are set up in the barrel room.
For delicious pizzas, salads, paninis and so much more, visit VJB Cellars in Kenwood. The stunning Tuscan-style villa houses their tasting room, marketplace and deli, and outdoor pizza kitchen as well as a truffle and gelato shop all surrounding a fabulous piazza!
Treat yourself to the decadent delight of caviar and bubbles! At Breathless Sparkling Wines. Indulge in wild-caught American Hackleback Sturgeon caviar, organic locally crafted Cowgirl Creamery crème fraîche and savory gourmet potato chips. Charcuterie boards are also available as well as crêpes on select days.
If it is bubbles that entice you, head for J Vineyard’s Bubble Room. Shifting the Lens invites chefs with diverse backgrounds to J for a two-week Bubble Room residency to showcase cuisines and perspectives that are rarely represented in wine country tasting experiences – winner of the Sonoma County Tourism Innovation Award!
Mayo Family Winery Reserve Room in the heart of Sonoma Valley offers seven-course, Reserve Room pairings. Expect adventurous dishes such as rack of lamb chop, tomato and caper “chimichurri” or balsamic-smoked grape “bruschetta”.