An Affair to Remember on Sonoma Wine Road
Our affair started on a sunny afternoon at Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in Fulton, Sonoma. Awash in golden light, California Wine Country vines were bursting with color from bright yellow, to scarlet red, to deep purple. The air was fragrant with fallen leaves and late roses still in full bloom.
A Wine and Food Affair was presented on the first weekend of November by Wine Road Northern Sonoma County, with dozens of premier wineries participating from Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys. Creative food pairings complemented featured wines, with all the original recipes collected in a beautifully published cookbook Tasting along the Wine Road.
While it would be impossible to visit all the great wineries and try all the food pairings from Sebastopol to Geyserville, my husband Yuri and I set off on a two-day road trip trying to get the skinny on Sonoma’s bounty.
Inspiration Vineyards paired their 2008 Estate Chardonnay from Russian River Valley with chilled corn and sundried tomato chowder topped with fresh tarragon. Jon Phillips, owner/winemaker, and his helpers Lori Marie Adams and Ben Posluszny were pouring gold medal winners, a 2007 Pinot Noir from Los Carneros region and a 2007 Zinfandel from Alexander Valley, in an inviting new tasting room in Santa Rosa.
At the neighboring Carol Shelton Wines, the winery’s founder and namesake was involved hands-on with pushing down skins of fermenting petit syrah while her visitors were trying multiple-award-winning zins paired with Karachi beef stew.
Twomey Cellars on Westside Road heading to downtown Healdsburg boasts sweeping views from its glass-walled tasting room and offered comforting pumpkin gnocchi with brown butter, walnuts, and sage to complement a complex fruit-rich 2008 Russian River Pinot Noir.
Posh Kendall-Jackson in the heart of Healdsburg presented several of its esteemed wines and a delicious ham hock and pumpkin quesadilla, freshly browned on a portable grill.
Of all the food and wine pairings we tried on our colorful journey, there were too many too good to list them all.
We enjoyed petit syrah-braised short ribs at Sheldon Wines and a match made in heaven in Hauck Cellars in Santa Rosa, where 2006 Meritage (merlot, cab sauv, petit verdot, and malbec) was paired with boeuf forestier, redolent of full-bodied cab. Then at Rodney Strong Vineyards in Healdsburg a perfect culinary revelation came in the form of butternut squash and apple soup with cream and sage, happily married to a 2009 estate sauv blanc.
The upcoming events on the Sonoma Wine Roads are: 19th Annual Winter Wineland on Jan. 15 and 16, 2011, and 33rd Annual Barrel Tasting on March 4-6 and 11-13 2011. More information online.