Mastering the Art of Paella at Alderbrook Winery
Sunny skies prevailed in the Dry Creek Valley wine country during our paella-making adventure at Alderbrook Winery. Guests were excited to learn the secrets for making perfect paella. Three giant paella pans waited to be put to use, resting on the expansive lawn.
After receiving a glass of Pinot Gris and some instructions, we were divided into groups to begin our preparations. Shaded picnic tables were set up with ingredients and cooking tools. We donned our aprons and set about chopping, dicing, and julienning the ingredients.
Chef Gerard Nebesky kept his eye on our efforts to ensure that we followed instructions. He is a paella master, which made us eager to learn his secrets. He bested Chef Bobbie Flay in one his “Throwdown” paella sessions, which only added to his credibility.
Whole cloves of garlic were tossed in the pan to simmer away while we prepared the vegetables. Garlic and shrimp were added to one of the pans for an appetizer. Meanwhile we began to sautee onions and peppers, adding the chicken and allowing it to simmer. Diced tomatoes and stock were added, and finally the rice.
Paella-making is as much a social activity as a culinary one. While we waited, we sipped wine and feasted on gambas and fresh bread while the paella simmered away.
As the paella neared completion chorizo, was added to one of the pans while shrimp and mussels were added to another. The anticipation was building as all of us hoped our efforts would result in a masterpiece. When it was ready, we were finally able to enjoy our efforts.
Not only was the paella beautiful, but it tasted great too. We sampled each of the colorful paellas: vegetarian, mixta, and chicken and chorizo. The paella was accompanied by a salad of fresh greens with a Spanish vinaigrette.
We were given our choice of wine to pair with the meal, and I choose the 2008 Alderbrook Three Goose Vineyard Zinfandel. It was a good match to the bold, smoky flavors of the chorizo and tomatoes. And since Dry Creek Valley is best known for their zinfandels, it seemed fitting. While we dined and sipped, we were serenaded with Spanish guitar tunes – a perfect afternoon indeed.
Alderbrook Winery is located in Healdsburg and has a lovely tasting room. They also have inviting grounds, including a lawn with tables and chairs. It is an idyllic setting to savor their wine.
The paella-making party is one of the many perks that wine club members receive at Alderbrook Winery. It is so popular it sells out months in advance, so they now offer them twice each year.
Alderbrook Winery makes a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Carignane, a host of Zinfandels, and Pinot Noir. You can also purchase Terlato wine in their tasting room.
Details: Alderbrook Winery is located at 2306 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg, CA 95448. Phone 800-405-5987 or visit their website.
Relish Culinary Adventures specializes in private cooking parties and tours They are located in Healdsburg. More information is available on their website or by calling 877-759-1004.