All posts by christopher

AMAZING EVENING AT THE LEDSON CASTLE

Please welcome guest writer Steve Ledson in this wonderful recounting of the Judges Dinner for East Meets West Wine Challenge, which was graciously and deliciously hosted at the Ledson Castle.

Hosting Chris Sawyer and 35 amazing wine judges and wine writers from all over the United States.

As I approached the Castle from the south, the sun was just setting against Hood Mountain creating this amazing back drop for the Castle. The driveway lanterns were lit and the Castle just glowed with all its lights setting it off against the twilight of this majestic backdrop. What an amazing site.

Walking up the steps and into the entrance I could hear the chatter of everyone’s excitement of what this evening had to share for all of us. To my right was our Dining Room that Stacey and her staff including her incredible husband Sean had set up with black table cloths and napkins and a beautiful flower arrangement of red, white and blue in the center of each table. Every glass and piece of china was in perfect order. I stood and just stared for a moment. It was so rich and inviting. Probably one of the best dining room settings I’ve seen over the last 20 years.

Stacey shuttled me along into Winslow’s Bar where everyone was mingling, Jerry and Brendon were pouring behind the bar with their amazing smiles and incredible hospitality. It was easy to see how everyone was soaking up the attention and kindness of these two handsome gentlemen. I was extremely proud of them as I watched everyone’s enthusiasm as the night unfolded. Scott Eddinger and his lovely wife Audrey were seamlessly moving through our guests passing hors d’oeuvres while mingling and chatting as the guests arrived. Both perfectly dressed for the occasion. Chef Kendyl Bilenkij stole the night starting with her amazing pairing of pickled Shrimp in a Meyer Lemon sauce and Chicken Pate paired so perfectly with our Russian River Pinot Noir Reserve and our Mountain Terraces Viognier. It was quite impressive to watch these two as they offered up Chef Kendyl’s amazing appetizers’ with a very warm and nourishing smile making guests feel so welcome.

With a tap of the glass Chris Sawyer froze the crowd as he introduced me in a way that made me feel like a King. This man has a way of making every person feel important. Chris shared stories of some of the great times he and I have shared over the last 30 years bringing back very special moments during my life here in Sonoma County. There is nothing better than reminiscing great moments of your life.

As I spoke to our Guests it was important to me to recognize all of you here at Ledson. I explained we are just one big family and each and every one of us plays a very important role in the success and most importantly the image we have in the wine world today.

I was very proud to speak and represent all of us in front of some of the greatest wine judges and wine writers in the United States today. Thank all of you for your continued efforts and hard work that has lifted us to an image anyone should be very proud of.

Stacey announced that dinner was served so we slowing flowed into the Dining Room. Stacey and Sean along with Scott and Audrey, as well as Brendon seamlessly served us an incredible meal. The first course, a citrus salad paired with our Zina Hyde Russian River Sauvignon Blanc. The phenomenal entrees of Salmon and Filet Mignon were shared with our Mes Trois Amours, Bellisimo and the Sonoma Valley Estate Reserve Merlot. To finish the evening, Chef Kendyl prepared decadent chocolate cake served with fresh raspberries which we paired with our award winning Stagecoach Reserve and the Mountain Terraces Lex’s Cabernet Sauvignon.

With each course and each pairing, Chris and I introduced the wines as our Guests anxiously listened and graciously commended the entire setting and event. Hours passed by like swift moments in time. Each and every attendee was provided with the most impeccable wines, food and service. At the close of the evening every single person there made a point to come to me personally and thank me.

It just shows what can happen when you have a team of passionate people working together.

To sum it all up for the evening in short.  Incredible food, incredible service in and incredible atmosphere with and Amazing group of very talent People.

 I’m very proud to be a part of this amazing event, not only should all of you me proud for the incredible job you all did last night, each and every one of you who works here at Ledson should be proud of the image that was present last night to some very talent wine writers and wine judges traveling here from all over the United states.

A very special thanks to my Dear Friend Chris Sawyer for making this all happen.

March 2nd Vintner Dinner with Halleck Vineyard!

Join me at Gravenstein Grill for a very special evening featuring special guest Ross Halleck of Halleck Vineyard!

Chef Simontacchi has created a dish to go alongside some of Halleck Vineyard‘s finest wines – including the #1 Pinot Noir in the US from the 2019 SF Chronicle Wine Competition.

Check out the five course wine-paired menu below and call 707-634-6142 to make your reservations!

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Enter Your Wines NOW in East Meets West next week!

Happy New Year,  just getting back after a family loss and a slew of travel, including Miami, the Capital city and the lovely Sierra Foothills!

But next week I will be local and working my palate at the EAST MEETS WEST Wine Challenge: Two competitions in one and open to all domestic and internationally produced wines according to regional designations.

Follow this LINK to enter your wines ONLINE
( & to save $5 per wine)!
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Zinfandel Experience: January 17-19

Add this to the holiday wish list!  Dine, Learn, Enjoy, Taste with legends and emerging rock stars of Zinfandel. ZinEX is a three-day wine and food extravaganza attracting wine lovers from around the world. Experience the classic character of Zinfandel at four extraordinary events featuring a diverse selection of wines and styles. The weekend includes a Welcome event Dine-Around at One Market , Flights seminar, Winemakers Auction & Dinner, and Grand Tasting.

ZinEX 2019 features access to winemaker celebrities at three impressive venues, showcasing the talents of winemakers, chefs, and artisanal food purveyors. Your VIP package includes Heritage Club membership, tickets to each of these events and so much more.

Dec 18th Dine&Donate at Gravenstein Grill!

Bring your big hearts and voracious appetites to help raise money for Ruby the Warrior Princess!  A brave little girl diagnosed last November with B-cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL).

Please join the Sebastopol and greater Sonoma Couunty communities at Gravenstein Grill (8050 Bodega Avenue, Sebastopol) on December 18th from 5-8pm in support of her family and medical care, or just make a donation directly at her Fundraiser Page.

Thanks for sharing your holiday spirit!

Cheers, Christopher

This Somm’s Best Wines for your Thanksgiving Table!

Some of you may have seen the Food Network article online about Sommelier recommendations for your turkey day feast, myself included.  However that was a much abbreviated version of what I had to say (of course)!  So here is my full answer to help you fill in those lonely decanters in your cabinet.  Enjoy & Happy Thanksgiving!!!

“Keeping in mind the enjoyment of the meal, Thanksgiving is a classic time to introduce wines with the various courses and dishes.  I recommend starting with crisp light white wines to complement the start of your meals. With seasonal salads  or creamy soups, try the Robert Mondavi 2017 Fumé Blanc, Napa Valley ($23). Modeled after the elegant white wines made in Bordeaux region of France, this new release is made with 85% Sauvignon Blanc and 15% Semillon. With aromatic aromas, the wine features lively flavors of a fresh peach, citrus, wild herbs and a smooth texture that can make the flavors in these starting dishes pop. Another Thanksgiving classic is the Gundlach Bundschu 2017 Dry Gewurztraminer, Sonoma Coast ($25). Celebrating their 160th Anniversary as the oldest family-owned winery in California, this new release from the Bundschu family features tangy flavors of ripe melon, grapefruit, white pepper, ginger and nutmeg that can pair with a wide range of starting dishes, including spicy soups and salads with zesty dressing.

Moving on to the yams, mashed potatoes, green bean salad, gravy, stuffing and white meats calls for something that can complement the various flavors on the dish. A easy choice would be a young, vibrant Pinot Noir with ripe red fruits, spice and a kiss of oak.  From the 2016 vintage that just hit the market, delicious examples include The Calling from Russian River Valley, Sanford from the Sta. Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County, and Penner-Ash from Oregon’s Willamette Valley ($28-$38). Beyond pairing nicely with fine cheeses, salads, cranberries and mushroom-based dishes, these Pinot Noir offerings are fabulous options to serve with turkey sandwiches on the days following Thanksgiving.

Of course, the main dish could range from deliciously brined or smoked turkey to savory pork or ham. Therefore, one needs a flexible varietal to suit these options. An easy solution to deal with the diverse flavors is to serve a medium to full-bodied Bordeaux style blend. Crafted with estate fruit from Paso Robles, the J. Lohr 2016 Los Osos Merlot ($15) is made with 85% Merlot and smaller portions of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The end result is a generous wine with deep, rich flavors of black cherry, plum, dark chocolate, baking spices, roasted nuts and smooth tannins that can complement each bite on the plate. For spicy and savory dishes, tangy sauces or heavier meats like dark turkey or ham, an admirable alternative would be the Dry Creek Vineyard 2016 Heritage Vines Zinfandel ($24). Honoring the old vine plantings in Dry Creek Valley and other special winegrowing regions in Sonoma County, this wine features lavish notes of blackberry, dark cherry, raspberry, black pepper, licorice and a long, graceful finish.”

SVMA/12.2.18/Art & Poetry + Food & Wine

Pairings for the Senses

Come together on Sunday, December 2nd from 5:30-7:30pm, at our 3rd-annual Pairings event. Taste the fruits of Sonoma winemakers and chefs, see the art on view in the museum, and listen to live readings by our featured “Flight of Poets:” Julia Bouwsma, Joseph Rios, Sam Sax, and Melissa Stein.  I will be the featured Sommelier along with MCs with poets Tess Taylor and Hollie Hardy.

Featured wineries include Gloria Ferrer, Stone Edge Farm, Eco Terreno Wines, Dane Cellars, Once & Future, Garnet Wines, Belden Barns, and Winery Sixteen 600.

Featured Chefs include John McReynolds, EDGE at Stone Edge Farm, Sondra Bernstein & John Toulze, girl & the fig, Kyle Kuklewski, Ramekins, Ari Weiswasser, Glen Ellen Star, Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection and special visiting chef from Mei Prefecture, Japan, Takahisa Shirakawa, courtesy of Sonoma Cultural Exchange.

Get your TICKETS!

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Poets (clockwise from top left): Joseph Rios, Melissa Stein, Sam Sax, Julia Bouwsma

Z-List! 23rd Annual Thanksgiving Wine Picks!

This years WINNING wines that pair perfectly with your Thanksgiving Turkey!  A big thanks to our 16 judges who (blindly) judged almost 175 wines together with turkey.  Near each wine you’ll find descriptions of the wine as well as the winery link.  Need wines shipped to you?  No problem, the wineries can do that! So can Bottle Barn. Yay!

 

Thank you to Grand Cru Custom Crush & Olivers Markets
for sponsoring this years epic competition.

CHAMPAGNE/SPARKLING

Claypool Cellars, Champagne $55.
Extraordinary, Apple-y, Brioche, Balanced, Pear Brûlée, Stone-fruit, Complex, Love…

ROSÉ

2014 Josh Cellars, Rosé, CA $14.
Succulent, Watermelons, Wild Strawberry, Tango’s with Turkey, Yummy, Easy Drinkin’

WHITE WINE *TIE*

2018 Alexander Valley Vineyards, Gewürztraminer, Mendocino $14.
Turkey Perfect, Exotic, Spicy, Crowd Pleaser, Ginger-not-Marianne, Luscious Lychee, Floral

2017 Dry Creek Vineyard, Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg $15.
White peaches, Crowd Pleaser, earth n spice & everything nice, Tropical fruits, Chamomile, Meyer Lemon

RED WINE

2014 Marimar Estate, Pinot Noir, Mas Cavalls, Doña Margarita Vnyd, Sonoma Coast $47.
Thanksgiving Velvet, Black Raspberries, Forest Floor, Dried Figs, Spiced Berries, Dancing in the Dark, Baking Spices, Cranberries-not the band, Elegant, Succulent, Gorgeous, Impressive

DESSERT WINE

2014 Gloria Ferrer, Demi-Sec Reserve Cuvée, Carneros. $40.
Fruitful, Succulent, Delicious, Creamy-Yum, Pretty, Ripe Juicy Green Apples, Ripe Pears

Napa Valley Film Festival: November 7-11!

Caviar anyone?  You never know what exciting enticement will come your way at NVFF!  Keep in mind that WINE will be poured at many venues from Charles Krug Wines, Gibbs Vineyards, Hess Collection, Ladera Vineyards, Long Meadow Ranch, Mersenne Wines and The GRADE Cellars.  I am excited to attend and share a glass with eager attendees!

Also if you are a Pass Plus Festival holder or VIP member, remember to visit The Studio by Feast it Forward  for their Filmmaker & Actor Lounge in partnership with Wanderluxxe:  Their culinary kitchen will bring chefs, musicians and filmmakers for discussions about film, food, wine and life.

Oh yes, and don’t forget to see a FILM!  Cheers, Christopher

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Photos (clockwise from left):  You never know who you might see at the Napa Valley Festival screenings and activities! #justsayin; Fine cocktails, artisan beer and world-class wine are all part of the extra incentives; #NVFF2018; Many wine venues to explore & enjoy!