Category Archives: Beer

Lighting of the Snowmen @Cornerstone, Dec 3rd

lightingofsnowmenPrecipitation or not, it is that time of year when the snowmen arrive in Sonoma!  This Saturday December 3rd at 4pm the Festival begins at Cornerstone including many family friendly activities:

-Holiday decorations, lights + music
-Kids activities including face painting and felt ornament making
-Jolly Old Saint Nick handing out candy canes
-S’more Making with Sunset Magazine
-The Fig Rig
-Hot soups
-Beer, wine + champagne
-Sweet Scoops Ice Cream Cart
-Hot coffee and hot chocolate
-KZST Radio broadcasting live from Cornerstone

Bundle up and join in the wintery fun!

Time for Oktoberfest!

oktoberfestWell, technically almost half of the Oktoberfest events have already taken place, mostly in September. Hmm. However the sudden urge to consume beer at the outset of autumn is an understandable predicament. Given that, here are a few Oktoberfest opportunities to whet your palate depending on where you reside or travel this month.

Auburn Oktoberfest (Annual Craft Beer Festival): October 8th
Local, regional and national breweries showcasing a small selection of beers. Select breweries will also present one-off beers, which are brewed specifically to be served at the Oktoberfest event.

Cotati Oktoberfest: October 8th
Wunderbar German food, fresh craft brews on tap, traditional Oktoberfest music by The Continentals and polka dancing! Contests include the not-to- be-missed Wiener Dog Races, the Tankard Hoist, the Yodeling Contest and the Potato Sack Races.

Nevada City Oktoberfest: October 8th
If you are heading into the mountains this might be a fun stop (we will just miss this, arriving in NC 2 days later). There will be beer from local breweries, live entertainment, German food and a vintage motorcycle display.

Ocean Beach Oktoberfest in San Diego:  October 7 & 8
“Bavaria meets the beach!” With a slew of interesting activities including The Sausage Toss, Balloon Blow, Ms. O’fest and Das Booty Flip.  Live music to accompany your pleasures.

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest in Chico: October 7 & 8
In an area well known for beer consumption, there will also be live music, cold beer and hot glass blowing demonstrations. Musical lineup of three bands. Don’t forget to practice up on your chicken dance before attending.

If none of these suit your locale scout out
some other options at this Oktoberfest Caliornia link!

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair is back!

20160926_084845If you are looking for something fun to do in wine country this weekend, then jump in your car and head directly to Santa Rosa for the 42nd Annual Sonoma County Harvest Fair, September 30-October 2.

Located inside the easy to get to fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, this fun and lively three-day event offers great chances to taste over 500 award winning wines that were judged by me and 24 other wine pros earlier this month, as well as craft beer and cider, and food from top restaurants in the county.

In addition to browsing in the expansive Wine Country Marketplace; there are plenty of educational activities, including food and wine pairings, chef demonstrations, harvest workshops and seminars, and more!

To kickoff this interactive weekend event, a series of special awards were handed out at the Harvest Fair Gala & Dinner held at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts last Sunday.

For wine, the big winners included:

Sweepstakes White Wine: J. Rickards 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Croft Vineyard, Alexander Valley ($24). This wine also won Best of Class in the category Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc, retail price $20 and above.

Sweepstakes Red Wine: Russian River Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir, Horseridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($65). Best of Class in the Pinot Noir category; retail price $45 and above.

Sweepstakes Specialty Wine: Gloria Ferrer 2007 Royal Cuvee Sparkling Wine, Estate Grown, Carneros ($37 Best of Class in the category that covered all sparkling wines, retail price $20 and above.

For beer, the beloved cult sensation Russian River Brewing Company won the top award for Excellence in Craft Beer Industry.

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[Photo Captions (clockwise from left):  What do you know! My good friends Shane Finley of Thirty Seven Wines, Nicole Bacigalupi Dericco of Bacigalupi Vineyards, Victoria Jo and Billy Green of Matrix Wines, and Donna Joyner and the Zanin family of Bennett Valley Cellars and Bin 6410 Wines were all represented with gold-medal winning wines!;  Feeling refreshed at the awards ceremony gala for the Sonoma County #Harvest Fair!;  Some of the top wines I tasted with my fellow wine judges a couple weeks ago were spectacular and great indicators why the 2013, 2014 and 2015 were all special vintages for so many different reasons!;  Petaluma represented! Congrats to Out to Lunch Catering for this fabulous award!]

In the food judging categories, each dish was rated based on creativity, flavor and presentation. The following gold medal winning restaurants will be serving their entries at the Harvest Fair celebration this weekend too.

Salad – Charlie’s at the Windsor Golf Course, Windsor: Roasted Chicken, Farro & Quinoa Salad

Appetizer – Thai Time Asian Bistro, Santa Rosa: Fresh Summer rolls

Vegetarian Entree – Risibisi Restaurant, Petaluma: Risotto

Pasta Dish – Gaias Garden, Santa Rosa: Deconstructed Ravioli

Seafood Entree – Bear Republic Brewing Company, Healdsburg:
Salmon BLTA

Dessert – John Ash & Co, Santa Rosa: Bella Rosa Coffee S’mores Pie

During the ceremony, other important agriculture awards were handed out by Karissa Kruse, the executive director of Sonoma County Winegrowers, and videos were shown about each of the recipients. This year’s winners included: Shannon Donnell for Outstanding Young Person in Agribusiness; Marissa Ledbetter-Foster for Outstanding Young Farmer; Singing Frog Farms for Excellence in Food Production; Jackson Family Wines for Outstanding Sustainable Processor/Maker; and Redwood Empire Vineyard Management for Outstanding Sustainable Farmer.

“Sustainability is just the right thing to do,” said Kevin Barr, who accepted the award for his family’s company Redwood Empire Vineyard Management. “We have to make sure that the future generations can farm here too!”

To honor their contributions to Sonoma County over the years, Buck Sangiacomo of the Sonoma-based Sangiacomo Vineyards won the special award Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture for the over 1600 acres of vineyards his family farms in Sonoma Valley, Carneros, and the exciting Petaluma Gap region located in the southern portion of the Sonoma Coast appellation.

The other big honor went to Alexander Valley-based Robert Young Family, which received the “Methuselah Award” for Lifetime Contribution to the Sonoma County Wine Industry.

“It’s a celebration of who we are and what we do,” says Mike Martini, proprietor of Taft Street Winery and a member of the Harvest Fair Board of Directors, who was the emcee for this year’s event.

To buy tickets or see the more comprehensive list of Wine or Food Competition winners, visit www.harvestfair.org.

Craft Beer Fest on the river. . . Sept 17th

petcraftbeerMaybe not the river you are thinking of, but distinctive to Sonoma County nonetheless!  The Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival is coming, next Saturday September 17, from 1-5pm.

The festival will include 20 local breweries and some delicious bites.  Add live music to the mix, including our favorite little western swing band Sugar MoonHere is a preview. . .

Here comes the Meat! Cochon 555 feast this sunday August 2nd

Napa Valley’s cult-favorite-whole-animal-wood-fired-outdoor feast, brought to you by Cochon 555’S Heritage Fire, features 3000 pounds of fire kissed meat at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena this Sunday August 2nd, 3pm– 7pm.

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Join me and the Nerd Stalker for this one! The goal of the events produced by the team at Cochon 555 are to promote honest food artisans, celebrate family farms, and create culinary awareness for those hard working people responsibly raising heritage species. The events tilt the scales in favor of the farms and the relationship with the emerging chef community constantly struggling with paying premium food prices when the decision is made to serve their guests safer, flavorful food raised locally.

*Tickets available at COCHON 555*
A portion of the ticket proceeds will benefit St. Helena Farmers Market and the American Institute of Wine & Food. A group of celebrated butchers will host a Pop-Up Butcher Shop presented by Williams-Sonoma where 100% of the proceeds will benefit the students of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.

US vs. Belgium: It’s time for a frothy perspective

As much as I talk about wines, I must say that today’s World Cup game matching the United States vs. Belgium makes it impossible for me to resist my love for fine Belgium brew. Of course this includes the fine beers made by the Trappist monks at Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey in Chimay and other top producers in country like Duvel, Affligem and Leffe, as well as talented brewers who are making their stylized versions here in the United States like Ommegang Brewery in Cooperston, N.Y. and New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado.

CHIMAYWith that being said, here’s a link to the tasty article I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle Food & Wine section in May 2003:  “U.S. acquiring a taste for Belgian ales / Fruity, spicy, rich and brewed by monks“.

It’s also worth mentioning that I was quite honored to find out there is a reference to this article on the Wikipedia page for the Chimay Brewery. Pretty cool!

In short: No simple beers. No simple game. Long live fine Belgian beer, but today go Team USA!

Cheers, Christopher

P.S. For more information on the Chimay Brewery, their specialty beers and the fine cheese made by the Trappist monks, visit www.chimay.com.