Category Archives: Food

Tasty Treat from Trombetta Family Wines

Trombetta Family Wines at the recent #PetalumaGap “Wind to Wine” event (R to L): Rickey Trombetta Stancliff, Erica Stancliff and winemaker Patrick Sullivan.

Figs & Prosciutto!  How can two such succulent flavors not be fabulous together?  Here is a recipe from Trombetta Family Wines to share at those upcoming holiday events.  Your guests will thank you for it!  Pair, of course, with some fabulous wines.

Figs & Prosciutto

  • Wash figs and pat dry
  • Cut in halves from the stem to the bottom
  • Rub 2-3 drops of Balsamic vinegar on the exposed inside of the fig
  • Cut prosciutto into long thin strips, 1/2 inch wide by about 3 inches long
  • Wrap the prosciutto around the middle of the fig
  • Cut Fontina cheese into small 1/4 inch thick by 1/2 inch long pieces
  • Place the cheese on top of the fig
  • Place figs on cookie sheet and place under the broiler until the cheese melts (a couple of minutes)
  • Serve warm or at room temperature

Enjoy!

Art+FOOD+Wine at SVMA: Sunday Dec 11th

Don’t miss this last installment of Pairings for the Senses Art+FOOD+Wine is coming up on Sunday December 11th!

Join all-star chefs as they prepare creative pairings with art:
Saul Gropman of Cafe La Haye
Sondra Bernstein of the girl and the fig
Andrew Wilson of Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar
Ed Metcalfe of Shiso Modern Asian Kitchen
Carlo-Alessandro Cavallo of B&V Whiskey Bar and Grille

Tickets available at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art:
See you there! Christopher

“Memories: The Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection” exhibit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art includes a display of vintage sifters and other kitchen implements. (photo by John Burgess)
“Memories: The Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection” exhibit at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art includes a display of vintage sifters and other kitchen implements. (photo by John Burgess)

 

Valley of the Moon Thanksgiving Wine Picks!

Last year the Presidential Turkey served at the White House was the Nicholas White Turkey, a distinctive fluffy white breed with a bright red head that was developed in Sonoma Valley by George Nicholas at the Nicholas Turkey Breeding Farms in the 1950s.

Nov. 25, 2015: The President and his daughters Sasha and Malia participate in the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey pardon ceremony in the Rose Garden with National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas. Read more at http://www.businessinsider.my/white-houses-photos-pete-souza-2015-12/52/#q2TlPXhQlmJdjF3p.99
Nov. 25, 2015: The President and his daughters Sasha and Malia participate in the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey pardon ceremony in the Rose Garden with National Turkey Federation Chairman Jihad Douglas.
Read more at http://www.businessinsider.my/white-houses-photos-pete-souza-2015-12/52/#q2TlPXhQlmJdjF3p.99

For that occasion, I was honored to be asked to do a special set of Sonoma-based wine pairings with this culinary gem for President Barack Obama and his family, in association with the National Turkey Federation and Foster Farms, which raised this one-of-a-kind bird for the White House to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary.

As is the case with all holiday gatherings, the golden rule for pairings is to choose wines that complement the flavors of the turkey and other tasty dishes being served, instead of overwhelming them.

This year, published in the Valley of the Moon Magazine, are my Holiday Picks for 2016.

May all these wines bring you joy and holiday comfort!

Gloria Ferrer 2013 Blanc de Blancs Brut, Carneros:
Start the festivities off in style with this elegant chardonnay-based sparkling wine with alluring aromas and dazzling flavors of ripe pear, crisp apple, Meyer lemon, roasted nuts, baking spices, and a creamy texture that works wonders with fresh oysters, appetizers, starting courses, and saltier dishes served with turkey. $47

Gundlach Bundschu 2015 Dry Gewurztraminer, Sonoma Coast:
From the oldest family-owned winery in California, this classic Thanksgiving wine features tangy flavors of fresh melon, peach, grapefruit, white pepper, nutmeg and a crisp dry finish. Beyond the turkey, the perky acidity of this wine pairs extremely well with soups, salads, yams and sweet potatoes as well. $25

Westwood 2014 Estate Pinot Noir, Annadel Gap Vineyard, Sonoma County:
Crafted with pristine fruit grown on the northern edge of Sonoma Valley, this expressive new pinot noir is layered with elegant notes of ripe berries, cherry cola, vanilla, cinnamon, and silky texture. Try this pinot noir with fine cheeses, cranberries, wild mushrooms and all the fixings on the dinner table or delicious sandwiches the day after. $44

Ravenswood 2013 Red Blend, Pickberry Vineyards, Sonoma Mountain:
Celebrating their 40-year anniversary, winemaker emeritus Joel Peterson and the team at Ravenswood Winery have earned an international reputation as elite producers of zinfandel-based wines. But at the winery on Gericke Road in Sonoma, you can try other special releases, like the Pickberry Vineyards Red Blend, an intermingling of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, highlighted by generous flavors of ripe berries, dark plum, currants, wild herbs, and layers of spice. Rich, smooth and supple, the texture of this wine is a great complement to grilled vegetables, turkey, ham, and richer dishes served during the holidays. $50

Little Vineyards 2013 Syrah, Estate Grown, Sonoma Valley:
Syrah can provide that touch of spice to each course served during the holidays. A Gold winner at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair
in September, the Little Vineyards 2013 syrah features deep and rich notes of boysenberry, blackberry, lavender, licorice, vanilla, allspice, toasty oak and a persistent finish. Try this nicely balanced wine with tangy sauces, fresh herbs and savory dishes served with the turkey or red meats. $38

Giving a Local Edge to Holiday Cheer!

As the sixth largest economy in the world, it is safe to assume California residents are already going local.  This vintage article in the New York Times Eat Local; Drink European reminded us of how far we have come in doing just that,  supporting the amazing assortment wineries in of our great state.

shopsmallWhile this isn’t possible everywhere in the nation there are alternatives to wine when the aim is to support the local community.  Maybe a side dish at Thanksgiving?  Holiday shopping on Small Business Saturday?  Dishing out Christmas dinner at the local shelter?  Whatever you can contribute not only strengthens the local economy, but can give a well deserved warm fuzzy to liven up your personal celebrations!

Cheers & Happy Holidays from the Sawyer Family!

 

Art+MUSIC+Wine at SVMA: Saturday November 5th

The second installment of Pairings for the Senses Art+MUSIC+Wine at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is coming up on Saturday November 5th!

Little Vineyards will be poured and accompanied by the music of Sonoma vintner and rocker Rich Little.  Join me there, get your tickets!

little-family-vineyard-winery-front-1024x359

Also, don’t forget to mark your calendars and stay tuned for details about the last installment, Art+FOOD+Wine on December 3.

Glorious Bites Challenge elicits delicious food & photos!

gbites2Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards hosted the 2nd annual “Glorious Bites Challenge” this weekend, where three other judges and I selected Chera Little of Leander, Texas, as the 2016 winner, earning her bragging rights, a custom glass trophy and a check for $5000.  Her Miso-Maple Glazed Cod Wonton-Cho’s with Crispy Bok Choy Slaw has been deemed this year’s most glorious appetizer recipe in the country to pair with Gloria Ferrer’s sparkling Sonoma Brut. Little, who lost her husband just three months ago to brain cancer, said he encouraged her to enter the competition.  “My late husband was my biggest cheerleader.  He loved won tons, he loved cream cheese and he loved fish. This dish was inspired by him,” said Little.   “I am very excited and very humbled.  This has been an incredible experience. ”

Out of more than 1800 entries from 44 states, Little’s recipe rose to the forefront, bringing her to the semi-finals and ultimately to the winner’s circle at the final cook-off at Gloria Ferrer Winery on Saturday.   The judges unanimously enjoyed her recipe.

Joel Riddel, myself and Sara Deseran while Judging the Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites.
Joel Riddel, myself and Sara Deseran while Judging the Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites.

“I just loved the way the miso married so well with the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut,” said award-winning radio show Host and Producer Joel Riddell.

“I definitely thought it was the most complex dish. There were so many layers of flavors.  Every bite stood out and different elements played nicely with the wine,” said Sommelier, Wine Educator and Journalist Christopher Sawyer.

(Photos above: Three delicious entries and a bit of “ham” with colleagues Joel Riddell and Leslie Sbrocco.)

“I think we all agreed that this dish was really beautiful to look at and beautiful to taste.  It had it all the elements going on – bitter, salty, sweet—just a great dish,” according to Sara Deseran, Food Writer and Editor-at-Large for San Francisco magazine.

“Having tasted all the dishes previously at the semi-finals, I had no idea who would win today,” said Jennifer Luttrell, Keynote Glorious Bites Judge and Executive Chef for Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.  “It was really tough to choose, but Chera’s dish had really bright layers of flavors and complexity and, most of all, it was delicious with the Sonoma Brut.”

gbites5
Won tons stuffed by Diane Williams of Auburn, CA with Beef, Blue Cheese and Bacon.

All finalists’ appetizers were judged on originality, taste and ability to pair with the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut.  During the competition, the more than 200 guests in attendance were entertained by TV Host, Wine Expert and Author Leslie Sbrocco, known for her appearances on NBC’s The Today Show and as the host of Check Please! Bay Area and her newest show Taste This.  Attendees also voted on their favorite appetizer from among the four finalists.  Taking home the popular vote, or the “Pop Award,” was Diane Williams of Auburn, California, for her Triple “B” Won Tons with Beef, Blue Cheese and Bacon.

All recipes from the 2016 finalists are available for download from the Glorious Bites website: www.gloriousbites.com 

Sawyer-Casale Wine Education Series 2016: Côte de Nuits

For devoted Pinot Noir fans, all roads ultimately lead to the Côte de Nuits region of Burgundy, in France. Located between the historic city of Dijon to the north and the border with the Côte de Beaune to the south, this region is the birthplace of the noble Pinot Noir grape that is now grown in regions around the world.

burgundyThe history of winegrowing in the region dates back to 400 B.C. and the first formal viticultural practices were introduced to the area by the Romans in the 3rd century AD. Around the same time, the larger region was named for the Baltic tribe known as the Burgundians who came to the area to defend against the Germanic tribes moving south.

After earning a reputation for making high-quality red wines with Pinot Noir grapes indigenous to the area; the big turning point came when the physician for Louis XIV proclaimed that wines from Côte de Nuits offered health benefits to those who could get their hands on bottles from the region. Needless to say, the growing popularity of the wines from this region have made Côte de Nuits one of the most famous wine areas in the world.

In comparison to the 18 villages in the Côte de Beaune winegrowing region to the south; there are only 9 villages in Côte de Nuits. But on the flipside, the 24 Grand Crus in the smaller sub-appellations inside its borders are triple the amount found in Côte du Beaune.

Geographically, the region is very small. Running from village to village, the long strip of vineyards running from the hills to the villages and rivers range from 1.5 miles wide to only a ¼ mile at its most narrow points. With the exception of a small batch of white grapes grown in the hamlet of Musigny and a few other tiny sites; Pinot Noir is the exclusive grape of the entire region.

Each site has its own variation of soils. With that in mind, the best grapes are grown on slopes ranging from 800 to 1,000 feet, where the highest concentration of Marl (a combination of clay and limestone with smaller portions of sand and gravel) can be found. For this reason, the term terroir was ultimately defined by the vineyards of Cote de Nuits, especially at the famous grand cru sites that include: Romanée-Conti, La Tache, Richebourg, La Romanée, Romanée-St. Vivant and La Grand Rue around the village of Vosne-Romanée; Echézeaux and Grand Echézeaux around the hamlet of Flagey- Echézeaux; and the small monopole of Clos de Vougeot.

Granted, the limited releases from the grand cru sites of Côte de Nuits are often among the most expensive wines of the world. With these thoughts in mind, the latest study of the Sawyer-Casale series was focused premiers cru wines from the small AOCs of Chambolle-Musigny, Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey-St-Denis that make up the cooler northern section of the region.

Each of these small winegrowing areas have their own special strengths. Chambolle-Musigny, for example, is home to 24 premiers crus vineyards and a mixture of soils that create wines known for their floral aromas, concentrated flavors, a subtle layers of spice. Down the road, Gevrey-Chambertin is home to 26 Premiers Crus and 9 Grand Crus, the most of any village in Burgundy. In general, the wines from the region are elegant with plenty of depth and complex flavors. And although it is smaller and overlapped by the Bonnes-Mares region, Morey-St-Denis is home to 20 premiers cru and 4 grand crus. In general, the profiles of wines from this region tend to be more graceful and feminine with more emphasis on texture, acidity, and flavors of red fruits, forest, and earth. In general, high-quality wines from these three regions run from $65-$150, which makes them ideal for sommeliers, retailers and consumers looking to build a collection of ultra-premium wines from Côte de Nuits that give them more bang for the buck.

Tasting is Believing

To investigate these profiles in more detail, the Sawyer-Casale Wine Education Series invited a group of talented winemakers from Sonoma County and Napa Valley to a special tasting focused on the 2010, 2012 and 2013 vintages from the revered regions of Gervey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny and Morey-St-Denis, as well as a hidden gem from Oregon’s Willamette Valley provided by our host Don Sebastiani of Sonoma. All wines from Cote de Nuits were provided by our good friends at Aabalat Fine and Rare Wines in Petaluma, www.aabalat.com.

burgcorksThe special guest participating on the panel included winemakers Ana Moller-Racke of The Donum Estate, Steve MacRostie of MacRostie Winery, TJ Evans of Domaine Carneros, Kurt Beitler of Boheme Wines, Sean Foster of Starmont Wines, David Jelinek of The Prisoner Wine Co., Mike Cox of Schug Winery, David Marchesi of Madrone Vineyards Estate, Michael Scorsone of Emmitt Scorsone Wines, Alex Beloz of Tricycle Wine Co, Don Sebastiani, my colleague Keith Casale and myself.

All the wines were tasted blind and ranked on a 1-7 scale. #1 being the highest ranked of the bunch, #7 being the lowest. Here are summaries and rankings of the wines organized in the order we tasted the wines blind:

Theirry Mortet 2010 Clos Prieur, Gevrey-Chambertin

Details: As children, Theirry Mortet and his brother Denis grew up farming grapes at the Charles Mortet et Fils, a small domaine owned by their father. When the brand was splint in 1991, the brothers went off to start their own wineries. Today, Thierry works with 4.5 hectars he owns, including Clos Prieur, a special block located in the Gevrey-Chambertin AOC.

Panel descriptors: Dark red hue with a hint of purple with attractive aromas of dried cherry, ripe berries, black tea, wild mushrooms, violet, leather, and crushed rock. In the glass, the entry is tart at first, but opened up during the tasting. Highlights included vibrant notes of raspberry, red plum, stewed cherry, pomegranate, delicate herbs and mineral. Overall, a well-crafted medium-bodied wine, with generous mouthfeel, chalky tannins, bright acidity, and a long, clean finish.

Group discussion: Granted, this is the oldest wine in the tasting. But with that said, the tasting team thought there was a disconnection between the nose and the palate. While much of this was due to the tart flavors which eventually blew off with more time in the glass, the other quirky part was the hard tannins which covered the true flavors of the grapes. Evans, for instance, thought the ripe fruit aromas on the nose were very engaging, but was surprised that the palate was quite sharp, young, and fairly lean. Whereas, Scorsone liked the way that the oak was nicely integrated, but questioned the use of grapeseed tannins to make the wine more powerful than it needed to be. And Cox simply though the tart flavors took away from the balance. Overall, a good wine from Gevrey-Chambertin but not a show stopper.
Group Ranking: #6 of 7 / Price: $86.95

 Robert Groffier et Fils 2013 Seuvrees, Gevrey-Chambertin

Details: Robert Groffier and his son Serge have earned a reputation for making impact wines with deep flavors that are balanced with the minimal use of fine French oak to express the flavors of the site where the grapes are grown. This is one of those beauties that proves that point and then some.

 Panel descriptors: Classic pale red hue. Lovely mixture of earthy and floral aromas highlighted by black and blue fruits, rose petals, pie crust, ruby grapefruit peels, anise, moist soil, and a touch of French cellar funk. On the palate, the flavors are deep and sensual with notes of blueberry, wild strawberry, fresh sage, cocoa, savory spices, and toasty oak. Overall, a very well-structured wine that dazzles the mouth with dense tannins, layers of flavors and admirable length.

Group discussion: Led by layers of earthy notes, there is no doubt this is a classic Burgundy style. With a relatively low pH and high acidity, the wine kept changing in the glass. For that reason, it was a learning experience in liquid form. This process was helped along by the fact that the tannins became more resolved as the wine opened up once it got some air in the glass. In the end the wine was intriguing, complex and generous but not sweet. At under $100/bottle, it’s a great wine to age or explore after decanting for an hour before serving.
Group Ranking: #2 of 7 / Price: $88.95

 Drouhin Laroze 2013 “Les Rosette” Chambolle-Musigny

Details: Chateau

Panel descriptors: Pale ruby hue with fragrant scents of red berries, blue fruits, wet stone, wild herbs, leather and oak spice. In the mouth, the wine offers a nice textured entry with delicate flavors of ripe raspberry; plum, blueberry, sour cherry, cardamom, lavender and baking spices; a soft, velvety texture; moderate to low acidity; firm tannins; and great length at the end.

Group discussion: Another wine that smelled like a classic Pinot Noir-based wine from Burgundy. Besides the generous flavors, the team was also impressed by the great structure and balanced tannins that make it a very food-friendly wine. At  under $80, its a great value too.
Group Ranking: #3 of 7 / Price: 73.95

Domaine Dujac 2012 Chambolle-Musigny

Details: Founded by Parisian Jacques Seysses in 1968, Dujac has quickly become one the most respected brands in Côte de Nuits. The fruit they get from Chambolle-Musigny is from some of the top vineyards and the finished wines are consistently delicious.

Panel descriptors: Light ruby red hue with hints of purple and strong aromas of a fresh fruit basket, sweet cherry tarts, cola, orange peel, earth, potpourri, wet stone, and spice. Firm entry with rich, ripe and savory flavors of raspberry, cranberry, rhubarb, wild mushrooms, cinnamon, mint Indian spices, and an intriguing hint of roasted green bell pepper on the end. These components were further accentuated by the supple texture, dry tannins, and medium length.

Group discussion: Although the wine was initially reduced, many of the tasters were impressed how this medium-bodied wine opened up in the glass. The group agreed that the strength of the wine was at the front of the palate. For that reason, the flavors start to fade at the mid-point of each sip but compensates for it with wet stone/mineral notes on the finish. In the end, a relatively light wine on its feet but definitely a great example from Chambolle-Musigny and a nice crowd-pleaser to serve to people with a wide range of palates.
Group Ranking: #4 of 7 / Price: $106.65

Lucien Le Moine 2013 Clos des Ormes, Morey-St-Denis

Details: Based in Beaune, Lucien Le Moine is a high profile negotiant that sources fruit from the finest regions in Burgundy. In Robert Parker’s Buyers Guide, the wines produced by the company are in the high-ranked category of “excellent.”

Panel descriptors: Enchanting crimson hue and lofty aromas of ripe brambly fruits, roasted coffee, dried herbs, smoked bacon, and heavy use of sweet oak. Bright entry with rich flavors of high tone fruits, dark cherry, blackberry, cranberry, smoked meats, soy sauce, earth, firm tannins, and a touch of bitterness on the edges.

 Group discussion: There was no doubt about this being a wine about the winemaker not the vineyard. For starters, the wine was reductive, but got better as the wine opened up. But once you started getting more into the profile, the smoky oak profile overshadowed the core notes of sweet fruit and green olive. On top of that, there was a slight case of volatile acid, which did not balance with the flavor profile or how the wine works on the palate. On the brighter side, the tasting team liked the savory notes of fresh herbs and forest floor that opened up with more sips..
Group Ranking: #7 of 7 / Price: $89.95

 Domaine Dujac 2013 Morey-St-Denis

Details: Started from scratch by visionary Jacques Seysses in 1968, Dujac has become one of the special young brands that has helped put the Morey-St-Denis AOC on the map to stay. Meticulous with their use of oak on their premiere crus wines, their signature style from Morey-St-Denis typically has fragrant aromas and lifted fruit flavors that result in wines that get much better with more time in the cellar.

Panel descriptors: Crimson red with perfumed sniffs of fresh rose petals, red fruits, fresh herbs and spice. On the palate, delicate flavors of ripe raspberry, plum, cherry, mineral, chalky palate bright acidity, supple tannins, and great length. Luxury in a glass.

Group discussion: Extremely complex, elegant and refined. Scorsone thought it was soft, seamless, and commented that he enjoyed the wine’s “beautiful breathe of life and vitality in each sip.” Foster loves the elegant appeal of the wine and balance of flavors, mouthfeel, structure, and finish. His conclusion in two words: “seamless” and “yum!” Overall, a dazzling wine and a great example from Morey-St-Denis and the accessible gems Cote de Nuits has to offer in the US market.
Group Ranking: #1 of 7 / Price: $124.95

 Domaine Drouhin 2014 Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley

Details: What’s a Sawyer-Casale Brown Bag tasting without a little something special thrown into the mix? With that in mind, our fantastic host Don Sebastiani supplied the group with a special treat of the Domaine Drouhin 2014 Pinot Noir from the Dundee Hills region in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The Drouhin family has been making fantastic wines in Burgundy since the 1880s. For that reason, the establishment of Domaine Drouhin project with 225-acres of vineyards and a cutting-edge gravity flow system on the Dundee Hills in Oregon brought immediate attention to the Willamette Valley in the 1990s. And thanks to the French-Willamette Valley connection, the attention on world-class Pinot Noir has only increased from that point onwards on the West Coast as a whole!

Panel descriptors: Dark red hue with deep aromas of red and black fruits, brown sugar, vanillin, and integrated oak. On the palate, the entry is sweet and assertive with dynamic flavors of fresh raspberry jam, ripe boysenberry and light herbs. Overall, the wine is young, smooth, balanced and coats the mouth with ripe, juicy flavors that lead to a long finish that makes you want to investigate more in the next sip.

Group discussion: From the beginning, the riper fruit was an early clue that this was a New World wine. While the panel felt the weight of the wine was fantastic, there were a few references to confectionary sweetness on the palate caused by the very ripe fruit profile. Theses factors also provided more firmness in the mid-palate but not much acidity. For those reasons, the group felt the wine was more “jammy” and “hedonistic” than the offering from the Cote de Nuits.
Group Ranking: #5 of 7 / Price: $45 (Available at www.domainedrouhin.com)

Conclusion: Overall, a terrific showing from the northern AOCs of the Côte de Nuits region of Burgundy. All the wines involved in the tasting (including Domaine Drouhin) showed why the unique characteristics of the sites where the grapes are grown determines the complexity of flavors profiles and the ageworthiness of the finished wines from these special cooler climate regions.

Next up: Exploring the unique flavors and aromas of high-profile the unique Albarino grapes grown in the Rias Baixas region of Spain. Just one of the many new reports from the Sawyer-Casale Wine Education Series to close out the year in style!

Pairings for the Senses: Sunday Oct 16th

Join me for three spectacular Pairings for the Senses events this autumn at the Sonoma Valley Museum of ArtAll involving wine pairings!

son-mus-artThe first will be this Sunday October 16th,
Art+POETRY+Wine, where poets Indigo Moor, Dean Rader, Brynn Saito, and Tess Taylor will each read a selection of their poetry inspired by art in the Pairings exhibition.  Sonoma County wines, selected by myself, complement each poem/art pair.

Mark your calendars and stay tuned for details about
Art+MUSIC+Wine on November 5,  and Art+FOOD+Wine on December 3.

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.

[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.