The 16th Annual Wine Road Wine and Food Affair enjoyed sunny skies, warm temperatures, fall colors in the vineyards, the smells of an early harvest and great wines paired with delightful foods. Why would anyone be anywhere else if they could have been there?
The Wine and Food Affair is the third major event sponsored by The Wine Road and is the annual capstone event (the other two events are Winter WINEland held next on January 17th-18th, 2015 and Barrel Tasting, March 6th-8th and 13th-15th, 2015). Over 150 wineries participated this year and each one selected a favorite food and the perfect wine to pair with it. Each ticket holder received a calendar, new this year, prepared specially for the The Wine Road and member wineres. In some cases the winery employs a caterer or a local restaurant chef to prepare the food pairing while others employed their own Estate Chef to prepare the food.
There were many highlights this year, as usual, but you deserve selective and discriminating reporting. Make no mistake, the adjectives employed to describe these 4 out of 100 are adjectives that could and likely are being used to describe dozens of other participating wineries. After all, the typical ticket holder might only experience 10-12 wineries over the two days unless they were being chauffeured on a well planned route and spent less than 20-25 minutes at each winery. Remember, despite there being only one wine and food pairing at each winery, they are typically pouring 3-5 other wines, at their discretion. So onward considering these are the ramblings of only one person’s experience!
New Kid on the Block: Friends and co-owners Craig Colagrossi and Michael Cox have been making small batch premium wines since the early 2000’s. Craig specializes in Italian varietals but with a unique bent for blending these select California grapes. Choosing the name Colagrossi Wines, the partners have shared winemaking space at other wineries but recently opened a new winery and tasting room on 7755 Bell Road in Windsor. Craig’s mom prepared a scrumptious Mac & Cheese to pair with his 2012 L’Inizio, a Grenache Blanc (50%), Roussanne (25%) & Viognier (25%) blend from Paso Robles. Flavorful and perfect! Tasting Friday to Sunday 10am – 6pm and Monday to Thursday by appointment only. 707-529-5459.
Just keeps keeping on: Christina Hanna, President of Hanna Winery & Vineyards, took over for her father Dr. Elias Hanna, over 25 years ago. Hanna owns 600 acres in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and the Mayacamas Mountains. Winemaker, Jeff Hinchliffe, crafts award-winning wines delivering consistent quality to the consumer. Hanna is known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay but produces excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. They produce about 50,000 cases per year. The pastoral Mediterranean style tasting room is located at 9280 Highway 128 and is open daily. Very worthy of your time.
Elegantly Idyllic: Chalk Hill Winery is one of four jewels in the Foley Family crown in Sonoma County. Established by Fred Furth in the 1980s, Foley purchased it in 2010 and has continued to enhance the brand while maintaining its iconic status. The 278 acres of vineyards on the 1200+ acre property between Healdsburg and Santa Rosa is an amazing destination. The Estate boasts an Estate Chef, Estate Gardens and an exquisite tasting room. Executive Chef Ryan Freebern created wonderful Sweet Pea Shooters. Chilled and refreshing. The tasting room is open daily from 10am-4pm. Questions at 707-657-4837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unpretentious but substantial: A more recent development at the Sonoma based Foley Family Wines is Roth Estates whose entrance is directly across Chalk Hill Road from Chalk Hill Winery. The Roth brand had previously been known as a second label at Lancaster Estates Winery (also on Chalk Hill Road) and when Foley acquired Lancaster Estates from Ted and Nicole Simpkins in 2012 he acquired the Roth brand. Since then he has built an entire winery, tasting room and, soon to open, wine caves at the newly developed Roth Estates facility. Roth produces about 35,000 cases per year with a growth plan to reach 50,000 cases. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are quite good but the Sauvignon Blanc is award winning and worth a visit all by itself. Tasting and tour specials can include small bites or lunch. Open daily from 10am – 4pm. 707-836-7030 or email@example.com.
Perennial Favorite: The Lamb Sugo dish created by Kendall Jackson Estate Chef Justin Wangle was mouthwateringly delicious. Chef Justin paired the lamb with the 2012 Jackson Estate Outland Ridge Pinot Noir. A symphony of harmony! The regular tasting was capped off by the 2007 Grand Reserve Late Harvest Chardonnay matched with a Carmel Popcorn. A mouth surprise that shakes your palate into submission. KJs Wine and Visitors Center offers so much that any visit to the Russian River Valley should include or even begin at this elegant venue.
The Northern Sonoma County Wine Road, Wine and Food Affair is an exceptional event that should never be missed. Mark your calendars, make a reservation at one of the 60 member lodging establishments and spend a glorious weekend in Sonoma Wine Country November 7th-8th, 2015.
The Wine Road was formed in 1976 as the Russian River Wine Road. In 2008 the organization was updated to Wine Road of Northern Sonoma County as a winery association which represents over 150 wineries and 50 associate lodging members within the three North County AVA, the Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley and the Dry Creek Valley.