Posts Tagged ‘food’

Eating Real Food

I recently had an interesting epiphany regarding food. I have the interesting fortune to work in the kind of company that always has a fully stocked kitchen. I remember starting my first week and hearing “Everyone gains 15 pounds when they start here.” Great – exactly what any young woman wants to hear…


I've been here well over a year and while I haven't gained 15 big ones I definitely have seen an increase in the numbers on the scale and a few more curves where there were none before. I'm pretty good at working out, choosing to walk places, and in general have a high energy level but there is one thing that I can't control – I'm an eater. I love food and I have a huge appetite for someone my size (often to the complete astonishment of everyone around me). So what's a girl to do? Starving isn't an option.

Well, in an office full of candies, sodas, and chips, I knew the solution had to come from a different angle. I had to stop eating junk food. The temptation of going in the kitchen and grabbing one (or 6) Starbursts or a handful of chips is really high. Since the kitchen is also home to our printer, avoiding it isn't an option.

The only way to really make a change is just to say 100% no junk food. If you read the label and there is anything you didn't expect to be in it – it's not food, it's chemicals. This experiment has been more interesting that I'd originally thought it would be. It's always fun to look at a food item and wonder if the ingredients line up with what you'd expect. The bag of almonds we get buy discount cialis online at work? One ingredient – almonds. Chocolate covered fruit? More chemicals than in a high school labratory. Egg Beaters – only have eggs.

While cutting out the junk food has been a good start to capping the weight gain, it does leave another problem – what can I snack on? Snacking is healthy and natural. It's good for the metabolism and keeps people from over-eating at regular meals so I needed to find other things to eat. The best solutions have been nuts and a lot of fresh fruit. I've ordered some other natural snacks too and I'm excited to try them out.

Today I was sitting at my desk with a carton of blueberries happily munching away and thinking about how healthy can also mean delicious. That's not what inspired this post though. As a bit of a messy eater, I unsurprisingly dropped one of my berries and watched it roll under my desk. I have no idea how many M&Ms have had the same fate but for the first time ever I stopped to think “I need to find that berry or it's going to rot.” And then it dawned on me… isn't there something wrong with the fact that I never thought about that with the other snacks I've dropped? Shouldn't we be a little worried that we are eating things that don't decompose? I've seen the forces of nature do everything from caving my expertly carved pumpkins a week before Halloween to tearing down buildings. If nature can't handle an M&M – then what's that candy doing in my stomach?

Food is amazing and delicious but some of the things we are eating – can we really call it food? It's been interesting to take a step back and try to get food closer to where it comes from, with as little added to it as possible. Tying out this new way of eating started out an an experiment of sorts but it's quickly becoming a mindset, maybe even a lifestyle change.


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Our Christmas Menu – Courtesy of Social Media Site Pinterest

The brief piece we did at Thanksgiving “Our Menu for Turkey Day, and a Great Visual Site – Pi

nterest” was actually quite popular, so we thought we’d do similar for our meal today.

Pinterest holds viagra china a lot of potential as a social media site. Don’t let the fact that you have

to request an account deter you – one comes fairly quickly.Pinterest Logo


You must also take the time to add buttons to your browser to ‘pin’ things, but the Pinterest site has good help. Simply go to the ‘About’ pulldown option on their website and click ‘Pin it
iPhone and iPad pinning can also be done, but is a bit trickier. Pinterest has a good article here on how to.

Crown Roast

The Meal

This time, rather than cut and paste all the pictures from Pinterest, I am going to let you use the platform and click the link:

This link brings you to the ‘board’ I have created, where I re ‘pinned’ things from Michelle, who put a variety of ideas on her board for me to choose from.

You can then click on each picture and pin it to your own board. You may also launch to the original source website and find the recipe.

Viral food porn and crowd sourcing all in one!



Now, back to Christmas. Warm wishes from Simple Hedonism, thanks for following us over the years. Cheers!


Sonoma Holiday Wine Market delights with Wine, Food and Local Color

Dane Cellars Santa in "Floods"

The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Association “Wine Market – Holiday Edition” proved to be a great opportunity to taste from 27 wineries in one place, including small producers not open to the public. Here you could taste, then purchase unique wines at fantastic savings. Excellent food tastings, and food-wine pairing advice was available from local Sommeliers  – in Santa hats no less.  Last not least, you could speak with the winemakers … and see what characters they can be!

Santa in Floods? Bart Hansen, winemaker at Dane Cellars, says he spends most of the year in Bermuda shorts. When Sonoma temps hit 75’ F on December 2, he rolled out to the event in his special Santa Floods.  The Dane Cellars Clarksburg 2009 Chenin Blanc he poured is richer bodied than a Sauvignon Blanc, making it a was a good wine for a sunny winter day and a perfect match for the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese served up by the girl and the fig.

Santa Sommeliers. What is a sommelier (so-mel-yay)? A “Somm,” or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional specializing in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food matching.  Three certified Somms in Santa hats roamed the floor at the “Wine Market – Holiday Edition” event, helping guests with wine advice, pairing, and directing them to wine specials.

Eric Ross "Struttin' Red"

Cocky Wine: Eric Ross 2010 Struttin’ Red

Eric Luce, winemaker at label Eric Ross, invites you to taste his red blend of the year. 2010 is a unique blend of Tempranillo, Old Vine Zin and Petite Sirah. It screams out for a really good Cheeseburger. Failing to find any cheeseburgers, this wine was great with the Truffle Gateau chocolates featured at the Market.

Consumers have many benefits to gain from a single-location event like this. To name a few:

  1. Access unique fine wines and local cuisine
  2. Lower prices on quality wines
  3. Remove the driving around from a wine-tasting outing – all the wines and food, all in one place
  4. Access to *Santa Sommeliers* to advise on matching foods with the wines you like
  5. Buy where you taste and take your wine home with you!

I had a conversation with Christopher Sawyer, Somm at Carneros Bistro in Sonoma. I asked Chris how one should go about pairing up wines with a meal. “First of all, the method should be reversed. Decide your menu, then match the wine to it.”  OK, I said, then to break the rules a bit, let’s say I’ve got a Zinfandel from Haywood Winery, which is pouring here today. Chris suggests, “This is a supple, medium body Zinfandel that gives you a lot of flexibility with the food pairing. Game. Duck. Spicy pork with compote on the side. Strip steak. And of course Ribs will go well with Zin.”

Christopher Sawyer "Santa Sommelier"

Wines of note:

Eric Ross 2010 Marsanne-Roussane. Your guests will appreciate when you serve this unique white. Winemaker

Eric Luce blends two grapes from the famed SaraLee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley to make a wine in the Rhone style that everyone’s talking about.  Full-bodied, food-ready, and a great under-$30 wine to diversify your palate.  It paired with the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese and I would recommend it with any cheese.

Dane Cellars 2007 Jackknife Cabernet Sauvignon. When you are looking for full-flavored, medium-bodied Cab, the Jackknife is a great choice. From a vineyard high above Sonoma Valley, with volcanic soils and generous late afternoon sun, this wine explodes with fruit and complex flavors. Sommelier Sawyer says:  “With a medium-bodied cab like Dane Cellars’ Jackknife you have more flexibility in your menu – you can pair with red meat or you can go with a bigger fish such as sturgeon or tuna prepared with a soy sauce.”

Pip 2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  Undecided between oaked and unoaked? You can’t go wrong with this under $20 wine from Dunstan, from famed Durrell Vineyards blended with nearby grapes, then aged in 1/3 neutral oak and 2/3 stainless steel.  The resulting Chardonnay will please both the oaked and unoaked taste, as the neutral oak imparts lovely vanilla aromas and softness while the stainless steel defines the varietal character and imparts a crisp finish.  Another great match for the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese.

Abigail Zimmerman of Annadel Estate Wines

Best new wine find: 

Annadel Estate 2008 Anni’s Blend is an instantly memorable red wine that’s also easy to pair with food.  I got rich fruit medleys and a velvety mouth feel from this blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. For a Cab-Merlot blend like this, you could even serve it with a Mac & Cheese dish with toasted walnuts and mushrooms, according to Sommelier Sawyer.  The adjacent “Coppa & Apple Mostarda on Foccacia” from Estate went well.  Annadel Estate Winery is the effort of a family who are restoring an 1880’s vineyard estate in the region. Expect to hear more about their wines soon.

There were many more varietals and examples of great winemaking available for taste. I can’t cover them all here. See what you missed and check back soon for upcoming events at the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance website.

On my Christmas wishlist:






Menu for Turkey Day, and a Great Visual Site – Pinterest

After a few crazy months I decided to go away the two days prior to

Thanksgiving and explore Amador County, and then spend the day here, tucked away with a fire, wine, and lots of food courses to cook.

I just started using a  great website social media site, Pinterest, to pin ideas. This easy to use site is a great way to quickly drop web links and viagra sales in canada pictures to share, and creates eye candy with a few drag and drops. With a few more features and social media integration, this site could be very compelling for photo blogging.

What We Are Cooking Today

The recipes were all gathered, with a visual feast, on a Pinterest board: Thanksgiving Dinner. It was my job to pick and shop.

The Menu

After mimosas and some pumpkin pancakes (great mix from Trader Joes) We’ll be jumping into:

Starter: Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto

Picture of Cheese-Stuffed Dates with Prosciutto Recipe

Salad:  Roasted Beets and Carrots with Goat Cheese Dressing

Pinned Image

The Bird: Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy 

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Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy


Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

Muffin-Pan Potato Gratins


 Dessert!! Apple Cider Cream Pie

 Apple Cider Cream Pie

Now to pick the wine pairings, and enjoy a simply hedonistic day in Wine Country.

Warmest wishes and thanks today to our friends, family, and readers. Cheers!

Related Articles:

Simple Hedonisms – Simple Suggestions For Thanksgiving Wine Pairings


Saturday Nov 19th is Artisano – One of My Favorite Small Producer Food & Wine Events.

I was hooked on Artisano when I attended the first event 2 years ago and look forward cheap viagra from canada to the third. This year the event moves from Geyserville Inn (which I really liked) to the Vintners Inn, in Santa Rosa. (Which I can't

complain about, since its very close by!)

This events features small wine producers, whom at time of selection do not have a public tasting room, so this is a chance to taste wines you can't just walk into anywhere. I have discovered great vintners like Skewis, Skipstone, and Duxoup in previous years. Faves like Cartograph and Stark are to be found this year.


Acorn, Capture, Cartograph, PreVail, De Novo, Skipstone, Stark, Reynoso and Pech Merle.


Affronti, Dry Creek Kitchen, Diavola, Estate, Jackson’s, John Ash, Mugnaini Wood Fired Pizza, Petite Syrah, Spoonbar and Girl & The Fig.

PLUS: Achadinha Goat Cheese, Bellwether Farms, Bleating Heart Chesese, Dry Creek Peach and Produce, Delice de la Vallee, Jim town Store, Laura Chenel, Marin French Cheese, Redwood Hill, Salt Side Down Chocolates, Skipstone Ranch, Sonoma Chocolatiers and Terra Sonoma. Oh and Bear Republic offers up beer.

In addition to wine and food tastings, the Grand Tasting includes chef demonstrations by John

Toulze of The Girl & the Fig, Brian Anderson from Bistro 29 and Shelly Kaldunski, author ofCupcakes, The Art of the Cookie; as well as a silent auction, raffle, several of the region's premier artists, and live music courtesy of The Susan Comstock Swingtet. 

Tickets and Info

Artisano's full weekend of activities includes a WINEMAKER DINNER on Friday evening at John Ash & Co. Restaurant (tickets no longer available), and a HARVEST DINNER on Saturday evening at John Ash & Co.

Tickets are available online for $65 in advance or $75 at the door, if they don't sell out prior.

Tickets and information are available here:

Simple Hedonisms will be there, hope to see you too!

The event is a benefit for Slow Food Sonoma County, with a portion of the revenue going to help School Garden Projects in Cloverdale, Geyserville, Healdsburg, Windsor and Santa Rosa.

Related Articles

Artisano – Slow Food meets Wine Country


Our Highlights of Passport to Dry Creek: Food & Music Pairings

Take a pristine, gorgeous day with spectacular vistas in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, California. Combine it with a wide range of wine varietals and styles. Add generous portions of thoughtfully paired foods. Mix it up with music and friends – blues, salsa and even zydeco – and you have the makings of a weekend that brings together all of my favorite things. And, all the wineries have specials, case discounts, and in some cases $1 case shipping – a big saving for travelers. One of the best things about this wine event is the active involvement of the vintners, winemakers, vineyard managers, owners, and family members in serving the foods, pouring the wines, and mingling freely with the guests to share their perspectives on the wines.

This was Passport to Dry Creek 2011. Here are some highlights:

Day One

Dutcher Crossing: Coconut Prawn Cones with Mango Chili Sauce paired with 2009 Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc. The taste is unique on this SB made with 9% Viognier, 7% Semillion, and 1% Roussane. It was well chilled and paired nicely with the prawns.

I found a hidden surprise in the tasting room: 2006 Dutcher Dry Creek Port, fortified with brandy and made from 40% Cabernet and 60% Syrah, all grown on the estate.  The port was dark and chocolat-ey.  Extra points for pairing it overnight canadian viagra with Frozen Chocolate Whoppie Pies – two pieces of soft Oreo crust wrapped around a dollop of frozen chocolate ice cream. Yummy.

Sbragia Family: 2008 Gamble Family Ranch Chardonnay (grapes from Napa), paired with bean and pasta soup with Pancetta.  I prefer unoaked, and this Chardonnay is made with oak. But it’s subtle oak flavors — without the buttery mouth feel and syrupy texture of so many over-done Chardonnays — made it highly drinkable.

Besides the wine, food, and hospitality, location is the highlight of Sbragia. The winery is a stunning building perched on a ridge opening to views all the way to Marin. By the time I got there the temperatures were in the high 70s, and live music from the terrace was filtering out over the property. Sbragias’ good wine and kitchen make this a must-stop for future tasting days.  Now that summer weather is here, check the website for regularly scheduled music dates. An added bonus when you’re there: In the Italian tradition, Sbragia shares recipes from their kitchen. I took home a “Skewered Herb Crusted Pork Loin with Dried Fig Sauce,” recipe card from the tasting room – can’t wait to try this.

Unti Vineyards: Unti sells about 50% of their 60 acres worth of grapes to other wine-makers.  I’ve had wine made with Unti grapes, but this was my first visit and first taste of their wines.  The Grenache wines were the highlight for me. Two: a 2010 Rose of 75% Grenache and 25% Mourvedre that was a lovely peach color, ultra-dry, 13.5% alcohol wine. Chilled, it’s a perfect lunchtime wine.  And the 2007 Grenache itself was my favorite red wine of the day. Paired with a blues vocalist and tortilla nacho plate with melted cheese from Nicasio Valley Cheese Company. Thumbs-up.

Mazzocco. I couldn’t pass up the Cuban music and food theme at this wonderful winery location. Orchestra Borenquen and Zinfandel? Yes! The pairing was Flank Steak with Chimichuri and Saffron Prawns. It was the best food of the day.  In addition to other varietals, Mazzocco makes vineyard-designate Zinfandels from 9 ranches in the region. They were barrel-tasting 4 of their 2010 Zinfandels for Passport. I favored the Stone Ranch Vineyard – their only Alexander Valley Zinfandel. Tasting right from the barrel, the wine was soft, fruity and naturally balanced. The Stone Ranch 2009 was sold out; but there were good discounts available on futures.

The Mazzocco property was beautifully laid-out for the event. The orchestra was shielded by a gigantic sunshade. Flank steak was cooked to order, perfuming the air. A Cigar Loft stood slightly away from the center, completing the Cuba theme.

Seghesio Family. Seghesio went to town with a “Big Easy” theme. I loved the Cajun Barbequed ribs as served up by Pete Seghesio. They were meaty and succulent and went well with some of the featured Italian varietals such as a tobacco-ey 2008 Alexander Valley Sangiovese and a Zinfandel – Petite Sirah blend called “San Lorenzo.”

The Big Easy backdrop was the sounds of Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic.  A local bay area group, Andre Thierry’s accordion brings his music heritage from southwest Louisiana together with an R&B sensibility to create upbeat and highly danceable music.  If there had been a dance floor at Seghesio you would have seen some zydeco dancing too. As it was, the shaded venue on a warm afternoon was perfect … Mardi Gras beads handed out at the door and a glitter tattoo station completed the theme. That and the fresh beignets at the end of the tasting line.

Day Two

A. Rafanelli. It’s always special to taste the limited production, handcrafted wines of the Rafanelli family. Even more special to visit this historic homestead winery, which is open by appointment only. And on Passport weekend the Rafanelli’s went “all-out.” I spoke to a number of people who return here each year for Passport. The 2008 Rafanelli Zinfandel and 2008 Rafanelli Cabernet – both of Dry Creek Estate-grown grapes – were pouring.

With this there were 5 food stations with 3 dishes each. Five stations! Fried artichoke hearts with Parmesan sauce, steak marinated and cooked in heaps of fresh rosemary, roasted red potatoes to name a few of the small bites offered each guest. The final station is two tables of chocolates.  Two tables! The interplay of chocolate, Zin and Cab was sublime.  Back outside the sounds of a traditional Italian trio with accordion and vocals set a festive mood.

Mounts Family. The short drive up to Mounts was worthwhile. The new 2010 Estate “Pink” Syrah (a light rose’) and delicate yet well-structured 2008 Estate Malbec were standouts, as was the shaded belly-dancing pavilion in the middle of a benchland vineyard just above the Dry Creek Valley floor.  Middle-Eastern foods and a mini-cupcake of ginger capped with incredible syrah frosting completed the experience.

Quivira. A biodynamic winery and farm, Quivira served the only Sauvignon Blancs of the day. Both from the same vineyard and vintage but made in two different styles. One produced in pure stainless and the other in neutral oak with new acacia barrels and a hint of Viognier. I surprised myself by liking the acacia-fermented taste. Both wines were crisp and refreshing on the warm afternoon, and paired with small savory bites to enhance. My friend Sheri found her favorite wine of the day – a GSM+ red blend at Quivera.  Called Elusive, the wine is 34% Syrah, 32% Grenache, 28% Mourvedre, 6% Petite Sirah. Quivera was also pouring a Mourvedre made from locally grown grapes; unusual because it is made without blending – it’s 100% Mourvedre.  Mushrooms and blueberries delighted us in this wine.

Passalacqua. This is a charming winery hidden in plain sight across the road from Dry Creek Vineyards.  I loved the gardens and vistas from their back deck, and their 2007 Sangiovese. This is a well-balanced Dry Creek Sangio with a highly satisfying tannic finish on it. Paired with flatbread pizza and Chocolate mousse gelato.

Mike Farrow, Amista



Amista Vineyards. I wasn’t hungry but I couldn’t pass up the Truffle Mac-n-Cheese with Arugula at Amista. It set off the Amista Syrah wines so nicely that I joined the wine club and brought some home. As a wine-club member I had access to the 2007 Syrah and a Sparkling Syrah that is not sold to the public. And soon a new Rockpile Cabernet will be available to members only. I’d been eyeing the Amista wines, their club and cooking events for some time.  With the club benefits and entry-level membership, the time was right. We ended our tasting on a jolly note with proprietor and vintner Mike. A must-visit anytime you roll down Dry Creek Road.


(Note from William – special thanks to Katherine for covering this event, and doing a great write up so quickly. I had previously accepted a Media invite to Hospice du Rhone in Paso Robles, so she attended and covered.)



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Wine Goings-on in and around town of Sonoma August 7-8th

Sonoma Valley and surrounds are characterized by family-owned wineries large and small. Here are a few weekend events offering a chance to taste artisan and estate wines of some of Sonoma’s family vintners. You’ll find the winemakers on hand to answer your questions too. (Check Simple Hedonisms for tips on how to plan for a day of wine-tasting.)

8th Street Wineries Open House

August 7 – 11:00am-4:00pm. On Saturday August 7 you can taste wines from 10 artisan wineries matched with top-notch food pairings, converse with the winemakers, even meet the winery dogs – all in one warehouse complex in Sonoma. Over the past year, Sonoma’s 8th Street Wineries collective has grown from 8 to 10 wineries, representing at least 15 different varietals – most of them Sonoma-grown. The wineries are independently owned, most wines are limited production, and many of them are unavailable to taste – other than a at few exclusive restaurants. This bi-annual open house is a chance to experience hard-to-find wines and the unique personality of each winery warehouse. You’ll find the winemaking philosophy of each producer reflected in their workspace.

Chef John McReynolds

Doors open at 11:00am when you pick up your “Passport” and enjoy some tasting at renowned MacRostie Winery.  After visiting MacRostie, cross the street to visit 9 more wineries. Get your Passport stamped at each winery, and submit it for the wine raffle when you leave. Three names will be selected to receive 3 half-case selections from the 8th Street Wineries.

Rosso Pizzeria will bring their wood-fired pizza oven for pairings at  Tin Barn and Kamen Estate. Sage Fine Foods of nearby Cornerstone Sonoma, and John McReynolds — chef and olive oil meister at new 8thStreet winery Stone Edge Farms — are among the other purveyors. Each warehouse sets up their own food station, so expect some yummy surprises.

Eighth Street Wineries is an informal collective comprised of [winery/winemaker]:

Open Warehouses at 8th Street Wineries

Many awards and accolades are attributed to this collective of wineries. For instance, Tin Barn was awarded 5 medals at this years’ San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, including a Double Gold for their 2007 Zinfandel from Russian River Valley. In recent news, new member Kamen Estate was cited in a New York Times article on California Syrah.

Current releases, new releases, library wines and barrel tastings are offered. The price of $30 per person ($20 for wine club members of any 8th Street winery) includes tastings, pairings, and a souvenir wine glass. Parking is free and once parked, you can walk from winery to winery. Each winery will also have special discounts running this day. The most recent open house in February drew over 700 guests. I was there and can’t wait to return. The quality of the wines, enhanced by foods and conversations with the winemaking families make this a memorable experience. Come early for best selection and savory food pairings. Purchase advance tickets here.

Tip: Check back with Simple Hedonisms on Tuesday August 3rd for a contest to win free tickets!

Muscardini Cellars 5th Annual Barrel Tasting

August 7th and 8th, 12:00-5:00pm. This year’s Barrel Tasting will be held at the Muscardini Estate ~ Monte Terra, where guests can enjoy an afternoon in the courtyard, by the koi pond and under the oaks. Tickets are a steal at $20 – including a tour of the Estate Sangiovese vineyard, live music, delectable food and wine pairings, and special wine discounts. 2009 futures from the barrel as well as current releases will be tasted. Buy tickets here.

GunBun Summer Film Festival

August 7 at 7:00pm. Saturday is Movie Night at Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu Estate Winery. This evening features the 1996 film Swingers. Gun Bun’s annual night under the stars features a high-energy local band at 7pm, followed by the movie at dusk. Bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy an evening under the stars. Wines available for purchase. $10/pp advance tickets to film; $15/pp tickets at door. Buy tickets here.

Screening of Smokestack Lightening, a Day in the Life of Barbecue with Lolis Eric Eliez

Lolis Eric Eliez and Sheana Davis

August 8th, 6:00-10:00pm. Sonoma’s own Epicurean Connection hosts an evening of food, wine, dancing to live music that is sure to be PRIMAL! Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans based writer and filmmaker and recognized expert on New Orleans food and culture, is the author of Smokestack Lightening: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country and co-producer of the documentary based upon the book. Elie most recently joined the staff of the HBO series Treme. He also produced and wrote the PBS documentary Faubourg Treme.

Memphis Minnies, The Epicurean Connection & Wild Thyme Catering and Events will cook a Barbecue dinner. Highway 12 Winery and Vineyards & Spann Vineyards will pour their wines, and beer will be available from Moonlight Brewing Company & Uncommon Brewers. Local group The Hellhounds will play for dinner and dancing. The event will be held at Wild Thyme. Cost is $45 per person, and includes screening, dinner and dancing. Tickets are available at The Epicurean Connection, Wild Thyme & Readers’ Books in Sonoma. For more information, call 707-935-7960 or Proceeds from this event benefit Southern Foodways Alliance.

Fun times at Holiday in Carneros

The weekend of Nov. 21-22 was the Holiday in Carneros event, with over 20 wineries participating.  The event is sponsored by Hospitality de Los Carneros (“HDLC”), which is a collective of Napa and Sonoma wineries located within the Carneros Appellation.Wine, Song, Love

I don’t make it down to ‘the Valley’ – a/k/a Sonoma Valley, as much as I’d like to, so I was glad that this weekend didn’t have a lot of events to compete with Holiday in Carneros.  I had previously stumbled upon the similar “April in Carneros” event last year, and had a good time, so I was really looking forward to going back.

Taking my own advice from my post on the Wine Road Wine and Food Affair, I took the time to do some planning.  The HDLC website helped by providing a well marked map, and a handy list of who was offering what. I was a bit surprised to see some number of Carneros wineries did not participate, especially the many of the ‘tin warehouse’ wineries on 8th Street. (Lets see some Appellation Solidarity.) But, there were more than enough wineries to visit for the day. Printing out the Map and the Event details, I laid out a plan that took me to mostly wineries I had not visited before, and had varietals, and descriptions that interested me.

Having just returned back home after being in Portland all week (again), I decided to rest up on Saturday, and make a full day of it on Sunday. This turned out to be prudent, as several wineries reported that the crowds were lighter on Sunday, which allowed more quality time to interact with winemakers. I also followed my own advise about carrying a spit cup, and brought my own.  For the most part, toting around a spit cup not only helped my tasting, but it also occasionally impacted what I was served.  At one winery, a less experienced pourer gave me a funny look, in others I was offered tastes of wines not on the “menu.”


After a good start of a mimosa and pumpkin Belgian waffles, I made the trek down to the Valley. My check-in point was at Roshambo, which I chose simply because it was close to Gloria Ferrer. (Gloria Ferrer did not participate in Holiday in Carneros, but I had a wine club pickup there.) I hadn’t had Roshambo wines in a few years (in fact, they were still in Dry Creek Valley last visit), so I figured it was about time. Plus, I had driven by Cornerstone Place many times, and never stopped in. Glad I did, as I had a nice visit with Steve Morvai, the G.M. who has been with them quite awhile. Steve was pouring a Sauvignon Blanc, their ‘Justice’ Syrah, the ‘Rock’ blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Syrah, and a Grenache. I liked them all, but the Grenache really caught my attention, as less common varietals often do. There was a huge case sale on it, so guess what I walked out with.

Cornerstone looked like a cool place, but my mission to hit 8 wineries in 4.5 hours didn’t leave me a ton of time. I did stop to scarf down 2 pieces of pizza from Kashaya’s Pizza – straight from their cool brick oven on wheels. Pizza was being served complimentary as part of the event for the 3 wineries pouring there. Santa Rosa based, I’d recommend Kashaya to any winery wanting food for an event.


Dogs like Wine Country too!For those of you that think Social Media doesn’t draw traffic, think again. I didn’t really know Anaba, and it wasn’t on my initial list.  However that morning, I Tweeted about the wineries where I WAS planning to stop, and got a note back from Anaba with a sad face and ”No Anaba?”  As a result of Anaba noticing, and replying to my tweet, I began to read up on it.  Learning that Anaba was a “new winery” with”Rhone and Burgundian style wines,” I appended my itinerary. I was glad I did. The facility is comfortable and non-pretentious. Everyone was friendly. And GREAT Rhone whites.

Side note for you red wine only drinkers –I was one of you once — branch out! Especially try some of the more full-bodied Rhone whites like Viognier, Roussanne,  and Marsanne. I observed a lot of people skipping the whites, and remembered doing the same thing myself once, but I was glad I didn’t skip these. ‘Coriol’ is a blend of the above 3, plus Grenache Blanc, with a wonderful, floral nose, and a good mouthfeel. Their Viognier was even better, and I bought a bottle. I also enjoyed their Sonoma Coast Pinot, and Coriol red, a Rhone blend of  Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise, and Petire Sirah. (The latter being an ‘adopted’ Rhone varietal.) If you like desert wines, Anaba also makes a late harvest Viognier, and red and white ports.

The tasting room staff was young, but very attentive and knowledgeable. I’d have liked to learn a bit more about the genesis of the winery, and the owners/family were supposedly lurking in the back.  They should take a lesson from the Ceja’s and work the visitors; stories sell wine!

IMG_0280Ty Caton, Parmalee Hill – Eighth Street Wineries

Next, I h eaded over to Eighth Street, where 3 more wineries were pouring. I have had Ty’s wine’s before from my club at Cellars of Sonoma, and I am a fan of their Malbec. Nice people and good wines, but between the country music and the slightly hard sell on sale priced wines, I didn’t linger.

Had visited Tin Barn before, so I skipped it and dropped in on Parmalee-Hill. After wine geeking over all the cool production equipment, I also enjoyed their wines, especially their Grenache Blanc and Marsanne/Roussanne blend  I found white Rhone varietals at several Carneros spots and I wondered: why don’t we have more of these in northern Sonoma County?

IMG_0281Would have liked to stop at Three Sticks and MacRostie, but they were not officially participating, so I kept rolling.

Robert Stemmler Winery

Next stop was down Ramal Road at Robert Stemmler Winery. The drive down a remote winding road, made me feel like I was driving around my beloved Russian River. From best I can tell, the winery isn’t normally open for tasting, but has a good following based on the crowd. This is a Burgundian style producer, that day pouring a Carneros chardonnay, and Carneros and Russian River Pinot Noir. There was only one small table for pouring, so space was a bit tight. I really liked their wines, and thought their Carneros Pinot was the best of the appellation I tasted that day.

Unfortunately between the crowds, and a rather obnoxious ‘taster’ who fired off 100 questions, trying to present she knew a lot about wine, stymied me from detailed chat. (The barrage annoyed me enough to wander off and pet the local horses – the lady gave away what I suspected – she knew nothing about wines except buzz words, when she starting asking, going over the entire wine list “is this wine racked? and this one? and this one?” ‘Racking” is the process of transferring wine from one container to another to get it off sediment, and improve clarity. ALL wines are RACKED; granted Pinot is sometimes less so, but it is. Next time ask if grapes need sun, too. Snarky mode off.) I came back to buy a few bottles after she left, but large crowd came in, so I decided to move on. Will come back in April.


IMG_0282I have had Etude Pinot a few times, and they have a big following, so decided to make  my first visit. Service was friendly, though 3/4 of the pouring staff knew very little about wine. It was also odd to me that a winery known for Pinot was pouring only one, but that is perhaps related to their high price and very low yield vines. One thing that did catch my attention – they have migrated their Chardonnay to the new glass stopper tops I have been hearing about. FAR more elegant than a screw cap, and seals nicely. Consider me a big fan, I’d love to see more wineries use this style closure.

Ceja VineyardsIMG_0285

IMG_0288I thought it best to end the day on a safe note, removing the element of surprise with a winery I know delivers – Ceja. I could write (and should) an article just on Ceja, although they hardly need my help. This family of Latino growers, turned Winemaker, ‘gets it.’ They provide an amazing customer experience, work to make wine simple and enjoyable, paired with food, reasonable price points, invest in marketing, and  have embraced multiple avenues of customer touch points and Social Media, from blogging to Twitter, Facebook and more. Multiple generations of the family take on roles, and at their beautiful facility (not the downtown tasting room) you can’t go 10 feet without a Ceja warmly engaging you. As always, the experience included good food, live music, and great wine, comfortably staged around the property. I like all of their wines, but I am fond of their Vino de Casa, Red Blend, an unsual blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet,  priced at a very affordable $20.

A great ending to a great day in Carneros.

I look forward to the April event, cheers!

(ps, this Friday and Saturday is ANOTHER passport event in Sonoma Valley – come back for my Thursday post for more details!)

Artisano – Slow Food meets Wine Country

On Saturday, September 14th, I attended a new event in North Sonoma – the first Annual Artisano.  The event was hosted by Slow artisanoFood Sonoma County, North;   a chapter of Slow Food International.  Slow Food Sonoma County engages the local community in supporting and promoting local, sustainable food and food traditions and advocating for good, clean, and fair food for all people.

Sonoma County and Slow Food fit hand in glove – we embrace food, and appreciate it as an embedded part our culture. I knew little about this event going into it, but after a very long week on the road, I was looking forward to what I hoped would be a relaxed day of food and wine, Sonoma style.

The event organizers came through, and Mother Nature assisted by providing us with a gorgeous, mid 70s sunny day. IMG_0252The event was hosted at Geyserville Inn. I was expecting it to be inside (and perhaps that was the plan in the event of inclement weather…?) but was pleased to find everything spread out across the well manicured lawn and garden areas. The layout was well done, and leisurely paced, as befits ‘Slow’ Food.

I have raved about the Signature Visa Annual Taste of Sonoma as one of the best events that I have attended. I would put Artisano right next to it, on a micro scale. In some ways I enjoyed it more – while it 1/20 of the scale of food and wine offerings, the more casual pace, smaller crowd, and very high quality food and wine providers, was exceptional. The event was a bit pricey at $75 in advance, $90 at the door. (Ten minutes after I bought mine online, I found an email with a promo code that would have saved me $20/each – the online agency was unable to help me after the fact though.) This may have contributed to keeping the event numbers lower – however, had many more attended I think the event wouldn’t have been as enjoyable.

The event  organizers did a great job seeking out wine producers who rarely show, and/or were new. The majority of the wines being poured I had never seen before, or knew little about.

The intimate size and moderate crowd made it possible to linger at many stations and talk with the wine makers, and owners. After a long sleep deprived week, I was less in ‘investigative mode’ and more in ‘enjoy’ mode, but I did take the time to chat in depth with a few.

IMG_0253Skipstone: I spent a fair amount of time with Brook Drummond, head of Marketing and P.R. as well as Andrew Levi, the wine maker. Both were very friendly, and enthusiastic about their product. Skipstone only bottles two wines: a Viognier ($40), and Oliver’s Blend, a Bordeaux style blend. They offered an amazing food pairing with each, prepared by their own chef, the only station that had both wine and food in one spot. The Viognier was great expression of the varietal, that let the fruit come through, and not over manipulated, as seems to be the trend now with California Viognier’s. Oliver’s Blend was my favorite red of the day – a testament to the quality, as I have generally become burned out on Bordeaux blends. Turns out it’s a highly allocated, $100 wine – but I picked it as my favorite before I knew the price. I was also impressed by their marketing and PR material – this is a winery that ‘gets it’, and fortunately has the back to invest in itself – which only pays dividends later.

Duxoup I had never heard of Duxoup, and was amazed to learn they have been making wine in Healdsburg for over 25 years. Owner Andrew Cutter admitted he almost never attended these events, so it was a treat. Duxoup bottles varietals you don’t find commonly – charbono, gamay noir, dolcetto, and sangiovese. These are made old world style, moderate alcohol levels, and moderately priced. Their wines have a great following and procuring some requires some live interaction with them – there is no storefront, online or brick and mortar. I am in contact to procure a mixed case, should hear back shortly. I’ll be buying most blind – but willing to take a leap of faith after meeting Andrew, and sampling the dolcetto.IMG_0251

Forth Vineyards Its hard not to like Jann Forth with her bubbly, energetic, outlook. They have a cute quote on their literature (not on their website) that starts….” 2 crazy people, 5 baby-doll sheep, 3 dogs, 4 cats, 16 free range hens…” that continues and then ends “1 huge love,, enough to share.” The Forth’s love of the area, and what they do shines through in Jann. Their website and marketing is simple, their wines are well made, and embody the spirit of Sonoma family wine making.

Kelley and Young Newer entrants to the business, I enjoyed chatting with the very hospitable co-owner, Kathleen Kelley Young. They make a great Sauvignon Blanc. Kathleen was a joy to talk to,and I hope to be able to attend the fundraiser they are hosting in their home December 13th.

Since this was a Slow Food event, I guess I should also mention some of the amazing food offerings. There was an amazing variety of creative, delectable food offerings from wonderful venues like Zazu, Zin, Rosso, Dry Creek Kitchen, Bovolo and more. As well as great breads, cheeses, and chocolate morsels from Costeaux French Bakery, Cowgirl Creamery, Delice de la Vallee, Sonoma Chocolatiers and more.

It was hard to pick a favorite out of so many. Jeff and Susan of Zin never disappoint, and I’d like to have grazed on their lamb offering a few more times. Zazu had an especially yummy bite as well. Across the board, every thing offered was well prepared, creative, and delicious. My apologies that I didn’t take more detailed notes and pictures, as I admitted above, I was enjoying simply being a consumer, and rejuvenating myself with great food, wine, and people – what I love about Sonoma so much.

IMG_0254Throughout the day there was live music and chef demonstrations. Everything was very well laid out, planned, and spread out. I slowly drifted around the grounds a few times, and was amazed that my allotted three hours had flown by! Apparently time flies, when you enjoy Slow Food…..but that’s what its all about isn’t it….taking the time from our ridiculously busy lives to enjoy the bountiful gifts that surround us – we are truly blessed as Sonoma County residents.

Hats off to the event co-ordinators – I’ll be buying tickets next year the day they go on sale.


Nov 14-15th 2009 Wine Country Events

Apologies for the bit of ‘radio silence’ since the last blog Post. The new job has been exciting, and consuming.

I just returned from our big trade event of the year, with a frenetic pace of meetings from 7 a.m. to Midnight+ Sun-Thursday – so I am looking forward to this weekend’s fun!

As events thin out, I will work on better weekly coverage on not just West Sonoma, but Napa, Mendocino, Sonoma Valley etc.

Saturday Nov 14th

Merlove DVD signing at V. Sattui Winery, St Helena:

Merlove  Producer/Director Rudolf N. McClain  will be on hand to sign copies in the Tasting Room at V. Sattui Winery on November 14 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Merlove is a documentary celebrating Merlot wine in response to the movie Sideways.merlove

The winery is located at 1111 White Lane off Highway 29 just south of St. Helena. The DVD will be available for sale. The event is free and open to the public; no reservations are necessary. Adjoining McClain’s spot ‘signing’ the DVDs, the winery will be offering a free tasting of the winery’s two Merlots, the 2006 Henry Ranch and 2006 Napa Valley.

When Pigs Fly…….They Fly To Michel Schlumberger this Saturday


pigsflyPouring futures of Cochon Sauvages Zinfandel (Wild Pig Zin) and our immensely popular Coteaux Savage.  A very limited number of cases of these futures will be available for purchase at this party.  The roast pig and all of the accoutrements will make this a most memorable day.

As the story goes, Jacques Schlumberger always said that Michel-Schlumberger is a ‘Bordeaux house in a sea of Zinfandel’ here in Dry Creek Valley, and that he’d make another Zinfandel ‘when pigs fly’.  Well, as the label indicates, pigs are flying (!) — at least for a handful of those lucky enough to get a hold of the few cases of Zinfandel we do handcraft.  Our fabulous co-fermented blend of Syrah (red) and Viognier (white), Coteaux Savage is an extremely limited production wine that will sell out quickly.

Join winemaker, Mike Brunson, proprietor Jacques Schlumberger and the team for Wild Pig prizes, games and surprises!

Price $40 pp Buy your ticket by calling 707.433.7427. – this event has sold out every year.

Arrowood Vineyards & Winery, Glen Ellen:

Arrowood Vineyards & Winery will host an artist reception featuring the work of Karen Ingals, “Land, Trees, Vines.” What better way to enjoy friends during the holidays, but to stop in and enjoy Karens work while sampling their highly allocated new release, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Rosso Vineyard along with their 2007 Chardonnay, Rserve Spciale and 2007 White Riesling, Select Late Harvest, Saralee’s Vineyard which received 92 points – Wine Advocate – accompanied with small bites, a warm fire and our breathtaking view of Sonoma Valley. Arrowood Winery is charging $10.00 per person, please pay at the winery.

Located on a hillside just outside the town of Glen Ellen, overlooking the Sonoma Valley, Arrowood Winery is the real life dream of Richard Arrowood and his wife and partner, Alis Demers Arrowood. Completed in 1987, the winery is modeled after a New England farmhouse. With its winemaking facilities hidden from view, the building sits in perfect harmony with the surrounding countryside.

12:00 PM start time.

Artisano – Wine, Food, Art. Geyserville

This event especially caught the eye of Simple Hedonisms.

Artisano is a celebration of small production, locally handcrafted wine, food and art and the people who produce it.  It takes place in Geyserville, CA , the heart of Sonoma County’s Wine Country.artisano

Discover local artisan ultra-premium wines rarely available to the general public… Enjoy small plates from well known restaurants featuring locally raised meat and produce… Sample artisan cheeses, charcuterie, chocolates, etc from gourmet artisan food producers… Browse and purchase paintings, ceramics, fused glass, sculptures, other original works of art from several of the region’s premier artists… Enjoy chef demonstrations and book signings with local celebrity chefs… Participate in a live and silent auction including rare, hard to find lots of artisan wines and incredible destination vacation trips… Dance to fabulous live music.Fee: $75 Advance/$90 At the GateTime: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 894.8500

Benefitting Slow Food Sonoma County’s School Garden Project

Lynmar Estate Wine Club Event, Sebastopol

Another fabulous evening of food at wine at one of Russian River’s spectacular wineries. Event is host for wine club members, but I believe non club members can attend for a slightly higher price. Best to check if space is available.

Wine Club Pick Up Party in 2009, which will include a very special performance by piano player Bob Milne.

Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Please respect the starting time and arrive promptly at 6 pm. Food will be served prior to the piano concert (the piano concert is scheduled for 6:45 pm-7:45 pm).
Location: Lynmar Estate Tasting Room – Get Directions
Cost: $45 each for club members and guests | Connoisseur and Collector members receive two complimentary tickets.

Mounts Winery pour in @ Que Syrah Wine Bar, San Fran

mountsOne of my fave Dry Creek Valley small family wineries.

Bay area friends, we are coming to pour for you at Que Syrah Wine Bar this Saturday from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm.  Stop by for a visit and taste through five of our new releases.

Que Syrah is located at 230 W Portal Avenue – San Francisco.

$15 pp or $10 pp for our Club Members!

Polenta Dinner at Seghesio Family Vineyards, Healdsburg

If you have never had a wine & food pairing at Seghesio – you are missing out. These guys should open a restaurant, I’d eat there every weekend!

Celebration, Food & Wine Education: Ed Seghesio invites you to a family dinner featuring his chicken & sausage polenta served with our newly released 2007 Sangiovese and 2006 Home Ranch Petite Sirah. Ed will share recipes and anecdotes before we head down to the cellar for a traditional Italian dessert. Please join us! RSVP by Nov 2nd. 14730 Grove Street, Healdsburg
Fee: $55/$40 Centennial Club Time: Seatings at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. & 8 p.m. Phone Number: (707) 433.3579 x109

Thats the wrap-up of the events that caught my eye. Lots more next weekend. Feel free to post in comments of other events this weekend I didn’t note that catch your eye.


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