BEER + WINE ISSUE: A quick tour of the local terroir to catch you up
SUNNY SONOMA EVENTS
A foodie's dream event: Slow Food's Fresh Food Picnic (Sun/15, 11am-6pm, $40–$125. Rancho Mark West, Santa Rosa, www.slowfoodrr.org) is a picnic and then some. Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food himself, flies out from Italy for a rare appearance, while Alice Waters and Nikki Henderson (of Oakland's People's Grocery) join him as speakers for the event. Then there's the chef line-up. A family-style picnic will be served by Christopher Kostow (Meadowood), Dennis Lee (Namu Gaji), Ryan Farr (4505 Meats), Christopher Kronner (formerly Bar Tartine, Slow Club), Thomas McNaughton (flour+water, Central Kitchen), Christopher Thompson (A16), and more There will be tastes from farmers, food artisans and winemakers, local bands, a petting zoo, guided hikes and tours of Rancho Mark West, the event's farm setting. Proceeds benefit A Thousand Gardens in Africa, a Slow Food International project, and California-based Slow Food initiatives focused on food and farm education. As a zero waste event, bring your own plates, flatware, and napkins — provide glassware will be provided.
Jordan Winery (1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg. www.jordanwinery.com) is a pioneer in Sonoma's wine history, started by Tom and Sally Jordan in 1972. These Bordeaux wine lovers built a Bordelais inspired chateau on their 275-acre Alexander Valley vineyard in 1976, a gorgeous structure overseeing the winery's soothing grounds (tastings by appointment only). With spectacular chateau apartments reserved for overnight guests, the 1100 acre grounds go beyond winery to full working ranch with cattle, chickens, gardens, olive oil groves, and fishing lake with Tiki bar and hammock. As from the beginning, Jordan stays refreshingly focused on only two varietals, a green apple-inflected Chardonnay ($29) and elegant Cabernet ($52 for a bold but balanced 2008 Cab). It's a family business with son John as CFO, while Rob Davis has been Jordan's head winemaker for 35 years, since the inaugural vintage in 1976.
Now is the time to shop for your holiday wine with them to earn a fabulous Jordan Winery harvest lunch. You must sign up for their email newsletter and purchase wines to earn the points which can be used towards winemaker tours, Christmas library tastings, and the coveted harvest lunches, which begin this week and run through mid-October. Harvest season is the most enchanting time in Wine Country, ideal for a family-style, weekday feast alongside winemaking staff and a tour of the grounds during crush season.
FALL BOTTLE RECOMMENDS
Where to shop for the below? K&L Wines, Jug Shop, Bi-Rite, Arlequin, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, SF Wine Trading Co., and D&M offer excellent wine selections in the city.
Au Bon Climat "Hildegard" White Table Wine, Santa Maria Valley
Au Bon Climat's is one of the state's great, small wineries, and Hildegard ($35) is one of my top California whites. A blend of 55 percent Pinot Gris, 40 percent Pinot Blanc, 5 percent Aligoté, it's layered and complex, unfolding with apple, almond, violet.
Heitz Cellar Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc, St. Helena
Heitz Cellar is one of my longtime Napa favorites for a beautifully balanced, lively Sauvignon Blanc ($19.75), and splurge-worthy Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($110-200) — the far more affordable 2007 Napa Valley Cab ($45) is a worthy substitution. This family-run winery has been going strong since 1964 with Old World balance, one of Napa's true gems.