Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! We are loving this trip!!
We meticulously planned the map of the day (we have two of them!) Bocker helped.
First stop was Kendall-Jackson. I am so thankful that Jenna and Almanzo (Adam) have introduced me to KJ Wines. They have totally exceeded expectations of mine (and I have high expectations!)
I thought KJ was a simple household table wine, but what I have learned is that there are so many layers to the brand. From an everyday affordable table wine to the tip-top grape press, KJ makes everything in-between. Definitely exceeded expectations!
We paid a visit to the tasting room -
And we were graced with a full food & wine pairing today compliments of Almanzo in the most beautiful gazebo setting
Chef Justin Wangler’s pairings were totally spot on. I highly recommend this tasting for anyone visiting wine country! Justin is from Ashville, NC – my stomping ground!!!
The First Course was Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Soup with coconut milk. Paired with the 2009 Grande Reserve Sauvignon Blanc along with a Johnny Cake with Trout Roe and Sour Cream paired with the 2007 Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chard. A true buttery delight with a crisp finish.
I thought the creamy soup really brought out the spice of the Sauv Blanc, and it was one of my favorite pairings.
Next up: REDS!
Course Number 2 was a Buckwheat Crepe with Smoked Ham and Bellwether Farms Carmody Cheese. Paired with the 2006 Highland Estates Seco Highlands Pinot Noir. SMOKE + SMOKE = pleasure on the palate!!!
The Sweet Tea Brined Niman Ranch Pork Belly Slider was soaked in southern sweet tea and paired with a cucumber and an herby 2006 Highland Estates Alisos Hills Syrah. Some said it was their favorite pairing of the day! I loved it, nonetheless.
Pairing #3 was a Korean Style Kobe Beef Lettuce Wrap paired with the 2005 Highland Estates Trace Ridge Cab Sauvignon
Tasted like complete leather in a lettuce!!!
My company was top notch – two hot gentleman!!
We so happened to be able to participate in the cheese course as well…
The best part was the accompaniments that came with each cheese course, and having spoken with Chef Justin, I can vouch that some of these ingredients took hours and hours to prepare.
The cheeses were stinky, and the accompaniments were impeccable. I think my favorite was the Delice de la Vallee, a cow and goat’s milk blend, paired with candied pomello, which imparted a sweet, bitter, sour taste all in one.
The cheese dessert course included two of my favorites:bleu cheese + walnuts. Paired with a sweet Chard. and a Riesling that I loved. I used to hate sweet wines, but now I 100% appreciate them!
Desserts anyone? Caramel corn (super sweet + crunchy!) with a Buttermilk Panna Cotta. Both were superb and paired perfectly.
After we finished up at KJ Wines, we embarked on our tour of the Russian River Valley, perhaps our favorite part of Sonoma.
First stop, Martinelli, as recommended by our wino friends, Stephanie and Evan
I miss my pumpkin oats
Recommendation: travel with a bag of pretzels. These were from a gift basket I received from Electrolux for my sponsorship and every pretzel was appreciated!
Bocker enjoyed lots of gourmet honey on this trip!!
Nectar of the Valley – Harvest Moon valley to be specific. Loved their Sonoma Harvest, which reminded me of the rubbery smell of a shoestore and their 2007 Zin that smelled like an antique wardeobe!!
Probably my favorite thing about Sonoma is how much the landscape changes – even 1 mile along the road! There are nearly 100 microclimates and where one might be cloudy and foggy, another just a few miles away might be sunny and hot. Thus is why there are such diverse wines within just a few miles apart! As well as stunning, lush redwoods within a few miles of desert.
Map navigation! There are SO MANY wineries here. How to choose!? You just have to point a finger and hope for the best. This worked really well when we stumbled upon Porter Creek, which had a Zin that won the New York Times’ Best Zin (it reminded us of fatty fish like sardines!)
And Thomas George’s delicious reds
Lastly, a spontaneous stop into Arista for some amazing Pinots
We ended up doing a farm dinner at Zazu for our evening meal, but in the interlude, Matt wanted to try a brewery. Perfect time for me to get a head start on my blog post!
A short ride later, dinnertime!
We shared the wine tasting along with the meal – a Chard and a Syrah
The first course was a goat cheese panna cotta with greens and beets and hazelnuts
Second course was shared with Matt – a huge plate of pasta with giant butter beans and lamb sausage in a tomato sauce
It was incredible!!!!!!
Because we’re celebrating 3 years of marriage on our second honeymoon, we got candles in our dessert!!
Chocolate pot de creme – ganache in a bowl. Incredible!! I didn’t finish the dish if that tells you how rich (good) it was.
Tomorrow’s another day . Again I wish I could just eat greens and fruit, but I have a feeling I’ll need to take advantage of all the senses to experience while I’m here!