On Tuesday, May 29, the Sonoma County Winegrowers hosted a media dinner at the CRÚ Food & Wine Bar in downtown Austin. The event was an opportunity for local media to gather for an intimate group dinner with wine pairings featuring a variety of wines from Sonoma County and information on how the county is doing. On hand were representatives from the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, Amy Landolt, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations, and Rachel Thralls, a Wine Education Consultant and Sommelier. Both ladies have been involved with Sonoma County wineries and vineyards and working in the wine industry in California for years.
The event was held in a private tasting room in the rear of CRÚ and attended to by incredibly attentive wait staff. The initial wine poured to greet attendees upon arrival was a 2016 Rosé from DeLoach Vineyards. This Rosé was produced with 80% Barbera, 9% Pinot Noir, 6% Zinfandel, and 5% Merlot and aged in stainless steel. The wine was bright, fruit forward and crisp and refreshing on a very hot and humid summer evening.
Small bites and charcuterie on hand was available for guests to enjoy with their Rosé. Everyone was seated and began introducing themselves and sharing their experience and familiarity with Sonoma and wine. This offered a fantastic opportunity for the hosts to provide an overview of the Sonoma County winegrowing region, and how the tourism board and winegrowers association work in tandem and even in the same building complex, as they readily understand the impact and value of their combined efforts and partnership in increasing tourism in their region. A great model that ideally, more should adopt, as it is working well for them. There are presently over 60,000 acres of vineyards planted in Sonoma County on family farmed vineyards that have worked diligently to adopt sustainable practices to afford the region the distinction of offering sustainable wines. There is a sustainability seal that was created for winemakers in this county to promote this achievement. Presently there are over 425 wineries and 18 AVAs in Sonoma County, with the most recent one being recognized at the beginning of this year, the Petaluma Gap.
A brief update was provided on last year’s wildfires that swept through the wine country. Of the vast number of acres planted, only two wineries were destroyed and only 100 acres were impacted. The fires occurred late enough in the season that most fruit was already harvested, and any fruit that remained in impacted areas was not harvested to avoid smoke taint in wines. So, fear not, the 2017 vintages should still be fine.
The whites sampled with the caprese salad course were a 2013 Sonoma Coast MacRostie Wildcat Vineyard Chardonnay and a 2014 Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch “The Calling” Chardonnay. One could readily discern the aging and richer golden hue of the 2013 Chard versus the 2014. Both were nice, with the 2013 demonstrating richer and deeper complexity with buttery, yeasty notes and a lingering finish, while the 2014 was a fresher cleaner wine on the palate with the slightest hint of butter and a cleaner finish.
The main course featured a selection of pan seared sea scallops, chicken piccata, or filet mignon and a 2016 Russian River Valley Davis Bynum Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir and a 2013 Russian River Valley DuMOL Syrah. Both were lovely showcasing the depth and beauty of red wines produced from fruit grown in the Russian River Valley region. The Pinot Noir was earthy, with rich umami notes and minerality while the Syrah was co-fermented with Viognier offering a Rhône style wine with stronger tannic notes and a smoky finish. Both were hits with the attendees.
A second set of reds were also poured to complement the entrée course and featured a 2014 Alexander Valley Lancaster Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2013 Alexander Valley Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were equally rich and offered rich, complex notes. These wines equally delighted the guests.
The dessert course featured both a Chocolate Molten cake and a Crème Brûlée option paired with a 2014 Dry Creek Valley Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel. This wine was dark and inky and paired beautifully with the dessert. A fine finish to a thoroughly wonderful evening meeting new people, learning more about Sonoma County wine, and enjoying the fruits of Sonoma County winegrower’s and winemaker’s labor. All wines enjoyed during the event are also available at CRÚ Food & Wine Bar, so stop in and sample some of these outstanding wines to see which ones you favor. To learn more about Sonoma County Winegrowers visit their website: sonomawinegrape.org. You can learn more about CRÚ Food & Wine Bar at: www.cruawinebar.com.