It was a day that started out with fog and rain in San Francisco and ended with hot beef stew and Merlot at White Oak Winery in the Alexander Valley. The 12th Annual Wine Road Wine & Food Affair brought together 90 wineries from around Sonoma’s Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys for a weekend of food and wine set amongst some of America’s most beautiful views.
For me, the sold out event would not have been possible without William of Simple Hedonisms and Beth from the Wine Road. I was allowed to attend the event for free as I was covering it for my blog, but for just $65 for the full weekend, you can get a ticket to eat and taste at as many of the 90 participating wineries as you can visit. AND you also get a hardcover cookbook that includes the recipes for each food tasting the wine pairing that goes with it.
The Wine & Food Affair has been the same weekend as the Foodbuzz Festival the last two years, and I would definitely recommend that Foodbuzz festival goers check this event out sometime during the weekend next year.
Our check-in point for the event was Sheldon Wines in Santa Rosa’s Urban Winery Village, a complex comprised of Sheldon, Krutz Cellars, MJ Lords Wine Cellar, and D’Argenzio Winery. In the future it will house a micro-brewery, a bocce court, and lots of enclosed patio space.
Our first few tastes included:
Sheldon: Petite Sirah-Braised Short Ribs & Gremolata
Krutz Family Cellars: Gumbo
We fell in love with Sheldon Wines which, just like the winemakers, were warm, hospitable, passionate, and spirited. Unusually more into whites this weekend, I became an instant fan of La Naris, an elegant blend of Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne. We only bought a few bottles at Sheldon, but once my job situation changes, I look forward to stocking up on La Naris as my go-to white.
The Sheldon/Krutz/MJ Lords tasting room also offered roasted, hand-ground coffee that was smooth, rich, and perfect without milk or sugar. I could have sipped on that coffee all day.
Our next stop, D’Argenzio, was serving what ended up being one of our favorites of the day, Short Pasta with Wild Boar along with two different Pinot Noirs, a Zinfandel, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to the wines on the list, we also tried D’Argenzio’s Sangiovese and Amarone.
The Urban Winery Village is a short drive from San Francisco and a worthwhile stop as you head North on your Sonoma County travels.
Our next stop was Lynmar Estates where we sipped Lynmar Russian River Valley Chardonnay with Ester Cook Heirloom Leek Panini with Estero Gold Cheese & Nightingale Bread.
The panini were oozing with salty, creamy cheese and sweet leeks in crunchy-on-the-outside bread. I was all about Chardonnay this weekend, and the Lynmar was one of my favorites.
A quick stop at Martin Ray Winery so the husband could have Pulled Pork Sliders with Cabernet Caramelized Onions.
And so I could browse around the tasting room and store which, in addition to some great Cabs, offered some cute holiday gifts.
Our travels took us through the beautiful winding roads of the Russian River Valley and to our next destination, C. Donatiello, where we received a warm welcome from both the staff and the fireplace.
C. Donatiello was serving Duck & Shiitake Tinga Tostadas and pouring two different Pinot Noirs.
C. Donatiello’s wines left us wanting to come back for more, and their spectacular gardens guaranteed a return in spring when more is in bloom.
Our day wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Kokomo Winery for Risotto with Camembert & Wild Mushroom and Délice de Bourgogne with 2008 Peter’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay.
Kokomo is in the same complex as several other wineries, and as a result, we decided to visit Papapietro Perry for Wild Mushroom Soup, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.
And because it was just across the lot, we made a stop at Family Wineries of Dry Creek for the spicy deliciousness of the Smoked Fennel Sausage with White Beans & Roasted Tomato and to browse through some of these old cookbooks.
Like the Urban Winery Village in Santa Rosa, the Family Wineries tasting room was a treasure trove of great wines and a place you could easily spend an afternoon.
With a little bit of energy left, we made our way to our final stop of the day, the beautiful grounds of White Oak Winery in the Alexander Valley. We tasted White Oak wines this summer in Newport, and it was a priority to visit the winery on this trip.
It certainly didn’t hurt that they were serving a peppery Hearty Beef Stew a la Jesse with an equally flavorful Merlot. I don’t normally eat beef, but the steamy aroma from the stew, paired with the wine, and the chilly, gray day outside were too tempting, and I gave in.
This post only scratches the surface of the Wine & Food Affair. As you can imagine, an event spread through a variety of appellations showcases diverse wines, food pairings, and landscape making this an event you could attend year after year without repeating a winery, unless of course you wanted to (and we do!).
Thanks so much to William and Beth and to all of the wineries for making us feel so welcome. On such a busy day for them, none of the locations ever felt crowded, rushed or impersonal, a true measure of event success.
Interested in another wine-related post? I am the guest blogger at Delicious Dishings today! Check it out!