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Since we moved to the Lower Mills/Milton area, we have really enjoyed discovering all of the wonderful businesses and people that surround us, and we are constantly amazed at how much is going on down here. On Friday, we had the pleasure of being guests of Fruit Center Marketplace in Milton for one of their monthly wine dinners. We had visited Fruit Center Marketplace several times before for groceries, but we had no idea that there was a large upstairs area for events like the wine dinner.

The wines being poured for this particular wine dinner were perfect for Oscar weekend because they were all from Francis Ford Coppola’s winery. Years ago, we spent a magical morning at Coppola’s Rubicon Estate, but we didn’t know much about his Sonoma County winery. This wine dinner was a perfect way to learn and to taste some new wines.

The evening was led by Tim Paulus from Fruit Center Marketplace. Tim did an amazing job with the food and wine pairings, and throughout the evening shared with us how he made all of the courses.

Tim PaulusUpon arrival, guests were greeted with Sofia Blanc de Blancs 2012, the bubbly in the cute pink cans. I think this idea is genius; the little cans are perfect for parties or getting ready for a girls’ night out. However, I will fully disclose that this was the one wine I did not taste, because I have had it before and felt it had a little harshness to it.

While we waited for the pairings to begin, we got to know the other couples at our table, and we had an absolute blast talking with them. What better to break the ice than talking about wine and all of our travels to Napa and Sonoma?

When the food started coming, the room was filled with praise for chef’s creations and the wines chosen to pair.

We started with Pizza with Brussels Sprouts, Crispy Pancetta and Apple  served with Arugula Salad, paired with Rosso y Rosso Pinot Grigio and Pavilion Chardonnay. The pizza crust was a simple naan bread from the store. This simple dish was all about great ingredients, and the apple on the pizza and lemony salad both popped with the wines and their own bright acidity.


Brussels sprouts pizzaThe next course brought summer into the room on a biting cold evening.

Sofia Rosé

We were served Marinated Roast Vegetable Stacks with San Marzano Gravy and Fresh Mozzarella, paired with Sofia Rosé and Votre Sante Pinot Noir. I could eat these vegetable stacks every single day, and I plan on giving it a go once it’s a little warmer out. The gravy, which we wanted to lick from the plates, was a simple sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, butter, and an onion, blended and then chilled. The Sofia Rosé was a beautiful wine pairing, dry with nice fruit and spice notes, the perfect boat wine. The Pinot was also a great pairing, less expected, but was certainly light enough to go with this course. Everything about it said California to me, and I buried my nose in the glass to take it all in. I miss California.

roasted vegetable stackMid-way through the meal, we were treated to Coppola Claret with an Herbed Cabernet Granita. The granita was refreshing and delicious, sweet and savory, and the perfect palate cleanser. Tim said he uses a melon baller to scoop granita into Champagne flutes in the summer, then tops it with bubbly. The Coppola Claret is a simply gorgeous wine, with dark fruit and cocoa notes, elegant, smooth, and perfect for cold weather sipping.

Cabernet GranitaOur main course was a Short Rib Style’ Braised Roast Beef with Garlic Mashed Potato Paired with Eleanor Red Blend and Director’s Cut Zinfandel. The tender beef melted in my mouth, and the potatoes were creamy and garlicky and heavenly. I am a Zinfandel lover, and this wine was out of this world full of jam and cocoa notes. The Eleanor was another wine that just shouted Napa and Sonoma from the glass. It’s hard to explain, but also amazing how a smell can bring you back to a place. The wine had all sorts of layers, lots of cherry and blackberry notes, as well as a hint of black tea. Delicious.

‘Short Rib Style’ Braised Roast Beef with Garlic Mashed Potato Our final course was Dark Chocolate Torte with Sea Salt Caramels served  with Stewed Berries and Lemon Whipped Cream Paired with Coppola Port, which is only available at the winery. The dessert, including the caramels was made in house, and it was so decadent! The lemon whipped cream really added something special to the rich chocolate. The Port was off the charts.

Dark Chocolate Torte with Sea Salt Caramels We haven’t enjoyed an evening out like this in a long time. Our table mates were so much fun, and by the time we left my face was hurting from smiling. These wine dinners are a fabulous deal; this one was $50 and included the food and wine and also a $10 gift card to Fruit Center Marketplace! They sell out quickly, and it’s easy to see why. They are really well-planned, and it’s easy to see a lot of love goes into the food and wine.

I look forward to attending these wine dinners on a regular basis, if I can get in! Many thanks to Fruit Center Marketplace for inviting us and creating such a fun evening.

Dinner was complimentary, but I was not required to review it, and all opinions are my own.




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Tags: cooking, Coppola wine, Dining out, dinner, events, food and wine, food and wine pairing, Milton, Sonoma County, wine, wine dinner, wine tasting, winery

Eventually, we had to leave Timber Cove Inn. Next time we are definitely staying for at least two nights. There is really nothing like sleeping with the sound of waves crashing outside the sliding door and waking up to a foggy morning on the Pacific Ocean. Take me back now, please.

Sonoma Coast

Often when we are visiting Sonoma and Napa, I overschedule our days. There are so many wineries to visit, and because of blogging, we ‘re fortunate enough to be invited to many. This time around I promised I wouldn’t overbook us, and for the most part, did a great job keeping that promise. On our first full day we had three things planned: a tasting at Flowers Vineyard, a tasting with the winemaker at Two Shepherds, and a night of live music at Garagiste.

Sonoma County

After breakfast, we had plenty of time to wander the forests and hills of the Northern Sonoma Coast. It was while doing that we stumbled upon Fort Ross Vineyard.  Fort Ross Vineyard was part of our original plan for the day prior, but our drive took longer than planned. We thought the tasting room was closed on Fridays, but luckily we were wrong, an we enjoyed a delightful wine tasting experience in a beautiful location.

Northern Sonoma

Everything around the tasting room was incredibly lush. The drive up felt like a fairy wonderland, with tons of green and trees lining the road. It was simply magical.

beautiful wine country

The tasting room is brand new, and it while modern, it is also perfectly rustic, making the most of its natural surroundings. It’s cozy chic, warm and inviting.

Fort Ross Vineyards

Fort Ross Vineyards

Fort Ross Vineyards

 Fort Ross Vineyards

The inside is just as nice as the outside, with simple furnishings and a beautiful stone tasting bar that has the option of underneath lighting that glows through at night. Fort Ross does evening events on the property; I can only imagine how beautiful those are. The best part? It’s hard to tell from this photo, but beyond the tree line is the ocean; it’s just spectacular.

Fort Ross Vineyards

We did our tasting with Dale, who was as sweet as can be. Our tasting including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinotage, which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. This Pinotage, a nod to the South African owners, is made from proprietary clones developed from bud wood brought from South Africa.

 wine tasting at Fort Ross Vineyards

I was really on the hunt for Sonoma Coast Chardonnay on this trip, and the 2011 was exactly what I was looking for. I can’t say it better than Fort Ross’s tasting notes:

The hazy pale lemon hue is evidence of subtle stirring of the lees and bottling without fining or filtration. The decadent texture intertwined with electrifying acidity and stoney minerality expresses the high elevation and cool coastal climate. Aromas of lemon tart, butterscotch, clementine, mineral, and marzipan soar from the glass. As the wine touches the palate, Bartlett pear, wet stones and golden plum flavors wrap around the energetic, linear, nervy core. The wine is elegant, with supple texture and a crisp expansive finish. This wine is certain to evolve for years to come.

And I really can’t say how lovely and balanced this Chardonnay is. Yes, it has some butterscotch and notes of vanilla in it. It’s slightly creamy but also oh-so-crisp. There’s so much going on, and now there are a few bottles in my possession.

We were also fans of their Pinot Noir and Pinotage. Tasting their Pinot Noir was fun; it’s always great to taste different vintages and fruit from different vineyards side-by-side to compare and contrast.

The Pinotage was also fun and delicious. It’s not something you find much of in Northern California, and we loved the juicy and bold dark fruit flavors that were tempered with a bit of earth and smoke.

Fort Ross Vineyard is a little off the beaten path, and it’s a drive from the rest of Sonoma County wine country. I will tell you though, it’s entirely worth the trip. The views, wine and hospitality are the perfect addition to your trip. Once you visit, you will know why we keep going back.

The Northern Sonoma Coast might be my favorite place on earth right now.

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Tags: chardonnay, Fort Ross, Northern Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Sonoma, Tasting Room, vineyards, wine, winery

With snow in the forecast for tonight and a week that seems it will never end, I thought a little virtual vacation was in order for this afternoon’s post. After a brief stop in Yountville for some Bouchon Bakery decadence, we started the winding drive North and West to head toward Healdsburg where we would once again be touring one of our wine club wineries, Michel-Schlumberger

One our way through the very quiet and undeveloped Alexander Valley AVA, we decided to make a random stop, as we often do while visiting wine country, at Field Stone Winery

Field Stone

As we parked the car in the small lot, it was impossible to not be enchanted by the wineries’ surroundings. As far as the eye could see, wild chamomile flowers, vineyards ready to awaken for the spring, and rolling green hills filled the space. And it was quiet, very, very quiet.

Field Stone Winery

We made our way up the path to the barrel room and tasting room, passing by a bottling truck that was filling bottles with the latest Field Stone wine. After a friendly welcome from the men working on the truck, we went inside, where we were brought into a small, cozy tasting room.

Field Stone Wines

Field Stone is well known for its hearty reds, and I especially loved the 2008 Vineyard Select Syrah for its rich flavors of spice and black cherry. We also had the opportunity to compare and contrast 2007 and 2008 Vintage Ports

Field Stone port Field Stone

A sip of Port, a bite of dark chocolate, a sip of Port, some more chocolate. . . you know how it goes.

tasting chocolate and port

But again, as much as we loved the reds at Field Stone, we were on a mission to stock up on whites which resulted in the purchase of Field Stone Viognier and Gewurtztraminer. The Gewurtztraminer was perhaps my favorite wine of the day, dry but with some great fruit flavors. As we discussed in the tasting room, it will be the perfect Thai takeout wine. The Viognier was not on the tasting menu, but when I asked to try it, our host happily opened a bottle. Viognier is quickly becoming one of my favorite grapes because of its weight and luscious mouth feel. Just like with my favorite Viognier blend, Sheldon’s La Naris, the Field Stone Viognier is one that you you almost want to swish around in your mouth for awhile before drinking it. Sounds a little odd, but trust me on this. Smile

fields of mustard in the Alexander Valley

As we tasted through the wines, we learned a bit about the property, and our tasting room host encouraged us to go around the back of the building to check out their century-old Petite Syrah vines. Like gnarly little gnomes, these vines have produced quite a bit of fruit and have seen a lot over the years!

Field Stone old vines

Field Stone could appear off the beaten path, but it is really on the way from Napa Valley to Sonoma County if you are traveling North. It was a lovely spot to stop with great staff, delicious wines, and unstoppable views. Go there!

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Tags: Alexander Valley, California, chocolate, Gewurtztraminer, Healdsburg, Port, Sonoma, Syrah, Travel, Viognier, wine, wine tasting, winery

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