Elise had organized for some of the local food bloggers to go on a tour of wineries in Napa, so we all carpooled together and gathered for what would be an educational and entertaining day. For me this was going to be small vacation in a way. A chance to escape work and class and the grind. A chance to enjoy a crisp fall day outside, food and blog conversation with friends who actually had interest in the subjects. A chance to enjoy some truly good food and some well aged wine.Our first stop was the geometric, olive tree laden, and colorful Quixote winery. We were met by Carl Doumani and Pam Hunter, the proprietors of the Seussian grape press we were all beguiled by. They founded the winery in Stags' Leap back in 1996 and have since produced fantastic cabernets and petit syrahs, which I will describe in my most limited wine-speak later.
Carl then took us down to the vineyard and lessoned us on the worm horn used to help give the land nutrients and the use of various organic methods used to grow the berries such as powdered dead moths sprayed over the plants as a deterrent to other moths. Think of it as eco-friendly heads on a pike. Tea, worm compost, and a bit of video surveillance to keep an eye on the grape gobbling turkeys are all important to production.Carl then retired for the rest of the day, and left our party in the intelligent and friendly hands of Pam as she led us to her home for a wine tasting and cheese pairing. Their home is, for the lack of a better word, jaw dropping. Well designed, warm earthy tones, and a subtle Asian influence.
We gathered around the table where a trio of tasty cheeses awaited us for a wine pairing using the Quixote wines. We were then met by Janet Fletcher, the two time James Beard Award winning cookbook author and food columnist for the S.F. Chronicle (and whose job I covet). She guided us through samples of Pecorino di Grotta, erhaki, and zamorano cheeses. All of the paired well with the Petit Syrah and Cab, my fave was the erhaki with it's slight nuttiness, and slightly creamy texture. The petit syrah was delightfully fruity, with very low tannins. A nice relaxing, drinkable wine. Janet also kindly provided all of us with copies of her book Cheese & Wine, a delightful guide I had actually on my Amazon.com wishlist.It was a thoroughly relaxing event, we all chatted about food media, and sipped wine. Deliciously decadent and perfectly relaxing, something we all needed as a respite away from life. Good wine, good cheese, good conversation. How could it get any better?
Read Chapter 2 of the Sunday in Napa posts; Braised & Roasted.