Heritage Fire: Pigs, Fire, Wines and More in Napa Valley

Heritage Fire LogoGrab your forks because Heritage Fire, a whole animal live-fire, outdoor food and wine event returns to Charles Krug Winery (2800 Main Street, St. Helena) on Sunday, August 2, 2015 between 3pm and 7 pm. If you move quickly, you can still purchase tickets for this massive collection of culinary experts cooking for a crowd of meat and wine enthusiasts (including you).

BBQ Tri-Tip on the GrillHeritage Fire by Cochon will showcase more than 50 notable chefs working with farmers to prepare and cook 3,000 pounds of heritage breed animals, spotlighting traditional outdoor cooking techniques. Heritage and heirloom dishes to be featured include Wood-Roasted Duck, Spit-Roasted Local Rabbit, Roasted Goat, assorted cuts of Dry-Aged Beef and (of course) a variety of preparations of heritage breed Pig.  You can also expect to find Raw Oysters, Roasted Clams, Octopus with Chorizo, Sturgeon, Artisan Cheeses and Heirloom Vegetables as well as outstanding wines and craft beers.

Leg of Lamb over Live FireSo who’s cooking? Participating chefs include Rogelio Garcia (Angèle), Kim Wiss (Antica Napa Valley), John McConnell (Bruschetteria Food Truck), Joey Elenterio (Cadence), Blaise Bisbey (Calistoga Kitchen), Chris Marchino (Cotogna), Joshua Schwartz/Tony Incontro (Del Dotto), David Bazirgan (Dirty Habit), Jason Kupper (Heritage Eats), Alex Lovick (Inglenook), Trevor Kunk (PRESS), Sophina Uong (Revival Bar & Kitchen), Brandon Sharp (Solbar), Brad Farmerie (The Thomas), Omri Afalo (Wayfare Tavern) and John Stewart & Duskie Estes (Zazu Kitchen + Farm).

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Putting it Together: Carneros Wine Alliance’s Birthday Bash

carneros-30th-year-of-the-ramArt isn’t easy but you can admire achievements in the oenological, culinary and visual arts when the Carneros Wine Alliance (CWA) holds their “Year of the Ram” Birthday Bash on July 25 at the stunning di Rosa property in southern Napa Valley. This is the “Year of the Ram” in the Chinese Zodiac calendar and the word “Ram” translates into “Carneros” in Spanish so the Alliance is adopting the name for its celebration honoring the 30th anniversary of the group’s founding.  

Los Carneros

Metal sheep welcome you to di Rosa

The Birthday Bash will take place between 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm at di Rosa (5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa) in the heart of Carneros. If you attend, your menu of activities will include art walking tours, live entertainment from the Max Bonnick Trio, a craft table where you can create your own cork-based art and a blind wine tasting contest. On top of all that, a raffle drawing every half hour will give you a chance to win magnums of wine from CWA’s members.  Tickets for the event are $100 per person and can be purchased by going here.  But, please move quickly as this event is sure to sell out.

Saintsbury

Saintsbury

The Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA) is located at the crossroads of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys and has long been known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wine production. Throughout the afternoon almost 20 wineries will be pouring current and library wines including Anaba, Artesa, Bouchaine Vineyards, Ca’ Momi Winery, Carneros Hills Winery, Ceja Vineyards, Clos du Val, Cuvaison Estate Wines, Domaine Carneros, Hyde Vineyards, Nicholson Ranch, Poseidon’s Vineyard, Ram’s Gate, Saintsbury, Schug Carneros Estate, Starmont, The Donum Estate, Truchard and ZD Wines.

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Recent Favorites from Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain

Taste of Howell Mountain AuctionEarlier this month we had the pleasure of indulging in wines made from grapes grown in the Howell Mountain AVA at the 20th annual Taste of Howell Mountain Wine Tasting and Auction.  We had a great time enjoying the wine, food and festivities on June 20 and looking around it seemed like we weren’t the only ones. Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignons have a well-deserved reputation but we frequently find admirable wines made from other varietals as well from this region. 

Robert Craig Winery

Rosé and Cabernet Sauvignon from Robert Craig Winery

TOHM is one of our favorite events in Napa County, and we encourage you to consider attending yourself next year (June 18, 2016).  This year’s activities started with over 40 wineries in a walk-around wine tasting sharing their latest releases (and a few library wines) as a silent auction tempted us with a variety of opportunities.  Later on, a festive live auction provided us more chances to taste wines and help support the Howell Mountain Education Foundation (a non-profit organization receiving part of the day’s proceeds). 

If you are looking for wines that best represent the Howell Mountain AVA right now, we’ve listed below the ones we enjoyed the most at the 2015 Taste of Howell Mountain. So, please look for them in your local restaurants, wine stores, and/or from the wineries themselves (and you can follow the links to see which wineries have public tasting rooms and their operating hours):
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Wine Country Big Q: Ribs, Tri Tip, Wings and More in Sonoma County

Wine Country Big Q Logo biggerIf you love BBQ you should plan on heading to Sonoma County in two weeks for the Wine Country Big Q on Saturday, July 11.   Come savor outstanding pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken wings, bean-based side dishes and more paired with premium wine, beer or cider. Then, you can wrap that all up with bacon-enhanced desserts at Big Q, a Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) nationally sanctioned competition with over 50 of the best Pit Masters and other food purveyors happily offering up samples.

BBQ Chicken WingsThere’s a Public Tasting between 1:00 and 5:00 pm that day at Sonoma Mountain Village (1300 Valley House Drive, Rohnert Park) where you can enjoy samples and then cast your votes to help determine the People’s Choice Awards. Use your ballots to vote for your favorite KCBS barbecue meat, Winery Challenge tri tip, Bold Bean dish, Bakin’ for Bacon dessert, BBQ sauce, and Tailgaters’ chicken wing/drumette of the afternoon. Whether your personal tastes run towards sweet, savory, or spicy BBQ, you’re sure to find your style here.

Entertainment at the 2015 Wine Country Big Q will be provided by Soul to Soul, a tribute band honoring one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of blues, Stevie Ray Vaughn (and Double Trouble). So come enjoy summer and outdoor BBQ and if you have kids, bring ‘em along.  Youth tickets (ages 12 and under) are also available at reduced prices.

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Welcome in Summer at the Russian River Valley Passport Weekend

Russian River Valley Passport LogoCome explore the rugged beauty of the Russian River Valley and its acclaimed wineries at the 2015 Russian River Valley Passport Weekend on June 27 and June 28. For two days, between 11 am and 4 pm, you and your friends can enjoy world-class wines (including limited releases and barrel samples) as you receive unmatched hospitality at over 30 wineries, including many that aren’t usually open to the public.

Balletto Pinot Noirs

Balletto Vineyards Pinot Noirs

Some of the wineries participating in this year’s Passport Weekend who make lovely Pinot Noirs (and other wonderful wines) include Balletto Vineyards, Benovia Winery, Cartograph Wines, Davis Family Vineyards, DeLoach Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield, Inman Family Wines, and Mueller Winery.

If you are so inclined, you can also celebrate with VIPs on Saturday night at a limited-access VIP Winemaker and Grower Barbecue at Gail Ann’s Vineyard in the heart of Russian River Valley. Mingle, dine, and listen to stories from vintners who’ve been making wine in the Russian River for decades such as Helen Bacigalupi, Mel Sanchietti and Kent Ritchie. The evening’s food offerings will be prepared by SucherNova Farm, Corks Restaurant, Twist Eatery and Kozlowski Farms and paired with wines from ten of the area’s stellar wineries.
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Jurassic Wine World: The 2015 Santa Barbara Wine Festival

Watching the Crowd at the Santa Barbara Wine FestivalThere are tons of reasons to visit Santa Barbara but if you are looking for just one more, it’s almost time for the Santa Barbara Wine Festival™ featuring wines from over 50 premier Central Coast wineries complimented with sweet and savory delights from over 30 local food purveyors. This fun outdoor event offers a chance to savor and appreciate some of the best wines and food samples the area has to offer in a relaxed environment along the banks of Mission Creek. The weather will probably be in the low to mid 70s so you should call your friends right now and start planning for an afternoon of delicious wine and hopefully a dinosaur or two (yes, you read that right).  

On Saturday, June 27, the 2015 Santa Barbara Wine Festival™ takes place between 2:00 and 5:00 pm at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. We have found many impressive wines at prior Festivals: white wine favorites included Albariño, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Torrontes and Malvasia Bianca; outstanding red wines included Grenache, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Touriga Nacional, Lagrein, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Admission to the event is just $95 per person or $70 each for Museum Members if you purchase your tickets in advance which you can do here. If tickets are still available, they will be sold on the day of the event starting at 10 am but that is unlikely to happen so it is safer (and smarter) to just order them now.

Kunin Wines

Kunin Wines

At the Santa Barbara Wine Festival™ you will enjoy pours from excellent wineries such as Alma Rosa Winery and VineyardsAu Bon ClimatBrander VineyardBrewer-Clifton, Daniel Gehrs WinesDierberg Vineyard, Fess Parker Winery & VineyardFiddlehead CellarsFlying Goat Cellars, Ken Brown WinesKenneth Volk VineyardsKoehler WineryKunin WinesMargerum Wine CompanyMelville Vineyards and Winery, Mosby Winery & Vineyard, PalminaQupé, Tablas Creek Vineyard and Vogelzang Vineyard.

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One Varietal From One Appellation: Recommendations from the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival

Anderson Valley

Anderson Valley

Some Pinot Noir fans (like us) took advantage of a glorious opportunity a few weeks ago to enjoy some of the best wines made from this varietal at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. The Festival weekend offered activities ranging from Winemaker Dinners to Winery Open Houses to a Grand Tasting in the middle of the Valley. Over 50 wineries at the Grand Tasting poured wines made from grapes grown in this beautiful appellation as food purveyors offered small bites ranging from Salads to Pizzas to BBQ Leg of Lamb.

Handley Cellars

Handley Cellars

Keep reading and we’ll tell you which wines and food bites we enjoyed the most at the Festival, and then we’ll preview some wine festivals coming to the area this Summer. We encourage you to plan your own wine country travel and exploration around this part of Mendocino County, and/or seek out the wines and wineries below at wine stores and/or restaurants.

At the 2015 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, our favorite wines from Anderson Valley wineries were:
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