Grab your phone and text your friends because it’s time to head to Sonoma County for the annual Wine & Food Affair on November 5 and 6. Foodies, Cooks, and Wine Lovers (or people who are all three) will find over 100 wineries to choose from, each preparing a special dish to sample along with the perfect pairing wine. If you like what you’re tasting at the 18th annual Wine & Food Affair, you can buy the wine right there (possibly at a discount) and then go home and download the recipes from the event website so you can recreate the experience whenever you want.
Last year, our favorite food and wine pairing was the Stuhlmuller Vineyards Estate Zinfandel along with Peppered Duck Breast with Blackberry Jam. Our favorite combination involving white wine was the Chalk Hill Estate Estate Chardonnay with a Savory Flan with Fresh Herbs. We also enjoyed Sunce Winery’s Viognier with a Tinga de Pollo Tostada, Acorn Winery’s Dolcetto with Mushroom Arancini and Blue Cheese Aioli and Balletto Vineyards’ Russian River Pinot Noir with Ratatouille in a Pastry Tart Shell.
As you can see, there is an impressive array of foods and wine at Wine & Food Affair. In fact, our favorite wines last year encompassed Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Vermentino, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Charbono, Dolcetto, Grenache, Sangiovese, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.
The 2016 festivities take place November 5-6 between 11 am and 4 pm each day. Tickets are $80 per person for both days or $60 per person for Sunday participation only. Designated Driver tickets are just $30 per person for the whole weekend which allows the DD to enjoy the food and non-alcoholic beverages offered. You should know that Wine & Food Affair sells out each year so you should really go here soon to purchase tickets (but realize this event is for adults only so no one under 21 is allowed, including babies or children of any age).
It’s always difficult deciding which wineries to visit (because visiting all 100 ain’t gonna happen). Personally, we are typically impressed by the wines at Acorn Winery, Balletto Vineyards, Fritz Underground Winery, Longboard Vineyards, Ridge Lytton Springs, Sonoma-Cutrer and Stuhlmuller Vineyards but we are also always on the lookout for new wineries and recipes. After taking a sneak peek at the dishes which will be featured at the 2016 Wine & Food Affair, here is just a partial list of what we’re starting to crave:
- Smoked Oyster and Mushroom Mini Puff Pastries (West Wines)
- Crostini with Duck Rillettes, Fig Balsamic Jam and Pickled Red Onions (MacPhail Wines)
- Beef Wellington Puff Pastry Pockets (Old World Winery)
- Crab Bisque with Sweet Red Bell Peppers (Occidental Road Cellars)
- Sunchoke Soup with Smoked Sturgeon and Caviar (Simi Winery)
- New England Clam Chowder (Philip Staley Vineyards)
- Roasted Pumpkin Arancini with Gorgonzola Cheese (Francis Ford Coppola Winery)
- Andouille Red Beans & Rice (Selby Winery)
- Pork Tamales & Chicken Tamales (Stephen & Walker)
- Grilled Achiote Beef Short Rib Tacos (Kendall Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens)
- Pulled Pork Sliders with Mustard BBQ Sauce and Pickled Onions (Premonition Cellars)
- Short Rib Shepherd’s Pie (Sanglier Cellars)
- Braised Lamb Meatball Stew with Chickpeas (deLorimier Winery)
Or, if you’re in the mood, you can just go on a Macaroni and Cheese binge and enjoy variations on the dish at each of these wineries: Carol Shelton Wines, Comstock Wines, Harvest Moon Estate, Holdredge Wines, Kelley & Young, Roth Estate and Viszlay Vineyards.
When you’re ready to satisfy your sweet tooth, you may want to seek out (and explore the wine pairings suggested for) the Blueberry Cheesecake Mousse at Robert Young Estate Winery, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Caramel Swirl at Clos du Bois, Chocolate Mousse S’mores with Italian Meringue at the Stonestreet Estate Tasting Room, Chocolate Cherry Cake with Chocolate Icing at Truett Hurst, Bacon Fudge Brownies at Lauterbach Cellars and/or the Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies at Christopher Creek Winery.
Please follow these links for a complete list of participating wineries, a collection of the dishes that will be served that weekend, or to buy tickets for the 2016 Wine & Food Affair. If you’re seeking a more intimate experience, you should know that (a) the entire event forbids buses and (b) some wineries have specifically requested only groups of 7 or fewer visit (including Colagrossi Wines, Desmond Wines, Kokomo Winery, Korbel Champagne Cellars, Portalupi Wine, Taft Street Winery, Trattore Farms and Virginia Dare Winery: look for the flagged wineries on this list to see more).
If you’re looking for an interesting kickoff for the weekend, there is a casual Winemaker Breakfast and Q&A forum on Saturday morning from 9:00 am to 10:30 am with winemakers from Pech Merle Winery, Mill Creek Vineyards & Winery and Spicy Vines. Tickets are $25 per person, but please note this particular activity does not include wine tasting.
If you enjoy cooking, Wine & Food Affair is a fun way to find new recipes to make at home, and while the level of difficulty may vary the recipes are reliable and do-able. Some of the items from prior events we have made at home ourselves are Apple Streusel Muffins, Ratatouille, Honey Harvest Tomato Bisque, Rigatoni Salsiccia and Roasted Pork Stew with Dried Plums, Sage and Fennel.
The Wine Road is a travel resource made up of 195 vintners and 50 lodgings throughout the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys in Sonoma County. The association presents three events each year: Winter WINEland in January; Barrel Tasting in March; and Wine & Food Affair in November. You can read more about the events, play with interactive maps of the region, and/or learn about local lodging options on their website to help you better plan your next trip to the region.