Grab your phone and friends because it’s time to plan a Sonoma County trip for the 2018 Wine & Food Affair on November 3rd and 4th. That weekend, around 90 wineries will be waiting for Foodies, Cooks, and Wine Lovers (or people who are all three) to come taste their wines, with each location preparing a special dish to sample along with the perfect wine. This is the 20th anniversary for the event, so you know it’s a good one. This is a perfect opportunity to revisit the excellent wineries in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys, but the event does sell out each year so please plan quickly.
Part of the fun of Wine & Food Affair is whenever you find a combination you like, you can buy the wine right there (possibly at a discount) and then go home and recreate the experience because the event’s website will have the recipe for each winery’s dish. Last year, our favorite food and white wine pairing was the Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards “The Cutrer” Chardonnay matched with a Sourdough and Gruyere Panini with Heirloom Tomato Soup. Our preferred red wine combination was the SIMI Winery “Block 4” Cabernet Franc with a Meatball Puttanesca. But, the Rodney Strong Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon pairing with Angus Beef Brisket was a very close contender.
Our favorite wines poured during last year’s event included Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Dolcetto, Grenache, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. So, you’re bound to find quality wines no matter which varietal(s) you prefer. We were also instantly enamored with the mR Rhone White Blend (Marsanne, Roussanne) at Trattore Farms, the Boar’s Camp Cuvée (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) from Sanglier Cellars, the Tuscan Cuvée (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese) from West Wines, and two Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends from G & C Lurton Vineyards: the Acaibo and the Amaino.
Food selections at the 2018 Wine & Food Affair will range from Crab Cakes (Balletto Vineyards) to Sloppy Joes (Kokomo Winery) to Short Rib Ragu (Fritz Underground Winery). Or, if you’re craving pasta, you can find Tajarin (Taglierini) with Porcini Mushroom Sauce (Portalupi Winery), Beef Brisket Agnolotti (Trione Vineyards & Winery), Grandma’s Pizza Sauce (Zialena Winery) and Beef Lasagne (Pedroncelli Winery).
Have you been missing Sweet T’s from Santa Rosa? Well, their new Windsor restaurant isn’t quite ready yet but they will be serving up Shrimp & Grits at Ramazzotti Wines at the 2018 Wine & Food Affair. Some of the other dishes you’ll find paired with wines are:
- Spicy Potato Samosas (Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards)
- Brassicas with Bagna Cauda Sauce (SIMI Winery)
- Brie and Fig Tarts (Notre Vue Estate Winery and Vineyards)
- Fried Rice Cakes with Fall Green Veggies and Tarragon Aioli (Dashe Cellars)
- Shrimp and Sauvignon Blanc Ceviche (K Squared Cellars)
- Prosciutto and Mushroom Pizzetta (deLorimier Winery)
- Crispy Chicken Sliders with Rosemary Biscuits and Tomato-Bacon Jam (Donelan Family Wines)
- Duck Meatballs with Winter Spices and Black Current Chutney (Longboard Vineyards)
- Turkey Pot Pie with Mashed Potatoes (White Oak Vineyards and Winery)
- Jamaican Jerk Jambalaya (Sbragia Family Vineyards)
- Salsiccia Sliders (Christopher Creek Winery)
- Coconut Chicken Mole Tacos (Rockpile Vineyards)
- Pork Stew with Prunes and Armagnac (Sanglier Cellars)
- Smoked Duck and Porcini Empanadas with Blackberry Mostarda (La Crema)
- Veal Marengo (G & C Lurton Vineyards)
- Coffee-Roasted Tri-Tip (Super Sonoman Wine)
- Beef Bourguignon (West Wines)
- Dark Chocolate Blackberry Tarts with Toffee Crunch (VML Winery)
The 2018 Wine & Food Affair takes place between 11 am and 4 pm on Saturday, November 3 and Sunday, November 4. Tickets are $80 per person for both days, or $60 per person for Sunday only. You can follow these links for a complete list of participating wineries and the dishes that will be served that weekend or to buy tickets. Please be aware this event is for adults only, so no one under 21 is allowed (including babies and children).
Designated Driver tickets are $30 for the weekend which allows the DD to enjoy the food and non-alcoholic beverages offered. If you want to share DD duties, the Wine Road will help you “Share the Responsibility” by allowing a Weekend Attendee and a Designated Driver to swap wristbands (under winery supervision) on Sunday morning. Just make sure to keep those initial wristbands on until you’re at your first winery on Sunday.
If you’d like to start your weekend chatting about wine with experts, consider buying tickets for the additional Winemaker Breakfast and Q&A on Saturday morning. From 9 am to 10:30 am on November 3rd, you can join winemakers for casual breakfast and conversation at Balletto Vineyards in Santa Rosa. Please note this is a separate ticket purchase, for $20 per person, and is not a wine tasting experience.
You’re bound to have a hard time deciding which wineries to stop at during the 2018 Wine & Food Affair (because visiting all of them ain’t gonna happen). If it helps, we personally are consistently impressed by wines at Acorn Winery, Balletto Vineyards, Chalk Hill Estate, Fog Crest Vineyard, Lancaster Estate, Longboard Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs, Sanglier Cellars and Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards. We are also looking forward to visiting G & C Lurton Vineyards again, which was our favorite new discovery last year.
The Wine Road is an association of nearly 200 wineries and over 50 lodgings throughout the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys in Sonoma County. The group traditionally presents three major events each year: Winter WINEland in January; Barrel Tasting in March; and Wine & Food Affair in November. You can play with interactive maps of the region and learn about local lodging options (and specials) at the Wine Road website.