Wine Country’s Best Kept Secret: Winery ChefsAuthor:Annette Hanami
Napa Valley is famous for its Michelin star restaurants, but behind the headlines, some of the best dining experiences in wine country take place in the heart of the vineyards. For unique food and wine pairings, entertaining culinary demos, and intimate garden and farm tours, head to the wineries for a true taste of wine country prepared by some of the country’s most talented chefs.
Savor Sumptious Delicacies at Del Dotto Vineyards
Del Dotto photos credit Randall Cordero
One of the most glamourous wineries in Napa Valley has food and wine to match with Del Dotto‘s new “Delicacies by Del Dotto” program running through March 29, 2015. The luxurious and satisfying morsels starts with Caviar Pave followed by Maine Lobster Roll, Mangalitsa Pork en Crepenette, Snake River American Wagyu Black Truffle Slider, and ends with Michelle Cuizel Chocolate Wild Boar Bacon. Each of the bites are beautifully paired with a diverse selection of Del Dotto Estate wine from Napa Valley and the Sonoma Coast.
The seductive offerings are served upstairs in the VIP lounge overlooking the light-flooded atrium where one can marvel at the stunning Murano glass chandeliers, marble columns, mosaic floors and gold-leafed ceilings, all installed by master Italian craftsmen.
The seductive Delicacies are works of art too, created under the leadership of Executive Chef Joshua Schwartz in Del Dotto’s shiny professional kitchen. Chef Schwartz exudes the passion of a foodie who essentially grew up in a French restaurant alongside his grandfather, slurping oysters in Champagne sauce as young as age 5. He hasn’t left the kitchen since.
Chef’s skill creating delicious, balanced flavors and gorgeous presentations was no doubt honed with over a decade of experience with The Thomas Keller Group on both coasts. Chef Schwartz is inspired daily by the abundance of produce grown on the estate’s 5 acres of organic gardens.
Delicacies by Del Dotto ($50/pp) is offered Thursday–Saturday at 11am or 1:30pm through March 29, 2015. Delicacies guests may add a barrel tasting in the chandelier-lit, artisan-built Venetian cave, usually a $60 value, for an additional $25/pp. For an unforgettable Valentine’s Day momento, buy a limited edition ½ lb. dark chocolate-covered bottle of Del Dotto Napa Valley wine ($60-80)!
Visit: Del Dotto, 1445 Saint Helena Highway South, Saint Helena
Discover Something New At A Taste of Hall
For an entertaining culinary demo that’ll leave you in high spirits, join Hall Wines for “A Taste of Hall” with Chef MikeC. Even experienced cooks will learn something new during this monthly lunchtime series at Hall Wines’ sleek new Visitors Center in Saint Helena.
The son of a biochemistry professor who was also an avid organic gardener, Chef MikeC’s passion for teaching and cooking is in his DNA and it shows during the two-hour, 3-course lunches. His skill at simplifying techniques in a fun and engaging way will make the upcoming Taste of Hall on March 1, “The Magic of Molecular Gastronomy,” one to sign up for. Think deconstructed Caprese Salad with tomato caviar, balsamic gastrique, and mozzarella foam, Risotto Cake with black pepper Champagne syrup, and beef with Cabernet gel. Chef promises molecular techniques that even home cooks can use and impress their friends with. Each course is paired with one of Hall’s signature Napa Valley wines or WALT Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley or Sonoma.
Many of the ingredients Chef uses for the program are picked next door on the estate’s growing culinary garden set amongst Kathryn and Craig Hall’s world-class art installations, including Patrick Dougherty’s willow stick sculpture above, Deck The Halls.
Visit: Hall Wines, 401 Saint Helena Highway South, Saint Helena
Immerse In The Whole Farm Experience At Chef’s Table At Long Meadow Ranch
All photos courtesy Long Meadow Ranch
There are few wineries that grow and raise almost all the ingredients they use for their food and wine programs. Long Meadow Ranch is one of them. From nearly 750 acres of land in the Mayacamas Mountains, on the valley floor in Rutherford, and from their farmstead destination in Saint Helena, owners Ted, Laddie, and Chris Hall produce exquisite grass-fed beef and lamb, eggs, honey, olive oil, wine, and heirloom fruits and vegetables. All the crops are certified organic.
The Halls have shared farm-to-table long before it became lexicon, offering fresh, seasonal products at local farmers’ markets for decades. Now they share the bounty and the farming philosophy behind it in immersive food and wine experiences such as “Chef’s Table.” The two-hour experience begins with a tour of the farmstead gardens where guests learn about the Hall’s sustainable farming approach, followed by either lunch or dinner paired with Long Meadow Ranch wines in the faithfully restored ca. 1874 Logan-Ives house.
With a degree in “terroir” (that’s a B.S. in Earth Sciences to you and me) Estate Chef Tim Mosblech’s food philosophy aligns perfectly with the Halls. He’s mastered the art of combining wine country flavors with the finesse of fine dining after years working at Michelin restaurants in Europe, at Patina in LA, in SF’s Fifth Floor, and Coi.
Chef’s Table is offered for lunch ($95/pp) or dinner ($125/pp) with minimum 24-hour advance reservation. For food and wine programs with more extensive tours of the Mayacamas ranch and/or Rutherford gardens, consider the Farm-to-Table Luncheon ($145/pp) or Full Circle Experience with dinner ($195/pp). For details and to book, check the website.
Visit: Long Meadow Ranch, 738 Main Street, Saint Helena
To discover more of Napa Valley’s in-house chefs, visit the Napa Vintners’ website.