In the Sonoma Valley, Great Wine and Food at St. Francis
The trendy thing in tasting rooms these days is a wine and food pairing. We decided to try out the wine and food pairing at St. Francis Winery in the Sonoma Valley. St. Francis Winery and Vineyards is at the northern end of the Sonoma Valley, just off Highway 12. The setting is absolutely stunning, with the two mountain peaks of Sugarloaf and Hood Mountain making a dramatic backdrop for the St. Francis Winery and its lovely vineyards. Visitors to the center can enjoy a regular wine tasting, take a walking tour of the vineyards, or participate in the wine and food pairing. The chef is Byran Jones. Besides the wine and food pairing event, St. Francis offers private dinners and other food events.
Right from the start, one thing impressed me. Most often chefs prepare their meal and go off to find a wine or wines that match with the food. At St. Francis it is done just the opposite, and I think a much smarter strategy when attempting to match food and wine. The staff at St. Francis chooses one of their wines to showcase and then the chef decides to prepare a dish that matches perfectly with that particular wine. I like doing this at home when I have special bottle of wine that I want to drink. I choose the wine and then prepare a feast that will bring out the best in the wine.
We had five small plates paired with different wines. View the slide show below to see the dishes and the wine pairings. We were instructed to “sip, munch, sip.” This tactic shows how wine can change in character when matched correctly with a certain food. The effects were quite impressive for all but one of the pairings. I did not think the Zinfandel, delicious on its own, matched well with the Mocha Pot de Créme. I would have preferred a Port wine with this particular dish. Every thing else, the wine and the food, was divine!
The tasting is done around a circular table setting. Our tasting event had 16 folks participating. We were the only ones from California and it was nice to meet everyone and find out what brought them to the tasting. On this occasion, it was the week that the Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa released it cult brew, Pliny the Younger. Half the people in our tasting were here to purchase Pliny the Younger. Another nice touch was to have chef Bryan Jones greet us and answer many questions about his delicious small plates. As a testamonial to the wine and food pairing, three couples in the group were here for their third St. Francis food and wine tasting. Visit the St. Francis Website for complete visitor information.