It seems as though you can hardly visit a winery these days without at least considering the option of experiencing a wine and food pairing. From small bites to charcuterie plates to chocolate—there are countless ways in which to pair wine and indulge. For a true fine dining wine and food pairing experience though, complete with a six course tasting menu in an elegant sit-down dining room, look no further than Sonoma Valley’s very own St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.
Founded in 1971, St. Francis Winery & Vineyards has become a highly revered icon in the valley—known for their award-winning wines, stunning gardens, picturesque Sonoma Valley views, onsite fine dining experiences and incredibly friendly service. With so much to offer both locals and out of town visitors, St. Francis truly boasts an all-encompassing experience for everyone.
The Wine & Food Pairing at St. Francis is unlike any other pairing you’ve experienced. It’s a group, sit-down tasting around a gorgeous, open-design round table; guests are encouraged to get to know each other and to chat about the pairings, and there’s even a friendly member of the hospitality staff who warmly introduces each of the six courses. It’s like visiting a fine dining establishment, in which each course is so elegantly introduced and so artfully plated that it feels as though you’re experiencing the work of a masterful artist—and you are.
Executive Chef Bryan Jones, formerly the Chef and General Manager of Sonoma Valley’s acclaimed The Fig Café & Wine Bar, is a true craftsman in the kitchen. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco with sixteen years of experience in the industry, Jones brings intricate flavor profiles, an incredible range of textures and stunning, artful presentations to each course of this top-tier wine and food pairing experience at St. Francis.
Six Course Seasonal Tasting Menu
The current six course tasting menu features seasonal ingredients and increasingly more goodies from the onsite garden, as the summer sun ripens their crops. Currently, the stunning preparations include edible flowers and a whole host of delicious culinary herbs straight from the garden.
• 2014 Gewürztraminer & Local Wild King Salmon
Beginning with the 2014 Gewürztraminer, made in a dry style with flavors of stone fruit and tropical fruit, this delicious summer sipper is perfectly suited to the local wild king salmon. The colors and arrangement of this dish are quintessentially summer—bright and whimsical—and the flavors are equally as delightful. The curried whole grain mustard crust of the salmon brings out the natural acidity of the wine, while the Easter radishes complement the fruit flavors, and the beurre blanc sauce provides balanced texture.
• 2014 Rosé & House-Made Ricotta Agnolotti
Another fabulous summer sipper made in a dry style is the 2014 Rosé, deliciously paired with a sweet and tangy house-made ricotta agnolotti. This luscious Rosé tones down the tangy elements of the apricots, while the al-dente texture of the ricotta agnolotti brings body and roundness to the wine; the intricate flavors work to enhance the lovely strawberry and watermelon fruit notes in this vivacious Rosé.
• 2013 Pinot Noir & Red Wine Braised Duck
When it comes to Pinot Noir, there is almost no better pairing than duck. Jones created a tender, moist red wine braised duck for the structured, elegant 2013 Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley. Juicy and full of rich flavor, the duck really brings out the earthy notes in the Pinot Noir. The body and texture of the wine are more round and rich with the pairing, and the coriander spätzle and pistachios provide flavor complexity and excellent contrast in texture.
• 2012 Rockpile Red & Grilled Snake River Bavette Steak
Of course, to accompany a Bordeaux-style blend—the 2012 Rockpile Red—none other than grilled Snake River bavette steak was prepared. A tender cut of meat, this bavette steak was seared to perfection and masterfully paired. The 2012 Rockpile Red possesses just the right amount of texture, medium tannins, subtle fruit and rocky minerality to accompany this course. The bavette steak heightens the texture of the wine, while its juicy tenderness helps cut through the fruit flavors, bringing out those mineral components and really strengthening the rustic earthiness of the pairing.
• 2014 Sauvignon Blanc & Blackberry Galette
To finish off an already flawless meal, Jones paired the 2014 Sauvignon Blanc with a delightful blackberry galette, alongside crème fraîche granita. Acting as a palate cleanser, the crème fraîche granita brings a refreshing tartness that prepares the palate for the Sauvignon Blanc and blackberry galette pairing. Delightfully fruity and fresh with a nice crispy pastry, this dessert is a scrumptious way to finish a truly incredible wine and food pairing experience.
Reserve Your Experience
The Wine & Food Pairing experience at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards is hosted Thursday through Monday, and reservations can be made for 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. For only $60 per person, you will experience some of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards’ finest wines and enjoy a five star meal, all in the picturesque setting of Sonoma Valley wine country. For more information, and to make reservations, call 800-795-6674 or visit www.stfranciswinery.com.
*Originally published in Wine Country This Week.