‘Tis the season for festive wine releases like Flora Springs Winery’s 2016 Gingerbread Estate Holiday Red Blend. This is a classic blend of Bordeaux varietals crafted from grapes grown in their estate Rutherford and Oakville vineyards. It’s a seasonal, wine club members only release that comes in a beautifully etched bottle with a colorful Christmas design. The story behind this year's bottle comes from a family holiday tradition, in which Nat Komes—General Manager of this family-owned and operated estate—decorated gingerbread houses with his brother and grandmother Flora.
It boasts aromas of ripe blackberry, cherry kirsch, cola and holiday baking spices. Its strikes an impressive balance on the palate with its firm but approachable tannins, silky and full mouthfeel, and complexity of flavors. Fresh-baked cherry pie, black currant, warm baking spices and a hint of sweet vanilla grace the luscious palate.
This exclusive wine comes as an annual release, special for wine club members, and is etched and hand-painted. While the design changes each year, the quality inside never wavers, and wine club members look forward to receiving this one-of-a-kind offering each year. Made in a versatile and food-friendly fashion, it pairs well with holiday meals like honey-roasted ham, buttered turkey, rib roasts and more!
These grapes are grown on the banks of Lake Garda, which is flanked on three sides by different wine-growing regions: Veneto to the east, Lombardy to the west and Trentino-Alto Adige to the north. The grapes are delicately pressed and then see 11 minutes (hence the name) of skin contact to create that perfect pink hue. Fermented in steel tanks and then allowed to remain in contact with the lees for three to four months, this Rosé has just the right brightness and acidity juxtaposed against a creamy mouthfeel and medium body.
Aromas of lime zest, under-ripe strawberry and honeydew mix with wet stone and minerals. On the palate, the 11 Minutes Rosé is smooth and creamy with flavors of minerals, strawberry and a touch of key lime pie; hints of vanilla give it added complexity. The creamy texture is balanced by gentle acidity, making this Rosé a refreshing, lively and enjoyable spring and summer sipper.
It's officially spring and Sonoma County is as beautiful as ever. The hillsides are a luscious green, the skies are shining bright blue, the yellow mustard flowers are on display and the wineries are poised to welcome visitors. Springtime is by far one of the most beautiful seasons to go wine tasting.
There's something about the abundance of spring that beckons me to the vineyards. I love seeing the buds break on the vines, anticipating what their growing season will be like and how the finished wine will taste. I also enjoy the excitement of tasting new-release wines in spring, because it's the first opportunity to see how last season's grapes panned out. In addition to all of this beauty and abundance, wineries tend to freshen up their tasting menus and experiences just in time for the beautiful weather and eager visitors!
At Kokomo Winery in Dry Creek Valley, the release of their much-loved 2018 Rosé of Grenache and 2018 Timber Crest Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is enough to make any wine lover salivate. But there's more—a freshly curated list of artisan cheeses has been selected to pair alongside a selection of five wines. The exquisite Reserve Wine & Cheese Tasting is hosted in the stunning Cypress Room, and features some of my all-time favorite Kokomo wine offerings, such as the Grenache and Pauline's Vineyard Zinfandel.
The 2017 Grenache is showing beautifully. This has always been a very graceful and delicate wine, while simultaneously coming forward with expressive flavors and playful textures. Silky on the palate with flavors of dried cranberry, orange zest, a hint of vanilla, fresh herbs and minerals, this Grenache strikes the right balance between fruity and savory characteristics. Coupled with a classic, aged Manchego cheese—made from sheep's milk—this was by far my favorite pairing on the menu. This textured, nutty and salty cheese brings more body to the Grenache and really gives its already luscious mouthfeel an even silkier profile. Simultaneously, the flavor profile of the wine really brightens and lifts the tangy, salty flavors of the cheese—this is a wonderful pairing.
I really enjoyed the 2017 Pauline's Vineyard Zinfandel paired with a smoked gouda cheese. With blue and black fruit on the palate, this Zinfandel shows classic varietal characteristics without being overripe or too showy—this is one of the reasons I have always found Kokomo's Zinfandels to be so attractive. They are simply well-made and have achieved phenolic ripeness without being over-extracted or left to hang too long. Clove and cinnamon spices play with the fruit and smoke flavors on the palate, and the body is smooth and silky. The creamy, smoked gouda has a seamless synergy with the Zinfandel, and truly brings a cream-filled profile to the palate of the wine.
In addition to the above two pairings, you'll find the 2017 Timber Crest Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc paired with goat cheese, 2017 Peters Vineyard Chardonnay paired with triple cream Brie and 2016 Ruth's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon with 62% cacao dark chocolate from Sonoma Chocolatiers. Each pairing is artfully selected for their unique flavor combinations and the expertise behind this pairing menu really shows. This is a wonderfully delicious way to welcome spring at Kokomo Winery.
Be sure to check out Kokomo's new-release 2018 Rosé of Grenache—a fresh, lemon/lime and watermelon-fruited Rosé with great acidity, medium body and a smooth finish. This Rosé is a fan favorite and will surely not disappoint!
Also, stay tuned for a feature on New Spring Sauvignon Blanc Releases in Sonoma County, featuring Kokomo Winery's 2018 Timber Crest Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, on Wine Country Moms Blog in the coming months!
When looking for a lunch spot to visit during Sonoma County Restaurant Week, I decided my family couldn't pass up on the opportunity to dine at Gerard's Paella y Tapas. Although Gerard's Paella is a relatively new addition to the downtown Santa Rosa foodie scene, locals will recognize the name and delicious paella from food and wine events all across the county. Their brick and mortar location has surpassed all expectations and is absolutely worth visiting.
First, I love this place because it is so kid-friendly! My son is now 13 months and when we dine out, it can be tough to keep him in the high-chair the entire duration of a meal. At Gerard's, both patrons and staff were incredibly friendly with my son and overall, I felt that our family was very welcomed. In addition to the kid-friendly atmosphere, Gerard's is also an excellent choice for those with food sensitivities (like my son and I). Still not eating dairy, it was great to see the dairy-free and gluten-free options on the menu stated so clearly! Dining out with food sensitivities and intolerances can be hard and often risky, but that wasn't the case at Gerard's.
In addition to accommodating families with food sensitivities, the restrooms at Gerard's also feature a changing table! While this seems like a no-brainer, I am often shocked at how many dining establishments I visit that do not have a changing table. This simple item makes such a huge difference for families with babies and young toddlers, and is just another thing that makes Gerard's Paella such a great restaurant for families.
During Sonoma County Restaurant Week, Gerard's is offering a fantastic $10 lunch menu that features a tasty and fresh salad served with your choice of paella (Rosa or Verdura). The salad is sweet, savory and full of textures with its vinaigrette, crisp romaine, peppery arugula and briney olives. The Verdura is a vegetable-packed paella with tons of flavor—my son loved this! I really enjoyed the flavors of the sweet peppers and the texture of the crispy garbanzo beans. The Rosa paella dishes up tons of flavor with it peppery arugula, fennel, chorizo bilbao and chicken. Both of these paellas were fresh, flavorful and plentiful—truly a steal for $10!
Another thing I love about Gerard's Paella is that they have happy hour every day from 3-6pm. They've got tasty bites, sangria and beer on tap for very reasonable prices. A much-needed addition to the Santa Rosa happy hour scene!
It's been nearly two years since my husband and I vacationed in Italy. We left the day after Christmas in 2016 and spent ten full days wining and dining in Milan, Genoa and Alba. As a wine and food lover—as well as an Italian—spending that much time in Italy was a dream come true for me. Today, as I think back on our trip, one thing I miss most are the incredible red table wines offered at such affordable prices.
At any trattoria in Italy, you can order a full carafe (equivalent to a bottle of wine) of the house red for about $10, and the wine will be amazing. When I recently opened the Stella Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and paired it with a classic spaghetti and meatballs dinner at home, I was taken back to our trattoria experiences in Italy.
Like many of Italy's red table wines, this Montepulciano is clean, crisp, fresh and full of fruit. Dried cherry aromas give way to crisp red fruit on the palate: strawberry, cherry and cranberry. Orange zest and a touch of a touch of kirsch add some complexity. This light-bodied wine has bright acidity and great flavor. It's downright delicious and tastes great with tomatoes. Coupled up with spaghetti and meatballs, this food-friendly, easy-drinking wine brought me back to Italy for the evening.
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