There’s almost nothing better than sipping on good wine while enjoying the sunshine in summertime. Am I right? Well, if you’re like me and love music almost as much as you love wine, then you know that good wine and sunshine in the summertime is even better with live music. This is the sentiment for the Rodney Strong Summer Concert Series. As the name suggests, it is a summer-long event that brings musicians to an outdoor stage at the Rodney Strong estate in Healdsburg. For 26 years, Rodney Strong Vineyards has been bringing famous names to the stage, wowing guests with musical performances.
On Saturday, July 23rd, Smokey Robinson put on a fantastic show on the outdoor stage at Rodney Strong Vineyards. With doors opening at 4pm and the show starting at 5pm, guests arrived early and settled in with their picnic blankets and baskets. Bountiful bottles of Rodney Strong wine were poured and local food purveyors offered tasty bites from their trucks. For Wine Club members, catered tasty bites were paired alongside a wide array of whites and reds from the Rodney Strong Vineyards wine collection. And all while enjoying the fantastic food and wonderful wine, guests watched the showmanship and talent of Smokey Robinson. A true musical legend, singing hits like Quiet Storm and Tracks of My Tears, Robinson had everyone on their feet and having a great time.
Char-grilled vegetables and a healthy, goat-cheese infused potato salad were served alongside Wagyu beef burgers and sweet/sour chicken wings in the Wine Club lounge. The vegetables had a nice char and were served cold, which was an excellent choice, given the 97* heat that day. I enjoyed the healthy approach to the potato salad, with its fresh herbs and goat cheese combination giving a lot of flavor, without all of the richness that a mayo-based potato salad brings. Before even knowing the burger was Wagyu beef, I noticed how juicy the burger was; with sweet crunchy pickles and all the fixings, this burger was packed with a ton of flavor. The sweet/sour chicken wings sure did leave my fingers sticky, but the chicken was very tender and flavorful, so it was definitely worth the nibble.
As for the wines, a real crowd-pleaser was the 2015 Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc, which was oh-so refreshing under the hot afternoon sun. Fresh and zippy on the palate, this white wine was full of green melon and lemon fruit flavors, with a ton of spice. The wine was 90% cold fermented in stainless steel tanks with no malolactic fermentation, and the remaining 10% was barrel fermented in French oak with malolactic fermentation—leaving a fresh and crisp style that was perfectly suited for the day’s weather.
From the handful of reds that I tasted, I enjoyed the 2013 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is also from the Estate Vineyards collection. This Cabernet comes from a much-lauded vintage and was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, showing fruit-forward aromatics of plum and black cherry. On the palate, the wine is dry with medium tannin and flavors of dark chocolate-covered cherries. The fruit is nicely restrained here and there is a lot of structure; the wine feels angular in the mouth while still possessing a soft texture that develops with time in the glass. This wine is open and expressive, making for an easygoing and enjoyable tasting experience.