magnify Click image to view more.

Dishes for Drinking

Beverly Stephen - October 7th, 2013

Most days, wine lovers visit wineries in the hopes of getting a taste of a Cab or a Sauvignon Blanc they’ll want a case of, but on November 2-3, some 5,000 visitors plan their route along the Wine Road in California’s Sonoma County according to the food being offered up by the region’s 110 wineries.

The $70 price of admission for the 15th annual “A Wine & Food Affair” includes not only the tastings themselves, but a copy of Tasting Along the Wine Road, a cookbook compiled annually for the popular event. (The cookbook alone costs $30.)

While a few of the larger wineries have their own chef, the majority rely on local restaurants or caterers to do the cooking. Here's what you'll find this year: Kathleen Kelley Young of Kelley & Young Wines plans to offer slow-roasted Italian pulled pork with Zinfandel barbecue sauce, to be paired with the winery's Alexander Valley Zinfandel. “Who doesn’t like pulled pork?” Young asks. “I developed this recipe as a take on my ‘to die for’ baby back ribs. It has all the flavor of the ribs but no bones, is not as messy and is just as easy to make.”

In the cookbook itself, Tim Vallery of Peloton Catering created king salmon cakes for Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir, while another Pinot from Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Valley is teamed up with butternut squash arancini with Parmesan fondue by Jennifer McMurry of Viola Pastry Boutique & Café.

When it comes to Chardonnay, Ryan Tunheim turns to lobster & saffron ravioli with brown butter and sage to go with Thumbprint Cellars Catie’s Corner Russian River Valley Chardonnay, and DeLoach Russian River Valley Chardonnay gets penne with pumpkin and smoked turkey from Sue Boy.

For desserts, wineries pull out the Ports, sparklers, and late harvest whites. Lila Mathia of Wine Country Treats by Lila suggests West Late Harvest Viognier with Tosca almond tart. Pedroncelli Four Grapes Vintage Port Dry Creek Valley drinks well with mini chocolate/Port chiffon cupcakes, according to Maureen Davison. Korbel Brut Rosé adds sparkle to Robin Lehnhoff-McCray's almond/apricot blondies.

Wine Road is a 30 year old association of 190 wineries and 55 lodgings in Sonoma County. They sponsor a number of events, including a Barrel Tasting in March, which attracts 16,000 attendees and brings in $2.2 million in wine sales.

The association's most recent addition is the Wine Road Concierge, a service whereby the knowledgeable staff answer questions from tourists, either on the phone during business hours or online. The team also helps customize tours for anybody, neophyte to wine geek.