Tag Archives: clarksburg

Dinner on a Bridge (#MWWC35)

The weather was perfect; sunny with temperatures in the low-80’s as the event started. We were fortunate to be there. This is one of the most anticipated events in Sacramento. It is so popular in fact, that tickets are sold by lottery. I’ve wanted to go in the past, but have not been able to attend. However, this year, for the Fifth Annual Farm-to-Fork Tower Bridge Dinner, I won tickets in a sweepstakes hosted by the Golden 1 Credit Union, one of the sponsors of the dinner.

If you read my previous post, you know that Sacramento, California, is the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America. As part of the annual festivities, the Tower Bridge Dinner brings together farmers, farm workers, renown chefs, local celebrities, politicians, and foodies of all stripes, for an epic and magical evening. Dinner on a bridge! The Tower Bridge is an iconic landmark in Sacramento, spanning the Sacramento river from Downtown to the city of West Sacramento. It is an active roadway and drawbridge, yet one evening each year, the bridge is closed to traffic and white-linen covered tables are stretched from end to end. The goal of the event is to be “a truly spectacular culinary event…” A meal that “showcases the incredible bounty being grown and raised by some of our region’s most prolific farmers and ranchers who are at the heart of the farm-to-fork movement.” Some of the region’s best chefs work their magic on the ingredients, and the resulting experience is spectacular!

Upon arrival, guests are welcome to grab a glass of local wine or beer, and wander the bridge while nibbling on a variety of amazing appetizers. We sampled oysters, caviar, carpaccio, and other delicacies. The wine was free-flowing, and throughout the evening we enjoyed glasses of Muddy Boot Clarksburg Chenin Blanc, Conduit Amador County Viognier, Turkovich Yolo County Tempranillo, Divergent Vine Amador County Barbera, and Rancho Victoria Amador County Petite Sirah. Each wine complemented the food and enhanced the magic.

The four-course meal started with Chile en Nogada, a roasted poblano chile with picadillo, and walnut crema, prepared by Chef Ernesto Delgado from the Mayajuel restaurant. The farms that provided the ingredients were were Rancho Llano Seco and Stephens Ranch. The poblano was a little hot for a few folks at our table, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and the Chenin Blanc paired nicely to cut the heat.

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Next up was Smoked Mount Lassen Steelhead Trout, with cucumber, crème fraiche, flowering herbs, and cured roe. This was prepared by Chef Kurt Spataro from the Paragary Restaurant Group. The trout was sourced by Passmore Ranch, from Mt. Lassen Trout Farm, and the vegetables came from Soil Born Farms. The trout was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and absolutely delicious!

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The third course was a Smoked Grassfed Ribeye, with curried turnip puree, pickled onions and sweet peppers, Easter Egg radish, cherry tomato, and chimi-churri sauce. Prepared by Taylor’s Kitchen Chef Casey Shideler, it was cooked to medium-rare perfection and fork-tender. The beef came from Richard’s Grassfed Beef, and the produce from Riverdog Farm and Aldon Leafy Greens. I went with the Petite Sirah with this and it was amazing!

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The fourth and final course was a two-parter. First was grilled lamb loin with bronze fennel yogurt, compressed cucmuber and tomato salad, and nasturtium. The farms providing this delectable delight were Azolla Farms, Emigh Lamb Co., and Laughing Duck Farms. The dish was prepared by Chef Chris Barnum-Dann from Localis restaurant. I lack the vocabulary to adequately describe this sensational dish. Exquisite. That’s the best I can do.

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Finally, we ended the meal with “Pork and Beans.” No, not your campfire can of Van Camp’s. This was sliced prochetta with a late harvest corn and bean medley, and stone fruit gastrique. This round was prepared by Chefs Michael Tuohy and Santana Diaz from Legends Hospitality at the Golden 1 Center, Sacramento’s new sports arena. The ingredients came from Rancho Llano Seco, Dwelley farms, and Twin Peaks Orchards. Another amazing dish that was immensely satisfying on all levels.

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Once dinner was over, guests were invited to stroll the promenade and indulge in small desserts and dessert wines. As if we needed more to eat and drink! Still, we’re not quitters, so we made our way over to enjoy the view of the river, and just a few more bites and sips. The Late Harvest Viognier from Legendre Cellars in Fiddletown was a real treat and a perfect way to end the evening. Completely satisfied, and full of great new memories, we summoned our Uber for the ride home.

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I cannot thank Golden 1 Credit Union enough for sponsoring the sweepstakes that allowed us to attend the Tower Bridge Dinner. It was a night we will never forget. The food, the wine, and the wonderful people of Sacramento created a dining experience that has eclipsed all others I’ve enjoyed.

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

In addition to describing this heavenly event, this post is also my submission into Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC35). Last month’s winner, Erik of Red, White & Cru, selected to topic “Eclipse” for this month’s theme. The Tower Bridge Dinner certainly accomplished an eclipse of astronomical proportion in my culinary experience.

Cheers!

 

Review: Heringer Estates Barbera 2013

New World Barbera has become a favorite in my home. We are fortunate enough to live in close proximity to both the Sierra Foothills, and Clarksburg AVAs in Northern California. Both of these regions have proven to be suitable for Italian varietals, and many of them thrive here. The latest example I had the pleasure to enjoy was the Heringer Estates Barbera 2013.

Heringer Estates is located in the Clarksburg AVA, specifically at The Old Sugar Mill. I wrote about The Old Sugar Mill a couple of months ago in my Destinations series. Home to 11 wineries, it is a fantastic location to visit if you are in the Sacramento area.

The Heringer family has been farming in the Clarksburg area since 1868, when John and Geertje Heringa arrived in the region from Holland. In 1973, the Heringer family planted their first grape vineyards, and the Heringer Estates winery began operation in 2002. The entire operation of the Heringer Estates winery is located at The Old Sugar Mill, from crush to retail sales. [1]

As good fortune would have it, my parents are members of the Heringer Estates wine club, and arrived at our house on Christmas day with a bottle of this excellent Barbera. We opened it, naturally, and it paired beautifully with our roast pork loin dinner.

Heringer Barbera

Here’s what I wrote about it in my Vivino review:

Delicious New World Barbera. Rich and full bodied with aromas of black cherry and blackberry. Cherry and berry flavors, with notes of cedar, black currant, and clove. The finish is dark berry and spice. Quite smooth and nicely balanced. This paired nicely with roast pork loin.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Available exclusively at Heringer Estates. Shop Online here.

Retail $30.00

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[1] http://www.heringerestates.com/scripts/cpg.cfm/2

Destination: The Old Sugar Mill


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Located less than 20 minutes from downtown Sacramento, the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, CA, is a wine lover’s dream destination. Take a scenic drive along the Sacramento River to the home of 11 tasting rooms, and several full winery operations. Besides the wine, the venue hosts a number of events including Art Walks, Yoga and Wine, Food Truck Mania, seasonal events, and frequent weddings. This is truly a one-stop wonderland.

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Photo Credit: The Friends of the Clarksburg Library https://oldsugarmill.hosting-advantage.com/osm_construction/04_20_35.jpg

As the name implies, this regional hub for Central Valley wines is housed in an old sugar production mill. But that’s not the most interesting bit about this historic building. Formerly owned by the Amalgamated Sugar Company, it was originally located at Smithfield, Utah. In 1933, the plant was closed, dismantled, and transported brick-by-brick to its current location. It was reassembled between 1934-1936 and resumed operation, processing sugar beets into granular sugar. In 1993, the location closed as a sugar processing plant forever, and remained vacant until 2000. In that year, John Carvalho, Jr., purchased the location and began renovation and conversion into a winery and tourism destination. [1], [2]

Most of the current occupants of the Old Sugar Mill are wineries from the Clarksburg AVA, although other California AVA’s are represented also. These include Fair Play AVA in the Sierra Foothills (Perry Creek Winery) and Trinity County AVA (Merlo Family Estate).

IMG_0424The buildings themselves are worth the visit. The massive, high-ceiling brick edifices are beautiful; the architecture reminiscent of a bygone era.

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When you pass through the main doors, you enter the main building that houses nine of the tasting rooms, and a barrel room that functions as an event hall.

IMG_0425The Barrel RoomIMG_0428

Continue through the building and out the back doors, where you’ll find a large lawn area where Food Truck events and weddings are held. Also out back are the other two tasting rooms. Bring a picnic lunch, or buy something from one of the ever-present food trucks, and make an afternoon of it! IMG_0430

With 11 wineries all in one place, you have plenty of choices and options. In addition to the outdoor seating, many tasting rooms have seating areas for leisurely tasting enjoyment. Most tasting rooms charge $5 for tasting; typically 6-8 pours; but will waive the tasting charge with a purchase. On this trip, we visited four wineries.

Draconis Vineyards specializes in just two varietals: Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, and their wines are excellent. Their tasting room staff is friendly and helpful.

Perry Creek and Draconis

Perry Creek and Draconis

Clarksburg Wine Company has a huge selection of reds and whites. Give their Delta Blanc white blend and the Delta Rouge red blend a try!

Clarksburg Wine Company

Clarksburg Wine Company

Merlo Family Estate produces rich, delicious wines from the volcanic soils of Trinity County. Be sure to say “hi” to their tasting room manager, Djimi. In the summer months, he’ll likely be sporting his kilt.

Merlo Family Vineyards

Merlo Family Vineyards

Heringer Estates operates their winery on site at the Old Sugar Mill. They offer a wide portfolio of wines, including such unusual varietals as Tannat and Teroldedo.

Heringer Estates

Heringer Estates

The Old Sugar Mill is a dog friendly venue. Well behaved dogs on leashes are welcome. Many tasting rooms have water and/or snacks available for four-footed visitors.

Colette the Cavalier King Charles

Colette the Cavalier King Charles

If you are in the area, be sure to stop by for a visit! Here’s a map to help you find the way!

Cheers!!

P.S. The Old Sugar Mill website appears to be undergoing renovation, so the best way to get information is by visiting the Old Sugar Mill Facebook page, where you can find a complete listing of upcoming events.

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[1] https://oldsugarmill.hosting-advantage.com/pages/history.html

[2] http://www.lodinews.com/lodi_living/article_b319ccfa-598e-11e1-b8c1-001871e3ce6c.html

Sauvignon Blanc: The Next Big Thing?

Sauvignon Blanc has enjoyed a recent rise in popularity [1]. Although Chardonnay remains undisputed king of the white wine world, Sauvignon Blanc is achieving status as the latest trendy wine. All the cool kids are drinking it! I normally shun trends, but I am completely on board with this one. Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing; great for a warm summer day. It is food friendly, pairing well with white fish, chicken, pork, grilled vegetables, and salads – basically any light, summery food. And it’s affordable! Whereas Chardonnay can run upwards of $40-50 for a midrange bottle (and hundreds for a Grand Cru White Burgundy), the most expensive Sauvignon Blanc at my local Total Wine & More store, a White Bordeaux, is just $54, with the second most expensive being less than $40 [2]. Good Sauvignon Blanc is available for as little as $8 to $12.

Sauvignon Blanc grows well in wine regions all over the world. It has adapted well to the southern hemisphere, with some of the most award-winning wines coming from New Zealand. This summer, I have enjoyed a “world tour” of Sauvignon Blanc, enjoying examples from France, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and California. The California wines I’ve had have come from Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Lake Counties, Clarksburg, and San Luis Obispo. Yes, I drank a lot of Sauvignon Blanc this summer!

I have found I prefer California Sauvignon Blanc, with my favorites coming from Mendocino and Napa. However, I recently enjoyed a truly delightful example from Clarksburg. Nestled along the Sacramento River, less than 30 minutes south of the capital city, Clarksburg is a hidden gem of a wine region. The wines are spectacular, and generally substantially less expensive than nearby Napa or Sonoma.

Baron Herzog SBBaron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is one of these excellent, affordable wines. It is available at my local BevMo store for $10.99. I found it at Trader Joe’s for just $7.99!

My review, posted on Vivino:

Pale straw color, with aromas of lemon-lime and pineapple. The mouthfeel is light, with lemon/citrus, pineapple, fresh white peach, and tart apple notes. The acidity is bright and crisp, and the finish lingers with zesty citrus, and a hint of sweet elderflower in the back of the throat. A very nice Sauvignon Blanc from California’s Central Valley, and a great value at $8!

If you haven’t tried Sauvignon Blanc in a while, do yourself a favor and get some. Even though the calendar says it’s autumn, the weather still says “summer” here in NorCal. Sauvignon Blanc is a great way to relax and refresh. Cheers!

[1] http://www.iwfs.org/americas/wine-food—friends-1/articles/sauvignon-blanc—better-than-chardonnay-in-wine-food-pairin

[2] http://www.totalwine.com/wine/white-wine/sauvignon-blanc/c/000008?viewall=true&sort=price-desc