The wine country is alive and blooming especially so with the fertilizing ash from last fall’s fires. It’s always a good idea to include food while you’re tasting for obvious reasons, so food and wine pairings are the way to go. Here are a few to consider on your next trip north.
VALLEY OF THE MOON WINERY
777 Madrone Road, Glen Ellen, 707-939-4500, valleyofthemoonwinery.com
Ambiance: A spacious tasting room with lounge, bar, and table seating plus shaded patio seating with vineyard views and cooling breezes. Food pairings are served by the chef (Sam Badolato), who also may serve other food along with tasting room staff.
Menus: The new four-course pairing menu debuting this month features burrata (with grilled apricot, extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic, arugula, torn basil) paired with the Estate 2016 Sauvignon Blanc; mussels Provençal (with toasted fennel, butter, and baguette) paired with the Estate 2015 Chardonnay; Roman-style sausage (with braised greens, roasted garlic, and bacon-onion jam) paired with the Estate 2015 Sangiovese; and wood-fired Liberty Farms duck breast (with brined vegetables, melted leeks, and grape salsa) paired with the Estate 2014 Sonoma Valley Barbera. $55, Thursday 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and Friday–Sunday 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
A tapas-style menu featuring 11 single-food items is also available with suggested pairings, including my favorite Applewood bacon-wrapped salmon sliders on a brioche bun served with summer coleslaw or a smoked fish board of barbecued oyster, cantaloupe mignonette, salmon gravlax, trout spread, and rustic crackers; and hand-made ice cream with toppings like old vine Zinfandel cherry sauce. A cheese plate and charcuterie board are also available. $9–$25, Thursday 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and Friday–Sunday 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
Details: Food sensitives accommodated; reservations not required; all areas are dog friendly.
Of note: Special Father’s Day barbecue June 17; Acoustic Sundays 1–4 p.m. through June, featuring jazz, blues, classical, oldies, and more, performed at a level conducive to conversation.
MAYO RESERVE ROOM
9200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-833-5504, mayofamilywinery.com/reserveroom
Ambiance: The recently remodeled and intimate tasting room features standard table seating, bar seating, and lounge seating, with views of vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains. Food and wine are served by executive chef John Locher (who explains the pairings) and sous chef Oscar Perez.
Menu: The recently released six-course summer menu features poulpe (octopus) confit (with fingerling potatoes, Meyer lemon aioli, and baby greens) paired with the 2013 Estate Chardonnay; holy basil spicy Thai fried rice (with jalapenos, shallots, and peanuts) paired with the 2015 Roussane; cherry and local feta salad (with wild arugula, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses) paired with the 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir; Yucatecan barbeque pork taco (with Zinfandel-pickled red onion and avocado) paired with the 2013 Old Vines Zinfandel; smoked duck lumpia (with hoisin glaze and green onion) paired with the 2013 Syrah; Angus hanger steak (with Pt. Reyes blue cheese chef’s butter and cherry tomato) paired with the 2013 Reserve Meritage; and a triple-cream brie soufflé with peach mostarda paired with the 2015 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer — a sure winner for those who aren’t big on sweet wines paired with sweet desserts. $50, Thursday through Monday 10:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m.
Details: Reservations available on Open Table, website link, or by phone; food sensitivities accommodated; dogs not allowed inside.
Of note: More wines are available at the larger Mayo Family Winery, 13101, Arnold Drive (at Sonoma Highway), Glen Ellen, 707-938-9401
100 Pythian Road (at Sonoma Highway), Santa Rosa, 707-538-9463, stfranciswinery.com
Ambiance: A group of 16 guests are seated around a curved wood table facing the tasting room hosts who explain how the wine complements the food. Perhaps by design, so guests are not distracted, the lovely views of the grounds are behind the guests. Food and wine are served by several staff members, while one to two others explain the tasting and pairing nuances.
Menu: The current five-course menu features cucumber gazpacho paired with the 2016 Sonoma Valley Estate Cuvée Blanc; Moroccan fish tagine paired with the 2017 Sonoma County Rosé; pork adobado paired with the 2014 Dry Creek Valley Old Vines Zinfandel; grilled zabuton steak with the 2014 Russian River Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; and coffee-cocoa-hazelnut trifle paired with the 2015 Sonoma County Port. The menu changes by a few items every six to eight weeks, and this spring menu is due for a few updates in the coming weeks. $72, Thursday through Monday 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Details: Reserve on Open Table or through a link on the winery website, and if you have a party of six or more, you’ll need to call. Online reservations are generally available three to four weeks in advance, but we’ve found last-minute reservations (within a few days) available by phone. Food sensitivities accommodated; dogs not allowed inside.
Of note: Music on the Lawn, Tuesdays in June, 2–4 p.m. featuring soul, blues, rock ’n’ roll, and funk; free admission; dogs welcome.