Dare to Pair 2019
Local Culinary, Hospitality, and Wine students offered an event
to rival the Bay Area food and wine scene.
The Cabrillo College students spent almost two months preparing for the Dare To Pair.
Small bites were beautifully plated.
Each dish presented its own flavor elements to pair with the wine students chose.
Food and wine were served under awnings, deep in the dark cellars, in tasting rooms,
and under the gorgeous Santa Cruz sun.
All of the wines were gifted by Surf City Vintners (Link).
A heartfelt “Thank you” to each winery who donated their wines for the D2P and to
the Cabrillo Culinary, Wine, and Hospitality Program throughout the year!
Cheers to you for supporting our local students and the wine and food industry.
A 'thank you' to Chef/Instructor Jeremy and Chef/Instructor Eric from Cabrillo College!
Guests enjoy the pairings and time together. Cathy Bentley, D2P's faithful coordinator!
#1 Host Winery, Equinox Winery
Team: Hannah S., Kim T., China P., and Elaina G.
Dish: “Provencal Pies.” These upscale artisan pot-pies offered flavors of lemon chicken, with roasted garlic, and a swirled topping of brown butter mashed potatoes.
Wine: 2001 Equinox Sparkling Blanc de Blanc, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Pairing Highlights: Honey, apricot, and yeast notes from the Champagne-method sparkling-wine perfectly accented the buttery-rosemary crust, the earthy carrots and poultry, fresh lemon, and decadent mashed potatoes. As one taster said, “Chicken and bubbles go well together.”
Destination: This dish took me to a farm-to-table dinner set in an apple orchard. Long, narrow farm tables are covered with white linens and jars of field flowers. Complete with hanging lights, and warm evening breezes.
#2 Sones Winery
Team: Natasha F., Jessie C., Alekzander M-N., and John B.
Dish: Hamachi crudo with fresh citrus, avocado, and leche de tigre sauce.
Wine: The“Hedgehog” is a blend of Torrantes and Sauvignon Blanc, California
Pairing Highlights: The fresh, almost floral white wine set the stage for this clean-flavored dish. The compilation was a soothing orchestration of 9 plating elements. An attractive color palate greeted the eye.
Destination: Appreciate this Californian-Asian inspired pairing in a metropolitan highrise—complete with a view of the city lights and night time stars.
#3 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
Team: Joseph R., Fatima D., Thomas G., and Jade B.
Dish: Sopes de Carnitas de Pato con Mole
Wine: 2015 Melange Rouge, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Pairing Highlights: Thick, rich, and full of balanced flavors, the subtle chili and chocolate of the Mole paired well with the earthy duck. The acidity of the pastoral Melange wine rounded out the dish, giving the pairing cohesion.
Destination: This is the dish to savor with friends during a midnight dinner tucked in a Spanish courtyard.
#4 Quinta Cruz Wines
Team: Conall M., Max G., Ismael A., and Julie P.
Dish: Manchego and Almond Stuffed Squid
Wine: 2016 Sauzao, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Pairing Highlights: Tasters enjoyed pan-seared squid stuffed with Manchego cheese, garlic, tomatoes, and almonds, atop arugula leaves. The browned squid, the subtle crunch of the almonds and notes of creamy cheese played off each other with an affinity.
Destination: Get your style on because this pairing would be perfect for a pop-up dinner at a home. Artists, musicians, writers, and food lovers would wax-on eloquently about this combination.
#5 Storrs Winery:
Team: Laura R., Alex A., Gabe A., and Damian F.
Dish: Bunuelos de Bacalao with Chili/Lime Aioli
Wine: 2017 Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Pairing Highlights: The salinity of the fish fritters, the light but full flavored Chardonnay, and the peppery arugula were an enticing flavor trio. The chili mayo gave this dish a powerful punch.
Destination: This dish took me to a beach side cafe' on the Iberian Coast. The lapping water and salty sea air would add to this pairing.
#6 Bottle Jack Winery
Team: Sean A., Michael G., Sarah C., and Anita L.
Dish: Durham Ranch Braised Wild Boar with Porcini Polenta and Pickled Fennel
Wine: 2016 Firenze Tuscan Blend, Santa Clara County
Pairing Highlights: The alluring flavors of the wild boar and umami polenta tied the knot with the Firenze. The wine's dark cherry, acidic, earthy, and almost farmyard flavors guaranteed tasters would hold a fork in one hand, and a glass of wine in the other.
Destination: This dish will transport you to a hidden French bistro. The type of place where the locals eat, and tourist hope to get reservations.
#7 Silver Mountain Vineyards
Team: Susan C., Erin D., Natalie B., and Wednesday H.
Dish: Grilled Ostrich Sausage with Potato Croquette and a Red Wine Gastrique
Wine: 2012 Oscar's Wild Red blend, Santa Cruz Mountains
Pairing Highlights: Simply put, if this team decides to market and sell their sausage, I'll be their first customer. The balanced flavors of herbs, hints of dried cherries, and Manchego cheese give a bit of richness to the lean sausage. Starchy potato and fresh greens round out this dish, while the Merlot in the wine-blend offers soft tannins and dark berry flavors.
Destination: Picture yourself siting on the dining-deck of a snow-capped mountain resort. The blue sky, warm sun, and fresh air will whet your appetite for this arresting dish.
#8 Bartolo Wines
Team: Konrad S., Fajah J., and Jennifer P.
Dish: Braised Pork Belly with Green Garlic Puree, Cauliflower and Herb Sauteed Fava Beans.
Wine: 2013 Grenache, Santa Clara Valley
Pairing Highlights: This pairing is full of striking contrasts. The rich, smokey flavors of the pork belly. The green, grassy flavors of the garlic. The cruciferous, fresh cauliflower and fava beans. All these tastes met up with the rich, yet smooth, Grenache.
Destination: Tuck into this pairing while at an Eastern European restaurant. From your seat, you can see the chef in the kitchen cooking and braising the pork belly. Outside are views of presidential palaces.
The 10th Annual D2P Awards....
Favorite Wine: 2001 Equinox Sparkling Blanc de Blanc, Santa Cruz Mountains
Favorite Dish: Wild Boar
People's Choice Awards for the Best Wine & Food Pairing (guest polls)
1st Sones Cellars and Hamachi crudo
2nd Bottle Jack Wines and Wild Boar
3rd Bortollo Wines and Braised Pork Belly
The Judges Awards for the Best Wine & Food Pairing
1st Bottle Jack Wines and Wild Boar
2nd Bortollo Wines and Braised Pork Belly
3rd Sones Cellars and Hamachi crudo
Professional and hospitable, the students' dishes were noteworthy!
As one taster shared, “the Culinary programs of our colleges need our support.”
To donate to the Cabrillo College Culinary, Hospitality and Wine Program,
or to dine at the student-run Pinot Alto Restaurant, visit (Link.)
Until next year's D2P,
For a behind the scences look at D2P and its origins, visit my post....
The annual 'Amador Four Fires Festival' hits the bull's-eye.
Serving local Amador County wines & foods,
come enjoy wines representing four key wine regions.
Experience Iberian wines under one tent. Then Italian wines.
Now try Rhone/Southern France.
And of course, Heritage Californian wines honoring
California's wine history from the mid-1800s.
Wine sessions, pairings, gifts, local cuisine, and wine stations
at your leisure keep it fun and relaxing!
If you're up in the Foothills and panning for wine, find tickets & events details here (Link.)
Choices, choices...so many wine events to choose from!
For a look at Amador Four Fires 2018, visit my post on 4Fires 2018.
World renown for its superior Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,
Monterey County is home to Carmel-by-the-Sea.
The coastal village is laced with quaint paths that lead to dining, sea vistas, and wineries.
As I walked to the Sunset Center, the slight crunch of the pathway gravel greeted my ears
and I was eager to try other varietals from the region.
At the Annual 'Monterey County Wine Trade Tasting,' hundreds of Monterey County wines
were poured...all with a passion to share the wines of the region.
Highlights of my tasting afternoon...
2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Griva Vineyard. White peach gives way to tall-grassy notes, with hints of ocean saline. I am always drawn to a winery that produces Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favorite wines. It is versatile, fresh, and pairs with the California Coastal food lifestyle. 'KORi' Wines is the partnership between Santa Lucia Highlands grape/citrus grower Kirk Williams & his step-daughter Kori Violini. (from their site.)
2016 Brix Pinot Gris Estate Grown, Camel Valley. The floral notes, and ever-so-slight sweetness would cover a gathering of palates. Light on minerals, it gives a hint of dairy and graham then meets up with tropical flavors.
With 4 Styles of Sangiovese, Emily Hunt is a winemaker to take note of. She's new to the Monterey wine scene and is gifted with creativity in spades. All of her pours were a blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Petite Sirah. What's so special about that? Well, she offered a Rose' and three different styles of red wine—all made from the same blend of grapes.
All of the fruit arrived to Emily at once. But she used different production methods and timing to achieved wines with completely different flavor profiles. That's a gutsy undertaking! Some wines were on the skins for 4 hours, others for 6. Some soaked with the stems. One was aged more, another less. Emily's wine mentor and the fruit hail from the Napa area. But her wine is Monterey style through and through.
Hahn Family Wines
2017 Pinot Gris, Monterey County. Soft green melon and fresh floral notes round out this slightly sweeter yet pleasing wine. This white wine is food-friendly without any heavy dairy on the palate.
Winemaker, Bill Brosseau, shares his craft. Testarossa offers wine tasting in their Camel Valley and Los Gatos locations. My light write up offers a peek at the Los Gatos tasting room...'Testarossa, Wine for Collectors & Beginners.'
Windy Oaks Estate
2015 Grenache, Santa Lucia Highlands. This coastal grown 100% Grenache offers a pleasing light to mid-weight mouth-feel. A bit of acidity offers a base for foods, but the wine fitting on its own. Fruit forward, but not jammy.
This family winery is located up Hazel Dell Road, in the Corralitos area. The vineyards cover almost 30 acres. You'll find their tasting rooms in Carmel-by-the Sea and the Carmel Village.
Pierce Ranch Vineyards
2017 Verdelho, San Antonio Valley. Embrace currents of honeysuckle and soft citrus in this white wine. Josh Pierce offers wines that are like a treasure chest. Each one is subtle, then opens up to an arc of flavors and character. Hands down, when I serve Pierce Ranch wines to my guests at home, they always garner a comment of praise!
Other wineries to check out...(pictured above)
Joyce Vineyards, Scratch Wines (staff,) Josh Pierce of Pierce Ranch Vineyards, and
Miguel Lepe of Lepe Cellars. Also, pouring, Rexford Winery.
Thank you, Monterey County Wines, for the Trade Tasting invitation.
For more on the following wineries, and dozens of additional tasting rooms, visit MCVG's site (Link.)
Big Sur Vineyards
2015 BSV Red Wine, Monterey County. Lenora Carey journeyed from being a documentary filmmaker to the owner of Big Sur Vineyards. With Ryan Kobza as winemaker, the first vintage was released in 2013. The Arroy Seco growing region provides the precise weather for BSV's olive trees, essential oils gardens, and vineyards.
Who Attended & Why?
Instead of buying dozens of bottles of wine to try, the restaurant industry
sampled and selected wines in one location to pair with their menu and and customers' desires.
Grocery and market buyers seek out wines to stock and sell in their stores.
Wine publicists and writers come to get a taste of what's current in Monterey.
People are looking for crowd-pleaser wines. And for wines that exemplify a region.
They also seek out the hidden gems. The unexpected wines that someone special will be looking for.
So here's to your everyday wines and
the hidden gems for your special occasions.
Coming up, the Monterey Winemaker's Celebration is a day of wine tasting for new wine fans
and the devoted. For your tickets and more, visit my Wine News post...
Each year, people from the global wine world come together for North America's Unified Wine and Grape Symposium (Link.)
A hot topic each year is Wine Trends.
The forecast for wine fans and the industry, & what to keep an eye on.
Today's Rose' has matured. She and can proudly hold her head high,
lift her chin, and be chosen for her merits—not just good looks.
Rose' isn't the Hershey bar of wine anymore. It may have been an easy go-to wine when people wanted something a bit sweet, served very chilled, or just looked pretty in the glass.
It was easy to grab on the end-cap.
Jason Haas, of Tablas Creek Vineyard, (Link) shared that some tasters say, "I don't drink Rose'.”
Since it's already on the tasting menu, the staff encourage guests with
"Just try it. It won't cost you anything.”
Hugh Chappelle of Quivira Vineyards (Link) shared that Rose' is "one of the most technically challenging wines to make outside of sparkling wine. Rose' is a very difficult matrix.”
Tasters are often pleasantly surprised by how well Rose' pairs with foods and what it has to offer.
Rose' is for women and not masculine. It's too sweet, and it's something you serve in hot weather.
Guys like Rose'. It can be bone-dry, not sweet. It's wonderful on a rainy day or any time of the year.
Rose' can be found in approachable price points.
Budget: < $10. Serve with pasta topped with veggies, and parmesan.
High end: > $10. Serve with grilled chicken or pork, fresh herbed bread, and spring greens.
Premium: > $20 Serve with seafood, fresh strawberries or melon, or mushroom risotto.
California is home to envy inducing Rose's. You can always find a selection at your local big box grocery store. Even better, you can find Rose' in almost every California wine region and tasting room.
It's rare to find the winemaker who has all the capital needed to start a winery. From the land, to winemaking facilities, the tasting room, supplies, and staffing—the costs add up. Many winemakers are turning to sharing or renting tasting room space with other wineries. Another trend is using custom crush services for winemaking needs.
Crush facilities can allow winemakers to bring in their grapes, crush, ferment, age, and bottle their wines under their own labels. And winemakers can still be hands on, making their wines. It's similar to a personal chef renting a commercial kitchen, instead of building and paying for one of their own. They are still the chef.
#3 Beverage Competition
Wine is in competition. It's vying for your attention.
With only so much shelf space in a store,
it's trying to keep its voice in a sea of beverages, which include:
-Non-alcoholic mixers and beverages: coffees, ice tea & lemon-aid, juice coolers, flavored sodas, etc.
-Mixed drinks, and wine spritzers, and juice blends.
-Other alcoholic beverages such as beer, and spirits.
-Sports, health drinks, even bottled water.
As much as I like wine, sometimes a kombucha really hits the spot.
Or if I need to drive, a glass of mineral water will have to do.
Beverage options are exponentially expanding.
People are looking for sustainability made products. For the benefit of their health and the world. How do we do this and make it a way of life; not a diatribe? By making small and large changes, even in the wine industry.
#5 Guest Experience
Trends show that tasters are looking for an “experience" along with their wines.
Consumers are drinking better, not necessarily more, wine. Couple that with online wine shopping and there is less opportunity for discovery, or impulse, wine purchases in tasting rooms.
What are tasters looking for? That “something special” to go along with their wine moment--and seeking out wineries who can provide it.
Common wine experience trends include wine and....
But what about small wineries? Or winemakers who don't event have their own tasting room? Are you...near the beach, on a ski route, or close to hiking? A hip, urban winery, or set in a quiet, bucolic setting? Show off what's special about your winery or tasting experience!
Cheers, and clink your glasses to one of these wine trends,
For more Wine Jaunts Beyond the Bay Area, take a look...
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