Our First Winemaker’s Dinner

Last year we were personally invited to our first winemaker’s dinner for locally produced wines by Leaf & Vine at San Rafael’s Panama Hotel Restaurant & Inn, on a weekend which was also our 24th anniversary.  I was reminded of this adventure after spending time at Leaf & Vine’s Bar 11 location in Petaluma this past Sunday to taste their new releases.  As soon as we returned home from our tasting and picnic at Bar 11, I began digging through Facebook albums and computer  files in search of photos from last October’s dinner.

A little about Leaf & Vine: “Leaf & Vine is the story of two generations – father and son – working toward the common goal of producing world-class, single vineyard, single varietal wines.  It’s about starting something from the soil, and building it together.  They have a story to tell, one filled with adversity, triumphs, and a lot of fun!”

Here’s a taste of our memorably delicious three-course winemaker’s dinner …

First Course (oops – almost ate it all before taking a photo): Panama Salad with Wild Mushroom Ravioli; served with Leaf & Vine‘s 2010 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc … yummmm. Winemaker’s notes: This wine has developed a layered mouth feel with sweet, soft tannins without any residual sugar. The acidity is still crisp – letting you know that it’s Sauvignon Blanc – but its complex nature really separates it from a Sauvignon Blanc market that has become generic. (This is starting to change; there are some really interesting winemaking techniques being used in recent years.) On the nose the wine is laced with stone fruits and citrus notes; a hint of lemon grass and vanilla really give this wine a spice character that balances that Russian River fruit.

Second Course: Pt Reyes Blue Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Figs with balsamic reduction drizzle. SORRY – We ate them before taking a photo!  However, here’s the DELICIOUS Leaf  & Vine‘s 2010 Vista Luna Vineyards Petite Sirah.  So smooth for such a young wine – changed my mind about Petite Sirahs!  Thank you, winemaker Tim Keith!  I was thankful to enjoy another tasting of this particular wine this past weekend.

Third Course: Beef Short Ribs with sautéed rainbow Swiss chard, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, buttermilk battered onion rings.  Paired with Leaf & Vine‘s 2010 Amador County Zinfandel. Winemaker’s notes: Using a diverse mixture of French Oak barrels we’ve produced a wine that rivals anything you will find from Dry Creek, Napa Valley or other similar appellations. it’s aromatically complex with smells as diverse as Black Pepper, Molasses, Rhubarb, Mint, Blackberries, Anise and Vanilla; let it sit in the glass and all the beauty of briar patch fruit and the Amador terroir come through. The mouth feel has length and structure that rivals many Napa Valley Cabernets, but with the same bright up front vibrancy you hope for in a great Zin.

And now for the unplanned, always required (and what should be the FIRST course – as my partner claims) Fourth Course


Thank you winemaker Tim Keith, as well as to his dad and our friend, Rick Keith.  We enjoy the fruits of your labor! (BTW, in Petaluma, you can find Leaf & Vine wines at LUMA and Water Street Bistro.)

We look forward to additional winemaker’s dinners in our future, as well as another visit to the Panama Hotel (maybe even an overnighter in one of their themed rooms).


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