Here’s the second article by my friend and guest blogger Charlotte Monte who attended the annual EDWA Vintners’ Dinner before thoroughly enjoying El Dorado County Passport weekend. If you missed the first El Dorado County article, please check it out. Enjoy!
The beauty of attending the Winemakers’ Dinner on the Friday night before heading out on an El Dorado County Winery Association Passport Weekend, is that you not only get to sample outstanding wines from a variety of local vintners, you actually get to sit and talk to them during the course of the meal. Winemakers, owners, and winery representatives rotate amongst the dinner tables, talking to guests, answering questions and generally making the evening not only tasty, but also informative and entertaining.
Sampling this pre-weekend smorgasbord also allows you to highlight or choose which wineries to make sure to visit over the weekend, if you haven’t already come up with a plan. I had already done that research ahead of time, so our itinerary didn’t change too much due to the dinner. My criterion was simple: I wanted to visit wineries we hadn’t stopped at during the previous two years’ Passport Weekends. As you can see, it is impossible to visit all the wineries in El Dorado County during one — or even three! — weekends, and the variety of wines and scenery to enjoy is worth revisiting again and again.
The dinner itself is worth an entire blog post, and so is a description of all the finger foods and food pairings we sampled at each winery. However, for the sake of brevity, I’ll just share some highlights.
Food Pairing Highlights. At David Girard, we were treated to an amazing paté de foie gras served on crisp bread, with a dried fig, bit of bleu cheese and a sprig of lamb’s lettuce. This was paired with their outstanding Coda Rouge, a light yet surprisingly full-bodied red, which was also featured at the Winemakers’ Dinner, when it was paired with prosciutto-wrapped pork loin and parmesan ‘smashed’ potatoes. Yum!
Hollywood-Themed Winery Highlights. This is a tie between Lava Cap (Gone with the Wind), and Colibri Ridge (Indiana Jones). In both cases, all the staff were decked to the nines in period costume, with full-on décor: real candelabras, movie posters, etc. They both had guest participation trivia games for a prize drawing, and Colibri Ridge gave away absolutely precious wine glass identifier tags made from corks.
Winery Grounds and Environs Highlights. Again, we have a tie: David Girard and Fitzpatrick. Both sit on fairly high hills, with vineyards sloping down below. The vistas are breathtaking, and the staff warm and friendly. Fitzpatrick even has a five-room B&B option, which we desperately hope to experience later this year.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour through El Dorado!