Wine pairing - an absolute must-do if you enjoy food, friends and fine wine. Earlier this month, I went with a group of friends to a pairing at Bella Grace Vineyards in Sutter Creek, California. Such a lovely name for a winery - it’s named for the two grandmothers of the family who started it. We enjoyed this pairing at their tasting room on Main Street in the cute little downtown area of Sutter Creek.
The house was built in the 1860s and has beautiful wood flooring throughout. When you become a member, you receive one wine pairing a year for 10 people. Make sure you pick the people you like most, because everyone gets pretty spoiled here - don’t waste on someone who wouldn’t appreciate it. Oh if only I could dine like this every night! Our group was pretty incredible.
For our pairing, there were 5 courses - just a sample of a bit of food with a bit of wine each time. This was definitely the best food I’ve ever had in my life. I used to be a picky eater, too, so it’s a proud moment to say that I totally cleaned every plate I was given (even tempted to lick, but of course I kept my manners). You really come to appreciate the subtleties of each wine and the way the food brings out the flavors in the wine. It makes you want to toss around words like “tannins”, “bouquet”, and my new favorite, “wine legs”. Having this experience also made me regret all the visits to Taco Bell that I've made in my lifetime. Utter trash panda in comparison to the decadent cuisine of BGV.
This is not a food blog nor do I enjoy describing every intricacy of a food dish, so I’ll spare you my commentary and instead show you our menu and then a picture of each item.
Those, by the way, are the most delicious garbanzo beans you could ever dream of. The recipe is available there as well and you betcha I'm making a truckload of them sometime.
I don't much care for peas but those snap peas are SO yummy.
A real highlight for me was when the gluten-FILLED bread and olive oils came out. At first I was like, hey great, some bread and oil, I know this will be tasty. But when I saw there were 3 different kinds - oh sweet holy moly mylanta. I would have been just fine if that was the only thing on the menu. Get in my belly.
I could’ve died right then and there as a happy woman, as I satisfyingly announced at the table. Why have I spent my whole life only ever knowing the sad and basic olive oil, when there are varieties to be had like lemon, garlic and basil? And that’s just scratching the surface. I’m forever changed. My. Word..
An unexpected and adorable bonus was Liam, the mini Aussie shepherd who quietly strolled in and out of the room, being his super cute self. It’s just not cozy and happy without animals around, and I was so delighted with this sweet pup.
In one of the lounge areas in the house, I found a book all about wine caves and I was sucked in. It’s on my bucket list now, to do a pairing in a wine cave - the ambiance and romance of it all must absolutely make the whole experience.
There were several other wineries we visited during this air bNb wine weekend! I’ll just share with you two of my favorite ones - Mediterranean and Karmere. Mediterranean is smaller and more intimate, has amazing wine, wonderful employees and a great view. Don’t forget to try their breadsticks either! Amazing. Emily was our estate host for the evening and she is perfect at what she does - very knowledgeable and more importantly has a great personality and makes your time there an absolute joy!
Karmere, with its spacious French chateau style tasting room, is much bigger and is perfect for a wedding with the terraced backyard and large outdoor patio for dining and dancing. AND you can also charge your Tesla here, if you happen to own one. There’s also a regular charging station if you need it (looking at you, Joel and Gaby!) one more lovely tidbit about Karmere: their vineyards are each named after women in their family, and the granddaughters’ vineyards were planted on the day or week that they were born. I just love that!
Oh, one more honorable mention - Il Gioello! The first thing I noticed when we pulled up was this beautiful building, reminiscent of my time spent in Nice, France where many of the buildings are this exact color of orange with the turquoise shutters.
For a moment I was transported back to those days in Europe. We enjoyed a bottle of wine outside while playing bocce ball and visiting with the local dog, a super happy and lovable bull mastiff named Oliver.
On this trip, I discovered a new favorite wine, Sangiovese. I can’t wait to come back to wine country when it’s not the dead of winter and the vines are in bloom. On our way home we stopped for some pictures at Caples Lake, which is frozen over and covered with lots of snow.
If you stuck with me this long, this last picture is for you!
"I don't think I've ever drunk champagne before breakfast before. With breakfast, on several occasions, but never before, before." - Breakfast at Tiffany's