Foodies, there’s no need to stick to having lunch at restaurants while in wine country. Many wineries are taking food and wine pairings to the next level and offering incredible “farm-to-table” lunch experiences prepared by world-class chefs. Not only do they include fabulous farm fresh products AND include several different wines, but you’ll learn how to pair wine with food yourself, and they can be exceptional value for money! Here are some of my favorites:
1. St. Francis Winery, Sonoma Valley
St. Francis’s 6-Course Food & Wine Pairing is hands down one of the best values in wine country. For $50, you’ll get a delicious and entertaining lunch, learn how to pair wine with food, and make some new friends. The guy who was sitting next to me during my visit, a St. Francis wine club member, quietly admitted he had done it “maybe 50 times” and had brought every friend he can find. “This is actually how I learned to pair wine and food,” he confessed. This pairing experience is done in a group setting so you’ll meet many other friendly foodies during your experience.
$50 per person, Friday-Sunday, Three Seatings (11:00, 1:00 & 3:00) Monday & Thursday, Two Seatings (11:00 & 2:00)
2. Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate, Dry Creek Valley
At Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate you’ll get a more individual experience where you’ll sit at individual tables and the chef will come to you to explain the pairings. For $45 you can experience their 5-Course Wine & Food Pairing; a delicious array of generous bites, paired with four wines and a sherry. Michael Pryor is the Executive Chef at the winery and comes by way of Wine Spectator’s Greystone Restaurant at the CIA in Napa Valley, and the CIA in Hyde Park, NY. Chef Pryor works with local growers and small purveyors in Sonoma County & Napa Valley to seek out seasonal products.
$45 per person, Wednesday at 1 & 3pm, Thursday-Sunday at 11, 1 & 3pm
3. Chalk Hill Estate, Chalk Hill
At Chalk Hill’s Culinary Lunch Tour you can get an insider’s look at the treasures of Chalk Hill Estate plus satisfy discerning palates. You’ll see a Mission Style chapel, the organic garden and equestrian center – followed by three-course lunch, paired with superb Chalk Hill Estate wines. You’ll tour around in a convertible Hummer and get personally guided in a small group around the estate.
$100 per person – Available by appointment Wednesday through Saturday at 2:00pm. Reservations required.
4. Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville
Beyond his wines, Robert Mondavi wanted to share his passion for the “good life” by combining wine with food and art. Robert Mondavi Winery is one of the few Napa wineries with a kitchen and chef on site so it is able to offer lunch experiences that other’s can’t. The Harvests of Joy lunch enables you to be treated as a special guest, and even feel like part of the family, and hosted on a private tour around the winery. The lunch is upscale, but not intimidating. You will experience some of the Napa Valley’s fresh, seasonal farm-to-table cuisine paired with some of Mondavi’s best-known wines.
$115 per person – Harvests of Joy (Wednesdays & Saturdays at 11am)
5. Seghesio Family Estate, Healdsburg
Seghesio’s Family Tables, a 5-course signature food and wine pairing is a must for any Zinfandel lover. On today’s visit I was booked to do their signature food and wine pairing, the Family Tables. Many wineries are getting into food experiences now and Seghesio’s was recommended as one of the best in the area.
$60 per person. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between March and November at 11am, 12:30, 2:00 and 3:30pm.
6. Long Meadow Ranch & Winery, St. Helena
The Full Circle Experience at Long Meadow Ranch is a culinary and wine education experience that will take you behind the scenes into their organic garden, cattle ranch and winery. You’ll also get a wine and olive oil tasting back at Logan Ives House in St Helena then their pièce de résistance; a spectacular wine paired lunch at Farmstead restaurant hosted by one of their farm to table educators.
The “Full Circle” Experience is offered daily at 11:00am for lunch at $195 per person or at 3:00pm for dinner at $225 per person.
7. J Vineyards, Russian River Valley
The “Bubble Room” at J Vineyards also offers an exceptional seated food and wine pairing featuring a 3-course meal including rare library and small-production wines served with organic local ingredients.
$75 per person. Offered Thursday – Sunday with seatings at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm. Reservations encouraged; walk-ins welcome.
Do you have a favorite winery with a food and wine pairing you’d like to share? Please post it below.