Categories
Wines & Vines

‘Bounty of the county’ is just right – report on Sonoma wine auction

‘Bounty of the county’ is just right – report on Sonoma wine auction – includes recipes

Ann Walker

`Bounty of the County’ is just right

When it comes to putting wine and food together, the Sonoma County Wine Auction is on the right track. For the past several years the Showcase & Auction has followed the “bounty of the county” theme. The various events held in connection with the auction are centered around the wines of the county and locally-produced food. Everything consumed during the auction is Sonoma-grown – both wine and food.

It’s a perfect marketing ploy for the Sonoma County Wineries Association, the auction sponsor. The wine and food mix gives a solid selling theme to take to the consumer and trade – there are a lot of retailers at the auction every year – and fits well with today’s emphasis on health.

The Sonoma affair is on a rather large scale, of course, with about 100 wineries participating and four days of wine and food events. It takes plenty of dedicated volunteer help; but it would certainly be possible for smaller events to follow the same successful theme any place in the country.

Every region has its own combination of foods that could be featured, even if it were only a one-day or a half-day event. It not only serves to present wine to potential consumers, trade and media in a very attractive way, but has the side effect of bringing the wineries together. Once such an organization is established, it can turn its attention to other promotional and educational projects.

The official auction kick off for this year’s ninth annual Sonoma County affair came Thursday, August 10 with a barbecue and dance held at Glen Ellen winery.

Put aside the idea of typical barbecue food being a piece of half-cooked chicken on a soggy paper plate. What was served up at Glen Ellen was another kind of barbecue altogether. It featured five Sonoma County chefs, each preparing a meal built around chicken and salmon. Each chef was in charge of a “picnic station” where the food was served. In addition there were two dessert stations.

Even though there were about 1,000 guests in attendance on a warm summer evening, the event worked perfectly. With five stations there were short lines and plenty of tables scattered through the winery grounds to sit down and enjoy the food.

Chefs at the barbecue were Deborah Hazell-Krambs, of A La Heart Catering; Jim Hastings, Sonoma Hotel; John Meidinger, The Inn at the Tides; Klaus Scheftner, Chef Klaus Catering and Charley Anacar, Highland House. The desserts were provided by Bruce Riezenman of Prospect Park and Linda Hagen, Divine with Wine.

After the food there was dancing to Queen Ida and her Bon Temps Zydeco band. Dancing took place on one of Glen Ellen’s new crush pads, one of the most unusual uses I’ve ever seen a crush pad put to.

On Friday, the second day of the auction, auction bidders split up into groups of 10-15 and went to lunch at various Sonoma County wineries – again, the emphasis is on the companionship of wine and food and the natural presence of wine on the table.

I was lucky enough to be assigned a place at the table at Chateau St. Jean, where the lunch was catered by Linda Hagen’s Divine with Wine Catering company.

Friday night was a barrel tasting and dinner at Alexander Valley Vineyards. There were 41 barrels for tasting and the barrel auction. Winemakers were on hand to discuss the young wines and there were plenty of appetizers available – fresh local vegetables, breads, oysters and cheeses.

After the barrel tasting there was a five course meal, prepared by six local chefs, including: Rosemary Campiformio, St. Orres; Michael Hirschberg, Restaurants Matisse and Siena; Josef Keller, La Province; Todd Muir, Madrona Manor; Sam Rosales, a Truffles Restaurant; Jeff Young, Plaza Grill and Randi Hope-Middleton, Oui Catering.

Saturday was the auction itself at Sonoma Mission Inn. During the course of the auction, food stations were set up on the grounds of the Inn, again, offering a delicious variety of local produce, from salads to sausages.

That evening there was a formal dinner under the big pink tent at the Inn, with dancing following. Sonoma Mission Inn chef Charles Saunders was in charge of the lunch and dinner.

On Sunday, 22 Sonoma wineries held special open houses and the day ended with a farmers market at the Rodney Strong Winery.

The auction itself brought in a total of $352,964 to be divided among various Sonoma County charities. The 1988 auction raised $296,000.

Yvonne Michie Horn has compiled a paperback book, featuring a large number of recipes from this year’s events. You can order it from The Sonoma County Wineries Foundation, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95403 for $5.95, or call (707) 527-7701.

The Foundation has generously shared the following recipes with Wines & Vines readers:

Grilled Summer Vegetable Salad with vinaigrette (served at the auction lunch, chef: Charles Saunders)

1 eggplant 1 red onion 2 zucchini 2 yellow squash 1 red pepper 1 yellow pepper butter lettuce

The vinaigrette: 1 quart olive oil 12 oz. red wine 4 oz. balsamic vinegar 2 oz. cold water 6 oz. sundried tomatoes 2 oz. shallots, finely chopped 1 oz. garlic, finely chopped 1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped sugar salt and pepper

Grill peppers whole and rub the skin off. Cut remaining vegetables into thick slices, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill. Cut all grilled vegetables into 1-inch dice. Toss with sundried tomato vinaigrette. Serves eight.

To make the vinaigrette: Reconstitute sundried tomatoes in hot water to cover, drain and roughly chop. Combine with remaining ingredients and adjust to taste with sugar, salt and pepper. Prepare some hours in advance and allow to stand at room temperature to develop flavor.

Veal Cutlets with lime-spiked Mayonnaise (served at Chateau St. Jean lunch, chef: Linda Hagen. There are sources in Sonoma for range-fed veal.)

Ingredients for the Mayonnaise:

1 egg yolk, room temperature 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1/3 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup olive oil 1 teaspoon grated lime zest 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a deep bowl, beat egg yolk with 1 tablespoon lime juice until pale yellow. Combine vegetable oil and olive oil. Beat at a moderate speed while adding the oil drop by drop. After about 2 tablespoons of the oils have been added, begin to add remaining oil in a thin stream, stopping occasionally to make certain the oil is incorporating before adding more. When all the oil has been added and the mayonnaise is thick, beat in remaining lime juice, zest and salt. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.

The cutlets:

6 veal cutlets, about 1 1/4 lbs., sliced 1/4 inch thick 1/3 cup all purpose flour 2 eggs, slightly beaten 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs 1/2 cup olive oil salt and freshly ground black pepper lime slices

To prepare veal, pound each cutlet with a smooth meat pounder or heavy cleaver until about 1/8-inch thick. Dredge cutlets in flour, dip into the egg and then into the crumbs, patting to make certain crumbs adhere. In a large skillet, warm olive oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Saute cutlets until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels. Cut into 1-inch strips. Serve at room temperature with lime-spiked mayonnaise. Garnish with lime slices. Six portions.

Wines served with this dish were a 1986 Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyards Chardonnay and a 1985 Chateau St. Jean Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

PHOTO : Katie Wetzel Murphy was chairman of this year’s auction, which took in $352,964.

PHOTO : Robert and Ami Cheri Hower of Vintage Capital in Sonoma took a break from the auction action for a glass of wine and a Sonoma County pizza at Mary’s Pizza Shack.

COPYRIGHT 1989 Hiaring Company

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group