As festivals go, it may not be the largest or most well known, but Calistoga Food & Wine 2016 has put the Napa Valley region’s wineries and culinary offerings on the map for a third consecutive year.
Created by Solage Calistoga, the world-class luxury resort, in partnership with the Calistoga Wine Growers, the festival’s aim is to showcase the award-winning wineries and renowned chefs within the picturesque region. Solage invited DuJour for a stay and the opportunity to sample the best the area has to offer.
The first night of the weekend’s festivities included a choice of three Guest Chef Winemaker Dinners ($125 per person). DuJour dined with Chef Gustavo Rios of Evangeline, who teamed with wine-standouts Jericho Canyon Vineyard and Kenefick Ranch for a five-course tasting menu. The highlight was an hours-old organic egg (from a chicken fed rare red chilies) atop asparagus custard with poached mushrooms and a truffle butter sauce, paired with Kenefick’s“Caitlin’s Select” Cabernet Franc, 2012. Back at Solage Calistoga, Chef Brandon Sharp, of the seven-time Michelin-starred Solbar, partnered with Laura Michael Wines and famed Clos Pegase Winery to deliver a stellar experience. Around the bend at Sam’s Social Club, Chef Kory Stewart and Chef Donald Wressell created a memorable menu with Homage Vineyard and Coquerel Family Estates wines. Rumor had it that Stewart’s Oak Grilled Lamb dish (loin, sausage and shoulder, with olive oil crushed potatoes, grilled asparagus and spiced yogurt) was the evening’s standout.
The next afternoon, guests convened at Solage Calistoga’s Solstice Event Lawn and Barn for the Grand Tasting Event ($95 per person). Over 30 of the area’s most celebrated wineries tasted a selection of their best vintages and current releases. Highlights included Jericho Canyon Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and 2011 vintages, as well as their 2012 Chimera; JAX Vineyards (with mother-daughter team Jane Jackson and Kimberly Jackson Wickam pouring) 2013 Y3 Pinot Noir and 2014 JAX Y3 Rosé had us longing for summer; Rich “Duck” Czapleski’s Canard Vineyard 2013 Zinfandel and 2012 The Rescuer (a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend) were extremely satisfying; Vintner Mark Carter’s eponymous Carter Cellars sole purpose is to craft exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon like his 2013 Coliseum Block Cab and 2013 Beckstoffer To Kalon ‘The O.G.’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Other memorable tastings included Larkmead Vineyards, Huge Bear Wines and Phifer Pavitt Wines. Guest chefs included Chef Lars Kronmark of The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Ken Tominaga of Hana Restaurant, Reylon Agustin, Executive Sous Chef of Rosewood Sand Hill, Chef Kory Stewart of Sam’s Social Club.
A Chef & Sommelier Brunch ($65 per person), again on Solage’s picturesque grounds, capped the festival the next morning, with a final helping of comfort food from the participating chefs. A fond farewell, indeed…until next spring.