Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

Non traditional Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

So we did a non-traditional Thanksgiving this year. We bagged the turkey and instead did a stuffed flatiron steak, and instead of potatoes for a starchy side, we went with a pumpkin lasagna. We of course tied in some traditional sides with cranberries in red Belgian ale, green beans almandine and a bright arugula salad with flavors of the season with apples, pecans, maple syrup and bacon. So what to pair with our eclectic Thanksgiving? We dug into the cellar and here’s what we decided.

Start with a sparkler!

It’s a celebration and I was ready to celebrate when we finally had dinner complete and ready to eat. We looked in the wine fridge and Michael pulled out a sparkling wine from a very (I mean VERY) small winery called Lumiére in Temecula, California. We did a blog post on them awhile ago which you can read here. Lumiére is only open on weekends and only once have we been able to stop by. The owner and winemaker’s mother, Martha was there pouring. They have a charming tasting room on a hill off of Calle Contento Road on the North side.(more on the winery here). One of the final things we tasted was their Voulez Vous Brut sparkling wine.

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This is a Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc and it was lovely with the salad of arugula, pink lady apples, pecans, maple brown sugar bacon and the dressing of maple syrup and yogurt.

Chardonnay with Pumpkin Lasagna

So an Oaked Chard with a rich cheesy pumpkin lasagna seemed the right choice and allowed us to relish some great memories at the same time. We pulled a bottle of 2011 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay. This Santa Barbara County Chardonnay comes from the Los Alamos Vineyard and was a gift when we stayed at the Clendenen Ranch in the spring. This vineyard is beautiful, take a look at the photo on our homepage. That was the view we were privileged to enjoy. The home is warm and obviously meant for relaxing and entertaining friends & family. There is history here also. The first Au Bon Climat Winery was in a small barn that you can see from the house. The story, as Marissa told us is, after long days of harvest the folks that owned the house on the hill and had the olive orchards would invite the entire gang up for dinner. When the owner was looking to sell the property,s Jim Clendenen quickly bought it up, as it was filled with so many fond memories. The previous owner still makes olive oil from the olives on the trees, which you can find in her olive oil tasting room in Los Alamos called Global Gardens.

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This Chardonnay is one of their Historic Vineyard Collection Wines. They harvest by hand, gently press and then ferment in 75% new French Oak and leave them in these barrels to age surlee for another year.  The amazing thing about this wine is that you get the richness of the oak and a full nose and then it is beautiful and bright on the palate. If you ever want to explain to someone what French Oak is…pour a glass of this and stick their nose in it.  Au Bon Climat has a tasting room in downtown Santa Barbara and a history that is as rich and exciting as their wines.

So as a pairing the richness of the nose of the Chardonnay, went beautifully with the lasagna and then the brightness of the wine on the palate kept you from getting bogged down in all of that glorious cheese! One sip had your palate reinvigorated for another decadent bite.  The Lasagna was more than just pumpkin too. We did 3 different types of puree, pumpkin, queensland blue and sweetmeat. Each got a layer in the lasagna between layers of ricotta, parmesan and fontina.

Stuffed Flatiron Steak Screams for a Red

This recipe called for a dry red wine. While it suggested a not too fruity Syrah or Zin…Michael found a beautiful 2008 Ferrari-Carano Merlot. We opened this way early to start cooking with it and give the wine time to open up. We have a history here too. While working on Smokey Joe’s Café in Reno we were at the El Dorado Casino, which is owned by the Ferrari-Carano’s and got hooked on their wines there. We have since made a couple of trips to their Northern Sonoma Vineyard and Winery.

So these steaks are flatiron steaks which are a shoulder cut. They are pounded out and filled with a stuffing of toasted bread in olive oil, prunes rehydrated with the red wine, rosemary, roasted chestnuts, pancetta, pecorino, salt, pepper & cayenne. The Merlot went beautifully with this.

So there you have it. A feast to be thankful for with beautiful pairings that brought back great memories of visits to 3 different areas of California Wine country.   Now that’s a perfect Thanksgiving.

For more information on these wine regions:

http://www.temeculawines.org

Santa Barbara Vintners

Sonoma.com

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You can find more great Farm to Table recipes on our sister site  4Farm2Mrkt

Lorimar Winery, Wine and Art Inspiration.

Lorimar Temecula California

Lorimar Winery is located in Temecula California. Lormiar created a tasting room inspired by Music and Art. Our Video Homage uses Art & music to showcase their new tasting room.

Miramonte Winery, a backstage tour

Miramonte WInery

Join us for a tour of Miramonte Winery in the Temecula Valley of Southern California!

Miramonte is a boutique winery in the Temecula Valley in Southern California.  They provide a wide variety of music on the weekends on their patio.  As well as amazing cheese and charcuterie boards. This eclectic and artistically minded winery creates an incredible atmosphere for enjoying wines.

Wiens Reflection Vertical, wine tasting and pairings

Wiens Reflection Vertical

Wine is terrific, and when you pair it with food you can take it to another level.  Learning how to taste, decant and pair can be an exciting adventure.

The journey today is with a Vertical of three vintages of Wiens Reflections red blend.  There are differences because of the actual blends (they use different varieties of grapes each year), differences because of the climate in each year and then differences because obviously the older vintages have aged longer!  We taste the wines right out of the bottle and then decanted and watch as the flavors evolve. Then we pair them with meats cheeses and other foods and the flavors change again, enhanced (or not) by contrasting or complimentary flavors in the food.  It’s an exciting journey, join us and then try a tasting of your own! See original Post.

It’s a Viognier kinda day (with a little Chard on the side)

Viognier Night

It was Thursday and our night for pairings, so I pulled out Sid Goldstein’s book “The Wine Lover’s Cookbook” and pulled together a menu that will pair a little with Chardonnay and a little with Viognier.

We are having Chilled Corn and Sundried Tomato Chowder, Crab Jicama and Mango Salad with Lemon-Curry dressing and Chicken Paprika with dried apricot and almond relish.  The Chowder will pair with a 2007 Miramonte Chardonnay, the Crab salad will pair with both the Chardonnay and a 2010 Zaca Mesa Viognier (Happy 40th Zaca Mesa!), and the Chicken Paprika will pair exclusively with the Viognier.

Farmer's Market vegetables

Farmer’s Market vegetables

So this morning I got up early, hit the gym and headed to the Molto Vegas Farmers Market at the Springs Preserve to pick up the produce!

As you can see I scored fresh desert corn, butter lettuce, garlic, onion, a Meyer lemon, a mango, and two regular lemons.  I raided my pantry and freezer for chicken stock (we had some frozen that I Michael made), cumin, coriander, paprika, olive oil, honey, turmeric, chili powder and tarragon.  Hit the garden for chives and green onions and made a trip to Whole Foods for the rest.  I figured Whole Foods would be a one-stop shop for the varied items that I needed.  We picked up organic chicken breasts, blue crab meat, sour crème, dried apricots, sweet paprika, caraway seeds, sliced mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and pasta.  I picked up slivered almonds from the bulk area since I just needed 3 tablespoons, season croutons for the soup and jicama.  So I have seen sliced jicama in the produce section but they didn’t have any so I had to have someone come and help me find it!  It is a bulbous root that runs around $1.49 lb. and the one I picked ran me $2.79.  I only used about 1/3 of it.

So I started with the soup since it needed to chill for 3 to 4 hours.  Olive oil, onions, tarragon, cumin, turmeric and lemon zest get going in the soup pot then you add the corn, corn cobs, chicken stock and white wine.  I used a Viognier that I had already opened.  This boils, and then simmers a bit then you pull out the cobs and add the roasted garlic, lemon juice and sour crème and then process it in the blender or food processor.  Add the rough chopped sundried tomatoes and toss it in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours.

While that is chilling I jump onto the crab salad.  Crab meat, diced mango, diced jicama and then a dressing with Meyer lemon juice and zest, champagne vinegar, mayo and a homemade curry powder with cumin, turmeric, chili powder and coriander.  Mix it all up and pop it in the fridge for 2 hours.  (there is a chillin’ theme here!)

On to the relish for the chicken.  Dice the dried apricots; add champagne vinegar (it called for raspberry, but I wasn’t buying a whole bottle for ¾ teaspoon!), honey, green onions, caraway seed, lemon zest and toasted almonds.  Then chill this for an hour!

Plating of DinnerFinally the chicken.  I pound out the breasts season with salt, paprika, sage and lemon zest and brown them in butter and oil then drain them on paper towels.  Then cook the onions add the mushrooms, marjoram, sweet paprika, caraway seed and roasted garlic (I had this left over from the previous recipe and it gave a sweeter flavor to the dish).  Once this is cooked up I added the chicken stock and sour cream and then put the breasts back in.  I cooked up some buttered noodles to serve this on.

 

Now for the pairings.  The Chardonnay was beautiful with the Chowder.  And this chilled soup just develops more flavors the longer it chills.  (I enjoyed it for lunch for several more days!).  The salad was fine with the Chard, but the jicama really came to life with the Viognier.  The Chicken and the Viognier were spectacular on several levels.  The earthiness of the mushrooms and the sauce were really lovely creating a new depth when paired with the wine and then the apricots and the relish really popped.

 

All in all, I was pretty impressed with myself. Thanks Sid for the help!  I look forward to cooking my way through this book!

Field Blend Thursday

Field Blend Thursday from Crushed Grape Chronicles on Vimeo.

Mount Charleston is a great Spring Getaway, pair this with Bel Vino/Stuart Cellars Field Blend you have the Perfect Day Off.

After an afternoon hike at Mount Charleston, it was time for a simple but delicious dinner.  I had discovered beets in the garden this morning (I thought it was chard before!) so I planned to pull those up and roast them for a salad, on the way home I looked online to see what best compliments a beet salad and came up with….Riesling, pinot noir, pinot blanc, rose, and French Chablis.

We headed to Whole foods to be inspired by a protein.  Michael picked up 2 macadamia nut encrusted Mahi Mahi fillets and then some Thai quinoa salad.

In looking up pairings for the Mahi Mahi, I found some sort of matches…a pistachio crusted Mahi Mahi suggested a Pinot Noir other suggestions for Mahi Mahi included Gewurztraminer, Sav Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Malbec and Merlot…  And the Alton Brown recipe for Mac crusted Mahi suggested a buttery Chard!  What’s a girl to do?

Michael was definitely in a mood for white wine, so we settled on a Bel Vino Stuart Cellars Field Blend.  It is a blend of Viognier, Riesling and Muscat, so on the sweeter side.  We will pull it out of the wine cooler about 20 minutes before we plan to eat.

The Mahi Mahi will not have any sort of sweet glaze or fruit with it so the sweeter wine should pair nicely.  The beet salad will have Gorgonzola, herb greens and roasted salted pecans with a balsamic dressing, again not on the sweet side so the wine should be good with it.  Sweet wines should be sweeter than the dish they are paired.  I look for the saltiness in the salad and the fish to pair well with the wine.  The Thai spiced Quinoa should again be toned down by the wine and pair nicely.  Now I guess we wait and see what we get!

Overall the wine went fine with everything.  The quinoa turned out to be pretty bland, the salad with the beets, roasted salted pecans and Gorgonzola went nicely (especially the gorgonzola).  The fish smelled delicious and buttery and the initial taste was savory.  When paired with the wine it brought out a sweetness in the coating of the fish.

 

This was a perfect evening to enjoy dinner outside.  Who knows perhaps the gods will be kind and we will get another week or so of nice weather that we can enjoy before the heat takes over and we long for fall.  We will take advantage and enjoy it while we can!

Reflection Tasting in Vertical from Wiens Family Cellars

Wiens Family Cellars was having a Vertical tasting of their Reflections red blends and we couldn’t go…so we put together a vertical of our own.  We had the 2008, 2010 and the 2011.  These are of course blends, so they are all a little different, so this a little different from a typical vertical.  Typically you would have a single variety of grape or a fairly set blend that you would be comparing from year to year.  You would get the differences in the climate and season that affect each year’s harvest.  You would also be able to see how the wine ages.  We were able to do those things, but the field for comparison was a bit more wide open.  Let me take a minute to give you the breakdown on these three vintages.

  • 2008 Reflection is 30% Sangiovese, 28% Barbera, 28% Merlot, 14% Petit Verdot  with Alcohol 15.1  and Residual sugar .6%
  • 2010 Reflection is 63% Sangiovese, 14% Cabernet, 14% Syrah, 9% Zinfandel with 14.5 Alcohol and .5 % residual sugar.
  • 2011 Reflection is 42% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 14% Zinfandel, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Primitivo, 2% Montepulciano, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Dolcetto with 12.5 Alcohol! and .2 residual sugar

So as you can see this blend is Sangiovese based, but that’s about where the similarities end.  This makes for a brilliantly exciting tasting!  At the winery they are doing “Reflections of the Decades” and they are tasting 6 of these wines, 2006-2011. We somehow can’t find the 2009 so I must have already enjoyed it!  At the winery they are doing a decade theme starting with the 60’s for the 2006.  I perused their pairings and then went back to the suggestions with the wines. We picked up some Spanish meats and cheeses (yes I know, I could have picked up Italian!).  We did a tasting upon opening and then let them breathe for a bit and tasted each with the meats and cheeses.  For the pairings we went a little out of order and cooked them for each course.  I know it sounds tough, but…we have Trader Joes.  So here’s the run down for the pairings:

  • 2010 Reflection with a goat cheese and basil pizza, to which we added a little sage and thyme.
  • 2008 Reflection with Eggplant Parmesan
  • 2011 Reflection with meat lasagna and a spinach salad.

Then we had chocolate cake for dessert and tasted it with all 3.

 

We found that the wines opened up quite a bit over the course of the evening.  I had e-mailed the winery to ask decanting recommendations.  Bob was kind enough to get back to me and suggested decanting the 2010 and 2011 straight down into a decanter on the counter top to add as much oxygen as possible.  For the 2008 he suggested carefully pouring it down the side of a tilted decanter to give it some space to gently open up.   Thanks Bob!  Unfortunately, I do not yet own a nice decanter.  So…we took the advice the best that we could.  We opened up the 2008 and gently poured into glasses and let it air.  The other two we got the aerator out and poured them through to add oxygen.  On to the tasting!

 

Pairings – Scallops w/ mango salsa and Sauvignon Blanc and more…..

On our recent trip to Santa Barbara we picked up a bottle of Carhartt’s 2012 Sauvignon Blanc.  On the tasting menu it suggested a pairing of scallops or  mango salsa, sooo last  Thursday night we combined both.

Carhartt Pairing W/Scallops

Carhartt Pairing W/Scallops

Carhartt 2012 Sav Blanc

Carhartt 2012 Sav Blanc

The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc is from the Santa Ynez Valley with 47% of the fruit coming from the Carhartt vineyard, 17% from the Faith Vineyard, 18% from La Pressa and 18% from Curtis. (This is the geeky stuff I love that Carhartt kindly puts on the back of their labels!  Ready to geek out some

more?) The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, clone 1 on 101-14 rootstock grown on a vertical trellis system.  This was whole cluster pressed and fermented in 50% stainless steel and 50% neutral oak for 6 months.  Only 750 cases were produced.

The mango salsa I created was a simple recipe with mango, green onions, lime juice, cilantro and olive oil.  My mango was not fully ripe, so it had a little tartness to it.  Michael cooked the scallops in butter and olive oil with just salt and pepper.  We did a fresh herb salad from the garden with a sesame dressing, quinoa with herbs and some avocado/cucumber rolls from Whole Foods.

Michael remembered that we had 2 other whites open (we have a vacuum sealer and they had only been opened the day before!  Don’t worry!).  One was a Field Blend from Stuart Cellars.  This wine was 45% Chardonnay, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Viognier and 5% Muscat.  The Muscat definitely adds a sweetness to this wine.  Stuart Cellars was a winery in Temecula California, they were bought out by a company an are now named Bel Vino.  We had a bottle of Bel Vino 2012 Viognier also open, so…we thought we would give them all a shot! The Viognier I had really enjoyed the day before and the Field Blend is Michael’s go to.

Tasting Notes:

Bel Vino Stuart Carhartt

Bel Vino Stuart Carhartt

Carhartt Savignion Blanc 2012-17% from the Faith Vineyard, 18% from La Pressa and 18% from Curtis.

  • This wine was lovely on it’s own.  When we opened it I got lots of tropical fruit on the nose.  A little citrus, not overly grapefruit.  Later on as it opened up I got more apple, and a softer apple like a Fuji apple or a macintosh.
  • Scallops/ Mango-The Sauvignon Blanc held up to the mango salsa, and slightly tempered the brightness of the flavors.  It would be interesting to see how it would taste with a riper mango.  The flavors were nice with the quinoa and salad (I think it played nicely off of the sesame dressing) but with the avocado/cucumber rolls it was really nice!
  • Avocado Cucumber Rolls– …by far the Sav Blanc was the best pairing here.  It enhanced the cucumber causing the flavor to burst in cool refreshment in the back of my palate!

Bel Vino Viognier 2012

  • Scallops/ Mango– With the scallops and mango salsa the Viognier was very nice bringing out the sweetness in the scallops, it held its own here.
  • Avocado Cucumber Rolls- the Viognier was better with the roll as it had a little less sweetness and held it’s own.

Stuart Cellars Field Blend-45% Chardonnay, 35% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Viognier and 5% Muscat.

  • Scallops/ Mango- The Field Blend was the overall winner with the scallops and mango.  It brightened the mango and pulled out the sweetness in the scallop and while not an over the top OMG pairing, it was very nice.
  • Avocado Cucumber Rolls-The Field Blend was just a little sweet with the roll.  It picked up on the rice wine vinegar but it was a little sweet and heavy to pair with the cucumber/avocado. Had this been a roll with a little crab, the Field Blend would have probably been better, pairing with the sweetness of the crab meat.

This could become a Thursday event!  Look forward to some Pizza pairings and then possibly a take off on “The Taste” with spoon full tastings to pair.  This promises to make Thursdays my favorite night of the week!

Keyways Winery

Keyways Sign

We had stopped by Keyways in December and found it full and busy in the midst of their Victorian Christmas Faire.  We enjoyed walking into the tasting room decorated for the holidays with Santa reciting “The Night Before Christmas” before the fireplace.  It was truly enchanting…. and full.  So we didn’t stop to taste, we soaked in the ambience and went on our way with plans to return to taste on our next trip.

Keyways Onyx Bar

Keyways Onyx Bar

And so we did.  I was fascinated reading about their Brazilian Onyx bar, which is really beautiful.  Founded in 1989 by Carl Key, Keyways was one of the original wineries in the Temecula Valley.  The winery used to be known as the only woman-owned winery in Temecula. Terri Delayer, the female owner, sold the winery to Silverton Partners in late 2011.

The grounds here are beautiful and the tasting room feels like a wonderful small hotel lobby, with a seating area with a fireplace and the beautiful bar.

Keyways Lounge and Fireplace

Keyways Lounge and Fireplace

Our Wine Tasting started with  the 2012 Fume Blanc, which had grapefruit of course on the nose there was a little mineral and chalk on the back of this with spice on the finish and a little heat.  The 2010 Riesling was very nice with citrus on the nose and green apple on the palate. This wine was clear, minimally sweet, and really tasty in an unexpected way.  The 2010 Valley Cuvee Du Sud was my favorite.  It is a Rhone Blend with Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre as well as Petite Sirah, Cinsault and Viognier.  It had a wonderful cigar box nose with lovely tannins and warmth.  Think red berries with earth and spice.  There was a little peppery heat on the end.  Really beautiful.  The 2010 Valley Cuvee Du Nord is in a Northern Rhone style and is Syrah based with the same varietals as the Du Sud but in different proportions.  You get more fruit on this one and it is darker and chewier.  The 2008 Charbono had a sweet nose.  On the first taste it was sweet on the palate and then mellowed with additional tastes.  The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve had a sweet nose with dark chocolate.  The tannins here were more aggressive and the wine had a medium to long finish.

Keyways Bar

Keyways Bar

If you have a chance I definitely recommend getting here around the holidays with time to spend at the Victorian Christmas Faire.  There are vendors set up in the grassy area out front, Carriage rides in horse drawn carriages and the whole atmosphere is just amazing.  And don’t miss sidling up to that beautiful Brazilian Onyx bar and grab a glass of The Du Sud to enjoy while listening to Santa in front of the fire.

For more Pictures check out our Keyways Photo Page.

 

C’est la Vie – A Moulin Rouge themed evening of amazing food and wine

Europa Village, Moulin Rouge Themed Food & Wine Dinner from Crushed Grape Chronicles on Vimeo.

We had relaxed at the Inn at Europa Village with white sangria on the balcony overlooking the Winery and Vineyards, then had a nap and now were dressed (to the nines) and heading down the to Musical Wine Pairing Dinner at Europa Village.  All afternoon the scent of smoked pork wafted up to our room from the smoker outside that Chef Dean was using.

We strolled into the courtyard with some other guests, commenting on the red windmill lit up and tacked to the end of the winery.  There was some confusion as to why it was there.  This dinner was Moulin Rouge themed!

Europa Village has 3 labels for their wines Vienza is their Italian varieties and blends, Bolero for the Spanish and C’est la Vie for their French wines. Tonight was to be a celebration of their French Style wines with hors d’oeuvres, dinner as well as a musical performance with singers and Can Can girls!

We headed into the tasting room and checked in.  The first pour of the night was their 2011 Viognier.  We grabbed a glass and headed back out to the courtyard to enjoy the beautiful early evening.  We had a seat at one of the café tables outside the tasting room and enjoyed the view of the gardens and the Inn.  You could see the fire pit going on the patio up at the Inn.  The Passé course came by to pair with the Viognier.  It was a Tarte Flambée with Crème Fraiche, Onion & Lardons.  A perfect bite to start the evening.  People gathered, many here were “Societe” Members (members of the wine club) and knew each other.  We met a few people and were introduced to a few more, and then we were all directed to “The Cave” for dinner.

This is a simulated Italian Wine Cave built next to the tasting room where they hold events.  Tables were set for 8 and the Cave was dim and candlelit.  We found a table and met some more new people.  Dinner began with a word or two from the presenters followed by Chef Dean Thomas coming to explain each of the courses we would be enjoying.  The sommelier then spoke about the wines and we finished things off with a song, “Come What May” from Baz Lurman’s film “Moulin Rouge” along with the Debut course of Mushroom Bisque with a Chevre Gourgere and chive oil, paired with the C’est La Vie 2011 Chardonnay.  Michael hates mushrooms, so I snuck a look at him out of the corner of my eye as he tested the soup.  I felt sure that he would take a taste and then politely put it to the side.  Nope, after one taste, he went back for a second and third and finished the cup.  Chef Dean you have converted him!

The third course was our “Prima” and finally I got to taste that smoked pork!  This was smoked pork tenderloin & roast belly, duck confit “Kronenbourg” choucroute, De Puy lentils and legumes paired with the C’est La Vie En Vie.  This is a Rhone Style blend of Grenache, Syrah Counoise, Cinsault and Mourvedre.  En Vie means “In Life”.  This dish was delicious and aromatic and rich.

The next course was the Fromage Amuse.  A little cheese course (we are dong the French thing here!) to round up the savory flavors of dinner

The Finale Course our dessert was a Grand Marnier Soufflé Glace (frozen) with Raspberry Coulis & Citrus Supremes paired with the Vienza Grenache Rose.  We stepped away from France with this wine and this Rose was definitely on the sweet side.  It made a unique pairing with the Glace.

Throughout the evening we had been entertained by Can Can girls and vocals some from the movie and others from other Moulin Rouge and French inspired movies and musicals.

We strolled out very full into the moonlight through the gardens and then back to our Inn on the hill.  The fire pit on the patio was enticing, but we were sated and sleepy so we collapsed into the comfortable bed and waited to be awoken by the sounds of hot air balloons.

The Amazing and Relaxing Inn at Europa Village

Europa Inn Temecula

On our last trip to Temecula Wine Country, we spoiled ourselves a little and spent one night at The INN at Europa Village.  I highly recommend doing this.  We were in town to taste and go to a wine dinner at Europa Village and figured it would be a convenient time to treat ourselves to a stay at the Inn.  It was an amazing experience.

Europa Inn Temecula

Europa Inn Temecula

The Inn was built in the 80’s by Dick and Betty Ryan and at that time was called Loma Vista Bed and Breakfast.  The Inn offered 10 guest rooms, a 10 person Jacuzzi tub and full gourmet breakfast.  In 2006 Karl and Connie Sweigart bought the Inn and decorated each of the room with a wine theme.  Now owned by the Rancon Group who owns Europa Village it has been beautifully redecorated and is now run by Innkeepers Chef Dean and Nicole.

Europa inn Patio Drink

Europa inn Patio Drink

Chef Dean has an extensive culinary resume and has taught at several culinary institutes.  When we drove up to the Inn, which is situated, on a hill overlooking Europa Village and it’s vineyards, we were greeted by the aromas of a smoker that was cooking up dinner for the evening’s event at Europa Village.  I am very glad we were attending or I would not have been able to keep myself from going downstairs and begging for a bite!  It smelled fantastic.  We entered the Inn and Nicole greeted us and took us on a brief tour of the Inn and then to our room.  We were staying in the Viognier room, which has a balcony and unobstructed views of winery and vineyards.  She started to ask if we would like a white sangria to enjoy on the balcony, when Chef Dean walked in with two for us!  We took their advice to just relax and unwind and sat on the balcony to enjoy the view the sangria and the smell of dinner cooking.

The idea here is peace and serenity. There is a TV in the Main sitting room that is typically turned to a music station.  The rooms themselves are TV free.  The rooms, still named after wine grape varieties range from the Cabernet Sauvignon which is spacious with a private entrance a brick fireplace, Jacuzzi tub for 2 and French doors that open up onto the patio to the Sangiovese which is cozy with a window view of the front courtyard.  Treat yourself to a room with a view here and you can wake up to the sounds of hot air balloons landing behind nearby Callaway.  The rooms are beautiful and serene with beautiful artwork and clean lines all with a European feel.  You will find comfy robes in the closet, which will come in handy for a trip to the 8-person hot tub on the patio.  They also have a fire pit to gather around and watch sunset with a glass of wine.

Morning Coffee with Balloons

Morning Coffee with Balloons

After an amazing dinner at Europa Village prepared by Chef Dean we had a restful night of sleep and awoke in the morning in time to see several balloons landing nearby.  We got up and headed down for breakfast.  There is a community table in the dinning room as well as places set out on the patio.  We grabbed a cup of tea and coffee and found a table with a view on the patio.  As we sipped our beverages and started to wake up, two more hot air balloons flew into view and landed over the hill.

Europe Inn Fruit Salad Plate

Europe Inn Fruit Salad Plate

Chef Dean arrived with our first course of breakfast, which included a bruleed banana over a citrus custard with melon with bee pollen and strawberries in a mojito sugar glaze.  The citrus came from the citrus orchards right on the property.  The rest of the ingredients are sourced locally.  Chef Dean frequents the local family farms.

Europa Inn Breakfast Crepe

Europa Inn Breakfast Crepe

The main course was a Briton style crepe with mushrooms & Gruyere a sunny side up egg with chive oil, a fresh salad arugula and crisp green apples.  There was also a crème sauce for the crepe with fennel pollen.  I’m sure I’m leaving something out.  It was really delicious.  We stayed loitering not wanting to leave.  The roses were in bloom the morning was beautiful…I really could have stayed forever.

As we left, they said to come back.  We will…  I have this tucked away now as my rejuvenation center.  Thanks Nicole and Chef Dean for an amazing stay.