The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards celebrated a special four course meal on September 11 featuring menu items from The Restaurant’s former Executive Chef Kimball Jones and the current Executive Chef Matt Greco. Chef Jones is now the culinary director at Groth Vineyards and Winery in Oakville and guests had the opportunity to pair both Wente and Groth wines with the various dishes prepared by both chefs. Chef Jones’ wife Suzanne Groth, Owner and Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the family run Groth Vineyards & Winery visited with the patrons to share information about both the culinary treats and the Groth wines. In addition, Chef Greco and Christine Wente, fifth generation winegrower and President of the Wente Foundation Board were there to visit with the guests.
Wente Vineyards was founded in 1883 by C.H. Wente, an immigrant from Germany who purchased 47 acres in Livermore Valley. Now, 130 years later this is the oldest, continuously owned, family operated winery in the U.S. with the fourth and fifth generation Wente running the operation. Groth Vineyards & Winery started in 1982 when South Bay natives Dennis and Judy Groth purchase a 121 acre parcel in Oakville in Napa County. Dennis had served as CFO and Executive Vice President of consumer products for Atari and eventually President of the International Division at Atari. Groth continued to grow to its current 165 acre sustainably farmed vineyards in Oakville and Yountville, a beautiful California Mission style facility and a solid reputation as a producer ofCabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. This family operated winery now has the second generation team, Suzanne Groth as V.P. of Sales & Marketing and Andrew Groth as V.P. of Operation, fully involved in the winery operation.
The “Sharing the Vineyard Table” dinner brought together these two California winemaker families to deliver a taste treat to the patrons. Chef Jones was happy to have the opportunity to return to The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards and to share in the development of this dinner with Chef Greco.
The dinner started with a taste of the bubbly, a Brut Sparkling wine from Wente, paired with a delicious cornbread appetizer. Then the serving team brought out the Jones Farm Fall Fruit Salad created by Chef Jones with Frisee, endive, chicory, Mt. Tam toast and walnut dressing. This was paired with a 2013 Groth Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley. The fruit salad was a pleasant blend of fresh flavors and the wine had a wonderful crisp aciditybackbone and citrus/melon blend of flavors with a touch of the veggie qualities found in most Sauvignon Blanc wines. This was an excellent pairing with the salad providing a focus on the flavors of the wine and also a toning down of the acidity and a delicious finish.
Next up on the menu was a fantastic Shrimp Scampi Ravioli from Chef Greco with saffron, garden tomato, garlic breadcrumb and parsley. We were lucky enough to be able to pair this delicious dish with three different Chardonnay’s from Wente, California’s First Family of Chardonnay. the 2012 Wente Nth Degree Chardonnay from Livermore Valley, the 2013 Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay from Livermore Valley and the 2013Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay from Arroyo Seco in Monterey County. The 2012 Nth Degree Chardonnay is a wonderfully balanced, full-bodied Chardonnay with great flavors of tropical fruit and a touch of spice leading to a long smooth finish. The Morning Fog Chardonnay is part of the estate grown group of wines. It has flavors and aromas of green apple, citrus and tropical fruit plus vanilla and cinnamon with a good balance of acidity and mouthfeel. The Riva Ranch Chardonnay is part of the single vineyard line of wines and has a rich gold color and flavors of honey, apple, citrus, tropical fruit, honey, butter and vanilla. With this pairing you can see how different wines, produced by the same winemaker but different terroir (vineyard locations) can react differently to the same dish. With the Nth Degree Chardonnay the ravioli did not have a big effect on the wine, primarily because this was a terrific balanced wine that handled the pairing and came together with the ravioli naturally. The Riva Ranch Chardonnay had a variety of fruit flavors and the ravioli brought out these fruits significantly. The Morning Fog Chardonnay saw a nice softening of the acidity, citrus and tropical fruit flavors of the wine when paired with the ravioli.
The next dish was a grilled Porcini Crusted Steak from Chef Jones with greens, parmesan, lemon and Tuscan white beans. This was paired with a 2010 Groth Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville. This is a big lush Napa Valley Cab with dark berry flavors, a bit of earthiness and forest floor quality, clove, cassis, black raspberry, cinnamon and a long balanced finish. When paired with the steak, the combination brought out the fruitiness of the wine and enhanced the finish.
The final culinary treat was “Grandma’s Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake” with late summer berries, and a Macadamia ice cream. This treat was a collaboration of Chef Jones, Chef Greco and Pastry Chef Melissa Duesler of Wente. It was paired with a 2010 Murrieta’s Well Touriga Port. What a delicious way to end the meal with chocolate and port.
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards has several upcoming events including Chef Demos, Garden Luncheons and Garden Tours. Check out the Wente events calendar.
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