Have you ever been to a winemakers dinner? Was it amazing, delicious, intimate, full of organic and local food, beautiful presentation, conversations with the wine owners, details from the Chef…was it “Yum!”? We can’t imagine a winery in Paso Robles, California that doesn’t include all of those things, but here is a description of a real night at a real restaurant that exemplified what your winemaker’s dinner should embody.
Place: Thomas Hill Organics Restaurant. Known for organic and local fresh cuisine, gluten free and vegetarian options, grass-fed local meats, local fresh seafood, contemporary but comfortable setting and located in the heart of downtown Paso Robles.
Chef: Chris Manning, originally from Napa Valley and now executive chef at Thomas Hill, came out and described each plate, the ingredients and how it pairs with the wine.
Winery Owners and Winemakers: Kim and Doug Hauk are a lovely couple that run HammerSky Vineyards right off of highway 46 West on Vineyard Drive. Their winery is known for its scenic grounds and gardens, historical farmhouse where guests can stay, big open barn, award winning and complex wines that cater to all palates with an array of varietals, unique classes and events that are wine centered as well as their exceptional wedding venue where many photographers win awards based on their breathtaking vineyards.
So obviously pairing these two is a long-lived marriage because of their high quality service and product as well as the intimate dedication each business has to deliver to their fans. Despite their popularity, high caliber resumes and busy schedules, these people sat with the guests and shared a quiet night of amazing food and wine. The atmosphere was not pretentious but homey, the conversations were open and thoughtful and the variety of people ranged from visitors from the East Coast, sommeliers, a manager of a prestigious hotel and another restaurant, a chef from another high-end local restaurant, a Hollywood film photographer and local wine and food enthusiasts.
Goat Cheese Tartelette | Strawberry – Rhubarb Marmalade Balsamic Reduction
Pistachio Crusted Calamari | Blond Frisee | Ruby Red Grapefruit Piment d’Espelette Aioli
Paired with HammerSky Rose’ Zinfandel 2013
Pan Seared Foie Gras | Poached Pear | Brioche | Wild Arugula Vanilla | Spring Onion
Paired with HammerSky Merlot 2010
Paired with HammerSky Zinfandel 2010
Spiced Chocolate Cake | Macerated Berries | Whipped Cream
Paired with HammerSky Zinfandel 2012
As mentioned the Chef, Chris, described all of the food and the ingredients, the process and how the wine paired with the chosen flavor combinations. Debbie, the owner of Thomas Hill Organics was also there and sat with the group enjoying the meal and talking with guests.
It is always a treat to not just have the winemaker but also the chef and all the people involved in the meal, talk about the synergy and combinations. There was a wonderful spirit of giving and as Kim Hauk said, “It was like going to dinner with family and friends.”
So wherever you go for a night out at a winemakers dinner, be it a vineyard, winery, restaurant, barn or ranch… expect an experience of perfect wine pairing, unique and local fresh cuisine, great conversation and foodie education! Some other great places around HammerSky Vineyards that offer winemaker dinners and events are Rangeland Wines that does a grass-fed lamb or beef meal using their ranch meats paired with their different varietals, Poalillo (po-lil-o) Vineyards, Brecon Estate, Oso Libre, Opolo Vineyards, Jada Vineyards and Shale Oak. Check in with our Events Tab for upcoming events and dinners or sign up for our Newsletter to get the latest monthly wine happenings!