If you have tasted Imagery Wines at any point in the past few years, chances are pretty good that you’ve tasted something from our Upper Ridge Vineyard. This special piece of property has the distinction of being the highest-elevation vineyard in Sonoma County at about 2,600′. It’s also where we grow many of our not-so-easy-to-find varietals such as Lagrein, Riesling, Tannat and Teroldego.
Upper Ridge spans about 30 acres at the top of the Pine Mountain / Coverdale Peak American Viticulture Area. Grapes have been grown since around 1855 but it just gained AVA status in 2011. In addition our vineyard, there are a handful of other winegrowers producing out of the area and several great farmers and ranchers. This, along with the stunning physical beauty of the mountain provided a perfect backdrop for a collaborative dinner organized by Outstanding in the Field. If you are unfamiliar with this organization, we highly recommend researching them. Outstanding in the Field finds beautiful locations where local growers, chefs and winegrowers can come together to offer a dinner focused on a specific area so guests can enjoy local food and wine in the place (or very close to the place) where they are grown. Guests dine at one of the farms or vineyards at a long table where everyone sits together and mingles. To further encourage the sense of community, everyone brings a plate from their collection at home and then adds it to a large stack where guests choose a unique plate. This is often a great icebreaker when everyone sits down together. And yes, you get your plate back at the end.
We have long been fans of this group, which is why we were thrilled when we were asked to pair and pour our Upper Ridge wines for a dinner being held on June 1st at Split Rocks Spring Ranch, a garden and olive oil producer about four miles down the road from our Upper Ridge Vineyard. Mark Liberman, the Executive Chef for AQ Restaurant in San Francisco created a delicious menu featuring produce from Split Rocks Springs Ranch, Six Oaks Farm and others in the area.
The evening started with our 2013 Riesling being poured for thirsty (and hot) guests as they arrived at the ranch. Passed appetizers included “shooters” of kohlrabi and coastal squid, kale chips and molasses smoked ham and aged goat cheese. These small bites and the warm weather paired perfectly with our crisp, dry Riesling. After a presentation about the farm and producers, all 150 guests were led on a short walk to a long table where we all picked our plate and sat together to enjoy a delicious salad of summer squash, squash blossoms, goat cheese, basil and spring onions paired with our 2013 Wow Oui, a blend of Sauvingnon Blanc with some Viognier and Muscat. The Wow Oui was a hit, and the label artwork sparked lengthy and colorful conversation as well!
Next up was a pairing of wild poached salmon with our 2011 Upper Ridge Tempranillo, a medium-bodied red that is balanced enough to pair with fish and robust enough to highlight the grilled rhubarb, horseradish, meyer lemon and rosemary panzanella that accompanied it. Following that was a roast pork rubbed with nettle and sweet woodruff and paired with our 2011 Upper Ridge Malbec, a delicious and popular wine which recently grabbed a Best of Class Gold Medal and earned 95 points at the LA International Wine Competition.
We ended the night with olive oil cake from the very ranch we were dining at and reluctantly said good-night as the sun went down. Big thanks to Outstanding in the Field for inviting us to participate in this wonderful event, to the talented kitchen staff at AQ Restaurant and to our neighbors up at Pine Mountain / Cloverdale Peak who paired their fresh, delicious fare with our wines to make them even more enjoyable. Cheers! We hope to see you all again soon. In the meantime, enjoy a few shots from the event.