I'm not sure if it was the price or a personal preference, but my parents always seemed to have a bottle of Kendall-Jackson sitting around. It wasn't bad, it wasn't amazing, just your ordinary table wine. So when Brian Kraemer (the man behind the Kendall-Jackson blog) contacted me about coming out on a press trip I was hesitant to accept at first.
But after doing a bit of research I found out that they have five lines of wine ranging from their Vintner's Reserve, to their Stature (which sells for $120 a bottle!) I also found out that all their grapes come from "cool coastal" regions of California. Being a fan of wines that come from cooler climates this sounded promising. And so I accepted.
Tonight was the first official night of the trip and we were whisked over to the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in Santa Rosa. It's a beautiful property complete with a vegetable garden where a lot of the produce we were about to eat was picked earlier in the day.
Upon arrival, we were seated in what I can only describe as a grand ballroom, with seven glasses of wine in front of us. We were about to be treated to their Wine and Food Pairing. Not some fancy impress-the-food-bloggers meal, or something you need to make a reservation two months in advance to enjoy. This is something anyone can do by showing up and asking for it.
If you read my other blog, you know I love food. The thought of being able to go wine tasting AND nosh on food paired for each wine is irresistible! The sweet tea brined Niman Ranch pork belly which was paired with their 2007 Highland Estates Alisos Hills Syrah was probably the best thing I've put in my mouth in the past month. I contemplated begging for the recipe, and then I realized the recipe is online!
Other standouts included the buttermilk panna cotta with stawberry gelee paired with the 2008 Late Harvest Riesling; and how could anyone not love caramel corn paired with a 2007 Late Harvest Chardonnay -- pure heaven in a Chinese take-out box.
At this point, I thought dinner was over. Silly me! As it turns out, dinner was to follow outside. We were ushered out the doors onto a patio lit in ocre and crimson hues by the setting sun. Pizza from the wood burning oven, along with roast veggies and tomatoes from their garden was on the menu as were a few more delicious wines.
Somehow I missed out on getting a seat at the table with the meat pizza, so after knocking back a few more glasses of wine, and cramming in a generous helping of tiramisu, I headed over to the pizza oven to see if they'd let me try my hand at making a pizza.
I made this eclectic pizza, by brushing the dough with olive oil, putting down a scattering of mozzarella, layering on maitake mushrooms, artichokes, sausage, and cherry tomatoes, then finishing with chili flakes, salt, and a little more cheese. Since I couldn't fit in another bite, I ended up taking it back to my room for breakfast tomorrow... But as I write this post at 11:48pm, I'm munching.
So has Kendall-Jackson won over a new fan? There's still three days left, but stay tuned to find out!
Full disclosure: Kendall-Jackson covered all expenses for this trip. While I strive to provide you with honest, unfiltered opinions on this site, the federal government requires that I disclose this relationship with you.