I took a rare Saturday off on June 2nd to attend and be a "celebrity" judge at the 2nd Annual Carneros Heritage Fest. What a gas!
The party, hosted by the Carneros Wine Alliance, is held at the Donum Estate in the Carneros Valley, a gorgeous, windy spot where Napa meets Sonoma.
Chef Marc Rasic, who runs Google's Euro restaurant, had grilled lamb along with lamb burgers, plus Rancho Gordo scarlet runner beans, salads and more. The area wineries all poured their best wines and music was provided by the Back Burner Blues Band, featuring local favorite Joey Altman on guitar.
The food was great and wine were great but another part of the event was watching the trained border collies herd goats in dead silence.
Their trainers were around and happy to answer all our ignorant questions. What was amazing is seeing the dogs come back just beat and tired but constantly watching the goats and their trainers to see if they'd have another chance to go back out.
I go to a lot of "wine country events" and they range from bad Great Gatsby-inspired snoozefests to pedestrian to actually fun. The really good ones are rare and you sometimes feel like you're living in a white wine commercial. This is one of the good ones! The mood was relaxed, the food was good and the wine was delicious.
As an added bonus, I got to be one of six judges for a lamb cook-off between Clint Cook (Mac Hotel), Preston Dishman (The General's Daughter), Janine Falvo (The Lodge at Sonoma), Graham Jones (Regusci Winery) and Matt Mermod (Bleaux Mognolia). The dishes were all great and being a judge isn't easy. My fellow judges included Joey Altman (Food TV/Bay Cafe), Chris Blanchard (REDD), Kimball Jones (The Carneros Inn), Bill Niman (Niman Ranch), and Marc Rasic (Euro at Google).
All in all, a perfect day, except for poor Joan, who had to do the market all by herself.