The Ultimate Art & Wine Pairing

 At Eric Kent Wines one will find artistry both inside and outside the bottle.

Over ten years ago, husband and wife team Kent Humphrey and Colleen Teitgen set out on a two-part mission to create premium wine, and to also offer exposure to emerging artists. What resulted is the incomparable smash-up of fine art and fine wine that is Eric Kent Wines.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.06.02 PMAs curator and producer of labels for Eric Kent Wines, Colleen Teitgen’s goal is to “feature exceptional art on our labels and share each artist's story with you.” The art she features includes a broad range of mediums; from illustrations, painting, and sculpture, to collage, photography, and even poetry.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.03.08 PMThe elegant packaging is just the beginning. The wines at Eric Kent are world class. Winemaker Kent Humphrey humbly credits the vineyard owners and managers with achieving the quality his wines express. He lets the uniqueness in the fruit he sources guide the winemaking. The result is the best show of appreciation a winemaker can offer the “unsung heroes” that provide him with premium raw materials: hand-crafted small lots of unparalleled quality and distinction. While the focus at Eric Kent Wines is primarily Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah, they recognize that every separate lot will take on a personality of its own. “We approach each wine as an individual wine, offering its own unique expression.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.00.45 PMThe respect they have for their growers extends to their fans as well. One third of the wine they produce is sold through their allocation list, which Kent says was designed to be the “anti-list.” While other small fine wine producers tout exclusivity, Eric Kent Wines wants everyone to share in what they have to offer. When you sign up for their list online, you customize it so that you can sample as little or as much as their limited supply will allow.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.02.13 PMBut, like many of our great local Santa Rosa producers, the supply of Eric Kent Wines is limited. They’re currently producing about 4000 cases annually; a mix of varieties and styles as eclectic as the art that adorns their labels. While they have no permanent set up to host tastings, they’re happy to offer tastings and tours by appointment at their Santa Rosa facility.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.04.58 PMFor more information, or to set up an appointment to sample their wines, visit them online at www.erickentwines.com or call (415)244-9453.


Hobo Wine Company

Kenny Likitprakong (sound it out) has been making wine under his Hobo Wine Company label since 2002. Driven by wanderlust, Kenny took Hobo from the Monterey Coast, to the mountains of Santa Cruz, to Potter Valley, and everywhere in between. Speaking of his youth, Kenny said, “I think I spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties chasing the rambling ways of the American Hobo.”

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In that tradition, he was reluctant to call any one place his home, making his wine in custom crush facilities and barrel cellars of welcoming wineries throughout northern California.

tumblr_nphrf4421U1r4n09co1_500This rootless existence, however, had its advantages. Kenny had the flexibility to choose the grape, vineyard, appellation, and the winery on an ongoing basis. He added, “And with a larger circle of people involved you get more ideas and expertise.”

But some journeys come to an end, and in 2013 Hobo Wine Company put down roots. It should be noted that Kenny is something of a walking contradiction. He’s meticulous and painstaking in his winemaking, but relaxed and casual in his demeanor. Warehouse4

His newly completed facility, a refurbished downtown warehouse, reflects that spirit; part club house, part state-of-the-art artisanal winery at its finest. “The best thing about small-lot winemaking is the fun. You can do anything you want,” he said.

In addition to the Hobo Wine Company brand, Kenny and his small crew developed an eclectic number of spin-off brands that reflect the diversity in the wines they are producing.

HOBO_grandeThe original Hobo wines are all Sonoma County, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, showcasing the varied qualities from the countless appellations across the county.

CAMP_grandeThe Camp label is Sonoma County as well, but the focus is on value. Working with some talented growers from lesser-known vineyards, the Camp wines are food friendly and affordable.

Banyan_grandeSpeaking of food-friendly, Hobo Wine Company created Banyan with the cuisine of Southeast Asia in mind. Originally offering a number of aromatic whites, the line has been trimmed down to just their most popular wine, the Banyan Monterey County Gewürztraminer.

FolkMachine_grandeFolk Machine started as their Pinot Noir focused brand, but quickly became host to more esoteric varietals like Chenin Blanc, Charbono, and Tocai Friulano.

MakeWork_grandeMakeWork is Hobo Wine Company’s experimental brand, featuring extremely small lots of wines that may (or may not) become a permanent member of the Hobo Wine Company family.

You can find Hobo Wine Company brands all over Sonoma County but Kenny and his crew are happy to host private tastings. Just off the railroad tracks (of course) Hobo Wine Company is located at 412 Timothy Road, Suite C, in Santa Rosa. Call Kenny at (707)887-0833 for an appointment or email kenny@hobowines.com

 


Restaurant Week, Reviewed

Last week was Sonoma County Restaurant Week, and the Santa Rosa Out There blog ambassadors are here to tell you what was on the menu around town.

If you haven’t heard of, or gone out to eat during Restaurant Week, you’re going to want to. Participating eateries offer great values on prix-fixe menu options that highlight their locally sourced offerings. So mark your calendar for next March, and get all the information you need here. SonomaCounty.com/restaurant-week 

Amber Lucas, The Tudor Rose English Tea Room

Amber hit a few of her favorites during Restaurant Week, starting with one of the more unique spots in Downtown Santa Rosa, The Tudor Rose English Tea Room.

unnamed"On Friday afternoon I sat down to lunch (after choosing my hat from the wall), selecting their $15 prix fixe menu. It included a pot of tea, a selection of finger sandwiches, a savory pastry, a scone, and a cookie. The selection of sandwiches included cucumber and cream cheese with herbs, egg, and chevre with fig and candied pecans. For my tea I selected the Tudor Rose: it is a fragrant tea with hints of vanilla, and it is delightful with milk and sugar.

unnamed-3But it was the savory pastry that stole the show: buttery and flaky, it was stuffed with vegetables in a brown gravy sauce. My teapot shaped cookie was also a highlight; light and buttery while not being overly sweet. I hadn’t expected to leave full, thinking that I would be going for a “snack experience.” However I ended up leaving with leftovers!"

TudorRoseTeaRoom.com

 

Amanda Janik and Melissa Keyser, CIBO Rustico Pizzeria

By some incredible case of Out There coincidence, Amanda and Melissa both went to the same restaurant. That means you get CIBO Rustico reviewed by two of Santa Rosa’s leading voices on the local gourmand community.

Amanda had an old college friend in town. They chose CIBO Rustico as a way to hark back to their days of pocketing bottle deposit money to buy pizza.

"The space itself is inviting, with its long, family-style tables where you might be seated next to a stranger, but will almost certainly leave having made a new friend.

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Love of community is a clear presence at CIBO. The menu showcases the wine, beer, juice and produce of their neighbors. Behind the restaurant is the CIBO Organic Garden, where much of what you’ll find on your plate or pizza is grown.

We were seated right away and soon presented with a taste wines from around the neighborhood. First the D’argenzio Sagrantino. Then the Krutz Chardonnay. Then the D’argenzio Super Tuscan. Let’s just say: they were generous with their tastes. And, with everything for that matter. While technically they were participating in the 3-course dinner option of Restaurant Week, theirs was a 4-course meal which included an appetizer, second course, main course and dessert.

A quick glance at the menu shows that they make good use of their wood-fire oven. Many dishes are roasted and come out with that amazing smoky flavor. Between the two of us we sampled their Bufala Mozzarella and prosciutto-wrapped roasted asparagus appetizers, their organic arugula salad with shaved parmigiano and roasted prosciutto and their organic roasted cauliflower, broccolini, asparagus, string bean and green onion dish to start. We mulled over our many pizza options for a while - because pizza! - but finally settled on a pesto, garlic and prosciutto for Mary Ellen and a truffle oil, red pepper, mushroom and shaved parmigiano for me.

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Before we had to fret over which dessert to choose, the owner presented us with all three - all local and organic, of course. We shared a cold-pressed coffee with cashews, dates, vanilla beans and sea salt, a vanilla bean cashew milk with dates and sea salt, and my personal favorite, apple slices with burrata and black pepper honey.

After a very long and incredibly busy week, we were their last customers of Restaurant Week, and we were treated with such friendliness and warmth we barely noticed they’d turned off their ‘Open’ sign and were probably waiting desperately for us to leave so they could all go home and sleep for the next two days.

No amount of bottle deposit money could have given us such a nice evening back in our college days. Thank you, CIBO Rustico, for helping me impress my friend!"

Melissa’s experience was no less welcoming.

"Tucked between D’argenzio Winery and Fogbelt Brewery on Cleveland Ave., I had no idea that CIBO Rustico existed. My husband and I were the first to arrive for lunch, and the owner Ray welcomed us with a small pour of a voignier blend. I liked the place already!

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The menu for Restaurant Week consisted of 4 courses, and for lunch, you could choose two. I opted for the buffalo mozzarella with prosciutto and olive oil appetizer, and the fennel sausage mushroom pizza. My husband ordered wood fired mixed veggies and a margherita pizza. While chatting with Ray, we learned that they use veggies from local Imwalle Gardens and import special flour for the pizzas from Italy. The flowers gracing our table were from bolted broccoli, picked from their small patio garden outside.

While we waited for the pizzas to be baked in the wood oven, Ray treated us to a sample of roasted asparagus wrapped with prosciutto. This may have been my favorite dish of the afternoon. Pretty sure the only way to eat asparagus is to roast it at a billion degrees and surround it with salty ham. My sausage pizza was good, but I loved the margherita that my husband had. The sauce was intensely tomato-y and sweet, and you can’t go wrong with buffalo mozzarella. To procrastinate on having to adventure back out in the rain, we decided to also order dessert: burrata with apple slices, honey and black pepper. Because if there is burrata on the menu, one must always order burrata!

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It was a fabulous lunch, and I’m excited to know of another great place to eat in Santa Rosa."

CiboRustico.com

Amber Lucas, La Rosa Tequileria & Grille

Now back to Amber and her big day adventure taking in all the flavors of Sonoma County Restaurant week.

My next top was the La Rosa Tequileria & Grille. I had their $15 lunch menu, selecting the kale-citrus salad, black bean burger, and Mexican chocolate mousse for dessert. I have a thing for kale; I love to eat it while dining out, however, I cannot seem to master preparing it at home. I was excited to see vegetarian menu items (which can be a challenge to find during Restaurant Week), and couldn’t wait to dig in.

bar_3The kale and citrus salad was unexpected: I haven’t seen kale, grapefruit, red onions, and candied walnuts paired together before. The earthiness of the kale paired with the sharp sweetness of the grapefruit and oranges was interesting with the candied walnuts. The spicy black bean burger came topped with avocado, lettuce, garlic sauce, and cheese. Bean burgers can be a challenge, as they often can be dry. However my burger was dense and moist, and absolutely delicious. I was delighted to have such a hearty vegetarian option, and was beginning to wonder if I was going to have room for dessert.

mousse_0Thankfully, there is always room for dessert. The Mexican chocolate mousse was an absolute delight. Rich and creamy, without being too thick. The spiciness of the cinnamon was at the perfect balance, making this an instant favorite of mine. I could see myself returning just for this, when a strong craving for chocolate hits (which is often).

LaRosaSantaRosa.com


Romancing the Farmer Side of Wine Country

The Agrarian Lovers Ball -- not your grandparent's barn dance.

By Guest Blogger Evan Wiig

Between rolling hill after rolling hill of sprawling grapevines there simmers in Sonoma County an insurgence of agrarian romance, thanks to the Farmer's Guild. Nodding to yesterday’s traditions but also beckoning a future that’s within reach, these green-thumbed guerrillas and carbon cowboys gather to speak not only of tractors and the price of alfalfa, but of using soil to reverse climate change and collaborating towards a system of true food justice. And on behalf of visitors to Santa Rosa and its surroundings, this same community is working hard to assure that you’ll have something to eat alongside that glass of Chardonnay.

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Each February, brought together by The Farmers Guild, aspiring ranchers, well-seasoned farmers, local food advocates and more all converge in Sonoma County. Attracting crowds from across the state, their annual “Farmers Guild-Raising” concludes with an open invitation to the general public: come stomp some boots, share the bounty, and show your love for a new generation of sustainable agriculture: the Agrarian Lovers Ball.

IMG_6806Three years running, this month, on February 20, the ball takes place at the pavilion of Shone Farm, the gorgeous outdoor educational facility of Santa Rosa Junior College. A homegrown meal, local beer and wine, plus swingin’ live music to keep the crowds moving, this amorous celebration welcomes lovers of the soil, food-centric families, farm-bound couples ready to rekindle a post-season romance and yes, plenty of single young ranch-hands looking for love.

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This isn’t your wine-country Pinot Noir tasting stuffiness that some associate with Sonoma County, but a down-to-earth, DIY, dirt-under-your-fingernails kind of crowd. And while you’ll certainly find epicureans among them, the collective vision forged at The Farmers Guild and the upcoming Agrarian Lovers Ball is one in which good, honest food is a basic human right, one that is threatened each day by global warming, monopolization and the simple yet dangerous fact that America’s farmers are aging faster than we young clod-hoppers can fill their boots. So to preserve that right, that legacy and that basic human necessity, we must work hard, fight for food system reform… and, yes, make some love while we’re at it. Come celebrate with us!

For more information, visit www.farmersguild.org

evan wiig headshotEvan Wiig is the Director of the Farmers Guild, a statewide organization promoting the next generation of sustainable agriculture headquartered in Sonoma County.