It’s early 1987.  Our old tasting room is only reachable from Rancho California Road via 2 -1/2 miles of dirt road.  I’ve peppered the countryside with unpermitted signs encouraging people to have patience and keep driving till they find us.

We’re only open weekends; Phil covers the bar one day and I cover it the other.  We get maybe a half dozen or so people each day.  Our second wine, the 1986 Sauvignon Blanc is ready to be released.  What to do to get people here?  Why not free food?

So, with Phil as my assistant taster, I set about creating a simple dish that would go well with the Sauvignon Blanc and show it in its best light…

Grapes Sauv Blanc 05 Berenda

Sauvignon Blanc ~ Berenda Road Vineyard

I started out with a plate of pasta, a mild cheese sauce, a few vegetables and a few herbs, and a bottle of the wine.  Then we tasted the pasta/cheese sauce with various combinations of vegetables and herbs, followed by sips of the wine.

Here’s a couple of things that didn’t go:

Sautéed onions – they were too sweet for the wine.

Carrots, also too sweet.

Cilantro – an herb we usually like a lot just didn’t help the wine.

And here are a few things that did go well:

Asparagus – Sauvignon Blanc is often characterized by herbaceous flavors of bell peppers, grean beans and even subtle asparagus.  While this wine wasn’t overly herbaceous, the asparagus definitely went with it. Bell pepper – a good match for the same reasons as the asparagus. Rosemary –  much better flavor match than the cilantro, thyme, and zucchini.

So I put together a nice cheese pasta dish with asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini, rosemary and thyme, sent out the word about the free wine and food, and voila! – a busy weekend with lots of people, one of whom was Barbara Hansen, a food reporter for the LA Times!

An article entitled “Food Draws Folks to Family Winery” appeared in the Times not long afterward.  And on the front page of the Food section, complete with pictures and recipe.  We were on the map!

Stay tuned, because in November we are going to do it again to celebrate our 30th anniversary and the completion of our 31st harvest!  Maybe even the LA Times will come.