To true wine country lovers, you know classic wine country style. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with elegant home accoutrements, tabletop accessories, fine linens and the elegance of social stationery and I like to think I bring a unique flair to what the lifestyle embraces. It defines classic and timeless elegance in a relaxed atmosphere where gatherings with friends and family often occur around the wine country table…outdoors and with breathtaking artisan food experiences.
But here’s the thing…you can create this simple lifestyle and make a world of difference in the food experiences you’ll have right in your own backyard or at your wonderful family table.
I have now been in the Napa/Sonoma wine country for one year. It is rich in experiences and I have fully embraced the wines and the creators who make and present them to us, along with the foods and the lifestyle. I have defined what I believe the wine country lifestyle is…relaxed elegance, unpretentious wealth and unparalleled food experiences.
The area is known, not only for its vineyards and wineries, but its olive oils, truffles and its abundance of incredible artisan makers and foods. All will delight your senses with taste treats and amazing food pairings.
How I wish I could bring you along to wonderful Wine Club events at these gorgeous wineries. When you and I watch television shows, such as the Real Housewives shows, we are exposed to a lifestyle many only dream about. When you live in the Napa/Sonoma Wine Country, you’re living that life.
It seems we are at a different country club every single day because our Wine Clubs give their members 5-Star treatment.
I have several Wine Clubs I favor because of the estates I am able to hang out at. I will go in the afternoon and read, blog, play a game of backgammon or cards and visit with friends, after which time my husband will join us just in time for more wine and appetizers. It’s the country club lifestyle without paying the country club dues. Sweet.
My favorite Wine Club is Chateau St. Jean for more than a few reasons. First, it is very near our little Wine Country Cottage; the estate, itself, is stunning; they have an area for Club Members that is apart from the public areas; and, they treat their Members as if we were at the private club I mentioned, above. The Bocci Ball court adds to the level of entertainment for our friends and family, alike.
Living within a few miles of us in the opposite direction is the beautiful Greystone campus of The Culinary Institute of America in St Helena. I am a nut about gourmet cooking and entertaining these days and I find myself there at least a couple of times a month.
Being among some of the world’s top chefs-in-training, reviewing their ever-evolving herb gardens and meandering through their huge retail store has brought new awareness to me that garden-to-table eating is the gold standard of eating here.
As a result, I have learned the art of herb gardening and harvesting from our own back garden.
Called my “Pasta Garden” I had basil and tomatoes growing like they were going out of style last summer and I found I needed a larger garden this summer. I’ve become a connoisseur of all things pasta and pizza as such things always provide light fair to accompany wine. (yes, that’s homemade pasta, below).
The most fun I have had comes from having developed an intense focus on Wine Country gourmet foods like foie gras, olives & olive oils, cheeses and, (Lord help me) chocolates infused with wines. I have immersed myself into putting together truly unique Wine Country boxes filled with these Sonoma and Napa county artisan food items for my friends around the world.
This has given me the opportunity to incorporate bespoke accoutrements (such as personalized napkins), along with my homemade wine-infused candies, into these luscious gift boxes and I love creating them. This year for the holidays I made chardonnay-infused white chocolate fudge and included the recipe. The boxes were a HUGE hit.
I’m not a tremendous knowledge-base of wines. Like you probably are, I’ll take a glass but I couldn’t tell a $500 bottle from a $40 bottle and, frankly, some things are best left to the experts…the vintners and the sommeliers.
To me in my unsophisticated way, wine is wine, but the Wine Country Lifestyle…now that’s something I understand and take great pleasure in defining. Regardless of where you live, you can incorporate these finer things into your everyday living and find your life remarkably changed and much more relaxed.
To have a great Wine Country style, you need a table for 10 (the more, the merrier. I had two tables made), friends and neighbors, a couple of bottles of wine (I pour mine in Maiale Cieco jugs) and a kitchen where the food is made by all for everyone’s enjoyment.
I won’t bore you endlessly with my new life in the Wine Country, but I will share great experiences and some awesome recipes I’ve created.
My goal is to just have fun, blog about the stuff we love to talk about…and, occasionally, invite you into our world here so you can see how accessible the lifestyle is. It makes me feel just like a lady and like I’m home again.
From my heart to your, your friend,