So, back in 2008, we had the opportunity to visit Napa Valley and Sonoma. Yeah, that’s a LOT of territory to cover in a few days, but we forged ahead regardless of the mileage. Anyway, we stayed at a Best Western in Healdsburg, California for our first leg of the trip and learned that there were several wineries within walking distance of the hotel! Imagine that . . . walk to some of the best wines in the country – enjoy them without having to drive ‘home’.
Tonight we spent the evening at Central Market in North Austin. We’ve been there before for a cooking school when Chef Brian from Hahn Winery was in town. Cooking school is kind of a misnomer in this case because the cooking has already been done, and the school is on paper! In other words, you’ve got the recipes but here’s what the recipes taste like. For most folks, going to the cooking school is about the food – for us, it’s about the wine! So, for example, when Chef Brian was in town from Hahn, we knew the food would be good, BUT we knew the WINE would be fantastic. And, from start to finish, it was all that and more! Going to Central Market on a Wednesday night . . . hmmm, not a lot of fun when you’re traveling from San Marcos north to Austin; however, being the foodies and wine-lovers that we are it was ‘onward through the fog’ or simply put, we’re dealing with traffic!
Pete Seghesio is the grandson of the founder of Seghesio Vineyards . . . great stories tonight about how the business got started way back in 1895. Who would have thought that in the early part of the 20th Century, 90% of Napa and Sonoma was planted with Zinfandel grapes! Who would have known that in the early years of the Seghesio history, Italian Swiss Colony was the primary producer of wines from the grapes grown on their land. Who would have known that Seghesio is to Zinfandel what Opus is to Cabernet Sauvignon? Yeah – we’re talking about family ties, lineage and generations of family . . . something that the Seghesio’s are still involved in – family wine making! The stories that Pete shared about his Mom and his grandfather; his cousin, the wine maker, another up-and-coming family member . . . even his own sons ages 10 and 13, it’s the stuff that American business legends are made of!
Pete’s family recipes were the basis of the food tonight and of course, Seghesio Family wines were the heart of the dinner. However, Chef Christina from Central Market and Chef Vance were the stars of this evening’s cooking school. We first met Christina during Chef Brian’s visit back in January – this lady can flat out cook! AND, she knows how to bring the recipe down for those of us who need step by step instructions to make it happen! A former Four Seasons Chef, Christina totally gets the customer experience at Central Market and we are really appreciative of her talents and customer service skills!! Jean had a meeting that ran late tonight so she showed up towards the end of the dinner, and thanks to Cheryl from Steel Branding who hooked Jean up with the full dinner and all the wines thanks to Chef Vance. These folks bent over backwards tonight – on a night when they were clearly exhausted having back to back nightly events–but it didn’t stop them from putting their best foot forward. We even learned about becoming volunteers with the Cooking School – whoo hoo!!!
This is what wine blogging is all about! Yes, the wine is important, but the EXPERIENCE is what makes the wine even more enjoyable. Eric, who represents Seghesio wines here in Central Texas area was an awesome resource . . . and actually selected the menu for tonight’s dinner – yeah, this is what we mean by a total customer service experience. We already knew that the wines were going to be outstanding since we’d been to Seghesio before . . . OH, yeah, the hotel that we stayed at in Healdsburg was a Best Western and the winery that we walked to and from was . . . you guessed it, Seghesio!!
Tonight, one of the wines we samples was their 2011 Zinfandel. Don’t let the young age fool you . . . WOW, this is a Zin for Zin-lovers! At 25 brix, this wine has the chops to become one of the best! Harvested when the grapes were at their peak, the 2011 Zin is magnificent . . . “it’s spicy, lush black fruit flavors of Sonoma County. Big raspberry flavors are present, along with structure of the cooler Dry Creek Valley area.” At just under $25 a bottle, this wine rates consistently at 90+ points . . . previous vintages have gone as high as 94 points. The fact of the matter is, when it comes to Zins in Sonoma County, Seghesio is THE name! Our 2011 was superb with the food served tonight. . . and, it’s also a great ‘deck’ wine . . . perfect for enjoying by the fire or after a hard day’s work.
Central Market has a flair for bringing great wines together with great food. But, it’s the people at Central Market and their suppliers that make the whole package work! Having been to Seghesio back in 2008, we knew and loved their wines. Visiting with Pete Seghesio and hearing about his family tonight–brought us full circle. We hope you’ll give this wine a try . . . you won’t be disappointed.
Remember to enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and recycle whenever possible!