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Picnic and Pinot at Dutton-Goldfield Winery

Picnic & Pinot flight with the open-faced smoked salmon sandwich: chive cream cheese toast, cucumber, tomato & red onion.
Picnic & Pinot flight with the open-faced smoked salmon sandwich: chive cream cheese toast, cucumber, tomato & red onion.
Melissa Vogt

Looking for something more than just your average wine tasting experience? Dutton-Goldfield Winery's Picnic & Pinot is sure to satisfy. This one of a kind experience features exclusive Dutton-Goldfield single vineyard Pinot Noir, paired with delicious gourmet sandwiches and delectable side dishes. The picnic portion of the experience is prepared by local chefs—Matthew Greenbaum and Mike Thibault—from Willow Wood Market & Café in Graton.

Dutton-Goldfield Winery
Melissa Vogt

This unique wine tasting and lunch experience allows guests to explore the complexity of four Dutton-Goldfield single vineyard Pinot Noirs, and the way they interact with the delicious, locally-prepared sandwiches. Additionally, the tasting room associates provide guests with sensory jars to help pinpoint the aromas and flavors of the wines.

Guests choose their sandwich at the time of making the appointment and during the Picnic & Pinot experience, start off by enjoying the wines without food. While tasting the four single vineyard Pinot Noirs side-by-side, sandwiches are prepared behind the scenes. Once guests have finished tasting the wines, each wine is poured again to revisit with the sandwiches—making the comparison between the wines on their own and when paired with the sandwich a delightful and educational experience. Not only do guests get to enjoy fabulous single vineyard Pinot Noir, but they also get to learn about aroma, flavor, and food and wine pairing during their visit at Dutton-Goldfield Winery.

The four single vineyard Pinot Noirs that are currently offered with the Picnic & Pinot experience are the 2011 Freestone Hill Vineyard, the 2012 Angel Camp Vineyard, the 2012 Emerald Ridge Vineyard, and the 2012 Azaya Ranch Vineyard. Each of these Pinot Noirs has somewhat similar flavors as a result of consistency in winemaking, with 13.5% alcohol and roughly 50% New French Oak for each wine; however, they each simultaneously exhibit very unique aromas and flavors unto themselves. This speaks heavily to the terroir of each of the vineyards.

The Freestone Hill Vineyard is located in the "extreme southwest corner of the Russian River Valley appellation and on the coastal side of the Petaluma wind gap" (Dutton-Goldfield). The cool climate and wind helps to produce small, tight clusters which yield very concentrated fruit. As a result, the flavors of the 2011 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir are pleasantly intense and balanced. The wine is bright red in color with black cherry and thyme on the nose. On the palate, this wine exhibits seriously bright fruit, such as red cherry, dried cherry, and dried cranberry. On the finish, the bright fruit gives way to the subtle toffee taste. Though the wine is light in body, the texture is full—making the structure of the wine solid and well-balanced.

When sipped with one of the Picnic & Pinot sandwich options—the open faced smoked salmon on toast with chive cream cheese, cucumber, tomato, and red onion—the very subtle oak in the wine begins to come forward on the palate from the smokiness. Texturally, the smooth cream cheese enhances the body of the wine by giving it fullness and weight in the mouth. While the 2011 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir is absolutely drinkable on its own, there's no denying its compatibility with the smoked salmon sandwich.

The Angel Camp Vineyard is located in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County "on a scenic knoll above the Navarro River and overlooking the valley" (Dutton-Goldfield). The location is cool and the slope is gravelly, making the wine a "classic Anderson Valley Pinot: deep, plumy fruit, fresh acidity, and a voluptuousness that comes with well-ripened fruit" (Dutton-Goldfield). Classic Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is right! The 2012 Angel Camp Vineyard Pinot Noir boasts aromas of cranberry with flavors of plum, blackberry, and dark cherry. These deep fruit notes on the forefront of the palate are followed by toffee on the mid palate and tart, baked fruit on the finish. There is also a subtle hint of orange zest behind the other abundant fruit flavors. These wonderful notes are balanced and full, and pair nicely with the smoked salmon sandwich.

Again, the cream cheese works to enhance the texture of the wine, giving it an even more voluptuous mouth feel than on its own. The mouth feel then contributes to the meatiness of the salmon, making the textures really fill out the inside your mouth. Flavor wise, the chives in the cream cheese brighten the fruit by adding a little spice in the background; this is a pleasant taste among the fruitiness.

The Emerald Ridge Vineyard is located in Green Valley of the Russian River Valley "on an east facing knoll" with "perfectly drained Gold Ridge sandy loam soil" (Dutton-Goldfield). This terroir allows for a "core of berry fruit, solid structure and acidity, [and] silky tannins" (Dutton-Goldfield). The core of berry fruit shines in the beautiful, bright ruby color of the 2012 Emerald Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir, which exhibits intoxicating aromas of dark raspberry and blackberry. The flavors of this seductive wine are brighter in the beginning and darker on the finish. On the front of the palate, the raspberry notes mingle with subtle baking spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.

These spice notes interact well with the chives in the cream cheese and the smoked salmon. As for the fruit in the wine, it becomes slightly brighter when tasted with the food. The cucumbers on the sandwich contribute to the silky tannins and solid structure—giving this wine and food interaction very balanced spice, fruit, and texture.

The Azaya Ranch Vineyard is located on "ideal south and west facing hills in Hicks Valley" of Marin County, with a "well-drained slope" (Dutton-Goldfield). The cool climate, much like the other vineyards, contributes to the tiny, intense berries which make such beautiful wine. The deep purple color of the 2012 Azaya Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir is much darker than the other three red hue Pinot Noirs in this tasting. On the nose, the wine exudes the herbal note of thyme and baking spice of clove. The deep purple color matches the dark plum and blackberry flavors on the front and mid palate, while the wine finishes brighter and more tart-like.

The lingering spice note of nutmeg in the 2012 Azaya Ranch Vineyards Pinot Noir is nuanced by the smokiness of the salmon and herbaceousness of the chives. Additionally, the cucumber gives fullness to the body and texture, while the weight of the salmon accentuates the silky mouth feel and roundness of the wine. Combined, the wine and the sandwich complement each other perfectly.

Overall, it is clear that the Picnic & Pinot experience is meant to please the taste buds in more ways than one: the beauty and ripeness of the fruit in the wine shines through, the textures between the food and wine dance together on the palate, and the spices in the food and the wine collaborate gently on the tongue. Go ahead, enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting and lunch with the Picnic & Pinot experience at Dutton-Goldfield Winery, and you might just learn a thing or two about what makes Pinot Noir so powerful and yet so perfectly suited for pairing with food.