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Vintner's Dinner at Fog Crest Winery, Sebastopol, Sonoma County


Vintner's Dinner at Fog Crest Winery

By Jim Kelly

For some time, I’ve wanted to visit Fog Crest Winery and see their new tasting room so, on a picturesque summer evening last month, I attended their wine club’s vintner’s dinner to celebrate Bastille Day. It was an intimate gathering on the patio of their tasting room overlooking Laguna de Santa Rosa. On the way in, I was handed a generous pouring of their recently released rosé, the first complete vintage to be created by their relatively new French wine maker, Jérôme Chéry. Monsieur Chéry is a highly-pedigreed oenologist from the Central region of France. 

Fog Crest WineryTo be truthful, I haven’t had much rosé since the days of Lancers but I was polite and took the glass. After I took a drink, I knew it was not your average rosé, past or present. This was a new nectar, crafted so eloquently it removed any suggestion of the tasteless thorns of rosé I have mostly avoided throughout the years. I strongly recommend Fog Crest should name this wine, Jérôme Rosé.

After meeting owners, Jim and Rosalind, I was happy to see they reserved for me a seat at their table.

Vintners’ dinners always remind of my first one a few years back at Nick’s Cove. I called up a friend who was a wine judge and asked him to have a drink at Underwood so I could get some tips. 

Frank arrived at the appointed time and the first thing I asked him was what all the hand waiving and glass swirling and nose diving into wine was about. 

He didn't disappoint but I kinda wish he would have after I head what he said. "You drink wine for enjoyment, Jim. It’s harder than that. You should take your time, swirl the wine first and take a deep whiff of the bouquet."

"Is that why I see so many people with their noses buried in the glass? I thought it was some sorta bubble game."

"But that's not all, Jim." he said ignoring my remark. "You need to take a good-sized sip and swish it around in the front of your mouth."

"How long should I do that?" I asked while wishing I had someone to hand the conversation off to.

"Not long enough to stain your teeth. After you swish it around, you chomp on the wine a few times and swallow it." Then he went on to tell me how the fumes somehow go through the eyeballs and into the inner ear where they collide with the taste of the wine. Or something like that.

I was on new ground. I thought I could pull it off if I didn't think about the eyeball part and sure enough, I did. Glass after glass was placed in front of me with a mystery dish for each one. I found out later the chef was there explaining what the food was but I was so busy swooshing and biting and chomping I don't hear much else.

The food at my first Vintner’s dinner was plentiful and good but if you asked me today what we ate, I'd have to plead guilty to not knowing.

I do remember the wine was tastier than drinking it my normal way but most Sonoma wine is excellent so any difference may have been in my mind.

I got home late and went right to bed. Soon, as you might guess, I started dreaming about that darn vapor going through my eyeballs.

I'm thankful Frank taught me a new way to drink wine but I’m going back to my old method, tossing my head back and gulping. My bathroom mirror convinced me to .when I tried swishing and biting and chomping my mouthwash the next morning. 

As for Fog Crest, lovely dinner, great company and a truly magnificent summer evening. I had duck (my favorite) and bought a bottle of their excellent Jérôme Rosé. I like it because it has a hint of Chéry.

Fog Crest Winery
7606 Occidental Rd. Sebastopol, CA 95472
707-829-2006 or 800-931-2906