Any time someone celebrates twenty five years, it's cause for a big party. Rodney Strong came to Sonoma in 1959 to pursue a lifelong passion in wine. He was the first to release a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander's Crown), the first to produce a Chalk Hill appellation Chardonnay and one of the first pioneers to plant Pinot Noir in Russian River.
In 1989 Tom Klein purchased Rodney Strong Vineyards with his family. Tom Klein saw potential to build on Rodney Strong's earlier efforts to make Sonoma a world-class growing region.
Twenty five years later, the Klein family celebrated with a 4-city coordinated dinner featuring James Beard Foundation's Celebrity Chef Tour. Attendees in Texas, Florida, New York and at the winery in Healdsburg were treated to multiple courses of wine and food pairings from some of America's top chefs while chatting with other cities via live stream.
In Sonoma, chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu Kitchen in Sebastopol, David Varley of RN74 in Seattle, Adam Sobel of RN74 in San Francisco, Bruce Bromberg of Blue Ribbon in NYC and Mary Dumont of Harvest in Cambridge prepared delicious creations to honor the Klein family's twenty five years of ownership.
FIRST COURSE - Adam Sobel, RN74 San Francisco
Chef Sobel treated everyone to Lapsang Souchong Cured Kona Kampachi with Green Apple Beignet and Leek Vinaigrette paired with 2012 Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay. And just for good measure, he followed it up with Croque Madam Gougeres aka delicious savory little bites of heaven.
SECOND COURSE - David Varley, RN74 Seattle
Chef Varley created perhaps one of the best dishes I've ever had with Pinot Noir. Roast duck is a natural pairing, but he brought out some next level shit with his preparation. First, the duck was rendered down to remove some of the fattiness leaving succulent, perfectly cooked juicy Liberty Farms duck breast with crispy skin. He then smoked the beets and added Matsutake mushroom, Juniper berries, Huckleberries and a savory miso-inspired sauce.
MAIN COURSE - Bruce Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Restaurant in NYC and Las Vegas
Just say this out loud to yourself: Braised beef cheeks with Big Island hearts of palm, grilled red onion marmalade and fried spinach. Anytime the words, "braised" and "beef" are in the description I'm all in. Rodney Strong Symmetry and Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon came along for the ride.
Chief winemaker (and walking Sonoma encyclopedia), Rick Sayre joined us at our table. Rick's been with Rodney Strong since the beginning and helped the winery pioneer new ways of doing things in Sonoma.
Sometimes we take for granted how far the industry has come over the past 55 years since the winery's inception.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate the efforts of Rodney Strong, Rick Sayre and the Klein family than on a night like this. The next 25 years are officially underway, and it'll be fun to watch what the winery does next. Thank you for a great evening!