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Local Wineries and Chefs Are Teaming Up for Unique Dining Experiences

Pairing wide-open outdoor spaces with destination-worthy meals, it’s a win-win for both struggling industries.

Wineries and chefs are teaming up to create one of the biggest pandemic wins in Wine Country. Pairing wide-open outdoor spaces with destination-worthy meals, it’s a win-win for both struggling industries.

One of the newest entrants is Bricoleur Vineyards, which hired former Chalkboard and Brass Rabbit chef Shane McAnelly last spring. This infant winery has been under construction for nearly five years and on the cusp of opening fell victim to the on-again, off-again pandemic rules surrounding tastings and wineries.

Now the nearly 50-acre winery is up and running with several outdoor dining experiences, the best of which is the Summer Wine Classic series. At the event, which kicked off in early August, guests are seated near a pond under large arbors and served a satisfyingly complete four-course dinner that pairs Bricoleur wines with of-the-moment produce from their own farm and nearby purveyors.

2018 Alexander Valley Zinfancel at Bricoleur Vineyards. (Heather Irwin)
Elote agnilotti with roasted corn, charred shishito pepper, lime, cotija, cilantro at Bricoleur Vineyards’ Summer Classic Wine Dinner Series. (Heather Irwin)

McAnelly mans an impressively outfitted kitchen, serving up dishes like his “elote” agnolotti with roasted corn, charred shishito peppers, lime and cotija cheese with the winery’s 2018 Kick Ranch Viogner, a chill little scamp that doesn’t overwhelm with acidity and pairs well with a hint of heat in the peppers. Pasta is an obsession with McAnelly, and it shows in these plump little pockets of pasta filled with sweet corn puree that is easily one of the best dishes of the year.

This time of year there’s magic in heirloom tomatoes with anise-y basil and cucumber, fresh summer squash and berries foraged from nearby bushes. McAnelly plays with them all, piling layers of ripe flavors, like his coconut tres leches cake with roasted strawberries, blackberry, chantilly cream and Greek basil, or using carrot tops for an earthy salsa verde with grilled Snake River farms steak.

The menus change up throughout the rest of the series, with an ode to Julia Child on Aug. 15 and a pig-centric menu on Aug. 29. Tickets cost $150 per person.

If you’re looking for a more affordable, family-friendly experience, the winery hosts pizza nights with wine pairings for grownups and kid-friendly options for everyone else. $65 for adults, $35 for kids.

Also available are to-go picnics on the expansive property, which features a large pond with black swans, a heart-stoppingly beautiful rose garden, a farm and some of the fluffiest chickens you’ll ever see.

7394 Starr Rd, Windsor. Tickets available through facebook.com/bricoleurvineyards or at bricoleurvineyards.com

More winery-chef collaborations worth checking out

Single Thread in Healdsburg is bringing their carefully curated dining experience to the sprawling 60-acre Kistler Vineyards near Forestville. Guests will be served a 10-course menu with of-the-moment ingredients befitting a three-Michelin star restaurant. Offered through the end of September. Thursday through Monday evenings. $375 per person, reservations required, singlethreadfarms.com.

Big Bottom Market in Guerneville is delivering picnic lunches to several wineries, such as Bowman Cellars in Graton and Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, as well as AutoCamp in Guerneville. bigbottommarket.com/wine-country-lunch-order-form.

Flowers Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg has partnered with chef Tyler Florence for “Flowers & Florence To Go” a pickup-option for parties of 4 or 8 featuring Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay or Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir paired with Florence’s fried chicken and locally sourced sides. flowerswinery.com.

Jordan Winery in Healdsburg has created Paris on the Patio and other programs featuring picture-perfect meals from chef Todd Knoll.

Editor’s Note: Travel, dining and wine tasting can be complicated right now. Use our inspirational ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, be it this week or next year. If you visit restaurants, wineries, and other businesses during the pandemic, remember to call ahead, make reservations, wear a mask and social distance.

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