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Walnut Creek Magazine

Valentine’s Day Dining and Wine-ing: Local Vintners Share Their Plans

Jan 22, 2019 01:26PM ● By Fran Miller

Jason and Kisha Itkin, Owners/Vintners, Theorem Vineyards, Napa Valley


How will you court your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? Will it be flowers, chocolates, or perhaps a cozy dinner for two? Need a little inspiration to formulate your plan? We’ve got you covered with these menu and wine ideas gathered from some of our favorite local vintners and winemakers who know a thing or two about the romanticism of a perfect pairing. There is nothing proprietary about their plans; their dining and wine-ing expertise is meant to be mimicked. So go forth, and woo.

Genevieve Janssens

Genevieve Janssens, Chief Winemaker,
Mondavi Winery, Napa Valley

My husband Luc and I will begin our Valentine’s Day dinner with raw oysters paired with Pol Roger champagne. I am the one to open the oysters with a special wooden tool and a great oyster knife. While I’m opening the oysters, Luc will prepare Shrimp Scampi with Pasta. The buttery sauce is delicious – shallots, garlic, dry white wine, lemon juice, butter and extra virgin olive oil, fresh chopped parsley leaves – tossed with linguine pasta. The dish pairs beautifully with our delicious Robert Mondavi Winery Oakville Fume Blanc. For dessert, I’ll poach pears with vanilla, star anise, sugar (not too much) and lemon zest. Served with our Moscato d’Oro, it’s a perfect match! So, our meal will be paired with 100% white wine for St. Valentine’s Day. How about that??

Kisha and Jason Itkin, Owners/Vintners, Theorem Vineyards, Napa Valley

On Valentine’s Day, we are looking forward to dining at Las Alcobas’ Acacia House. They were the first restaurant to carry our Theorem Vineyards Voir Dire ‪Diamond Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and they are one of our favorite places to dine in the Napa Valley.  After dinner, it’s back home where we’ll light a fire and enjoy a little wine. We might open something from our property or enjoy something from one of our neighbors like Constant, Lokoya, Diamond Creek or Fantesca. It all depends on the mood.

Paul Scotto

Paul Scotto, Winemaker, J McClelland Cellars, Napa Valley

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays! My wife Whitney and I like to hunker down in our Concord home and collaborate on a romantic meal together -- pairing some of my favorite wines to some of her favorite dishes. Not surprisingly, given our family heritage, the meal is usually inspired by the flavors of Italy. We'll kick it off with our Scotto Family Brut Rosé paired with Whitney's exquisite shrimp scampi. Next, we'll enjoy a traditional family dish: linguini with a lightly spiced, fresh tomato and garlic crab ragu teamed with our 2015 J. McClelland Napa Merlot.  We'll finish the meal with a classic Tiramisu...and ‘tanti baci’ (many kisses) of course! 

Nate and Lauren Belden

Lauren and Nate Belden, Proprietors, Belden Barns Winery, Santa Rosa

This year, we’re excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day a little differently by hosting a 'Bottle Your Love' wine-blending workshop at 18 Reasons Cooking School in San Francisco.  It’s going to be a fun chance for couples to celebrate their own special alchemy as they custom-blend a bottle of wine to their specific tastes using delicious Belden Barns wine components!  Of course there will be plenty of our ‪Sonoma Mountain estate wines on hand for sipping along the way as well.  When the event is over, we’ll head home for our own private celebration.  For such romantic evenings, we like to pull out a wine we’ve discovered on our travels together.  We’ve been eyeing a bottle of Colomé Malbec from their winery in Northern Argentina that would pair beautifully with our favorite sea-salt, olive oil and dark chocolate bar. The trek to get to Colomé is epic, and every time we've broken open a bottle since that visit to Argentina 8 years ago, it seems to have a magically romantic effect.

Christi Coors Ficeli and Family

Christi Coors Ficeli, Vintner, Goosecross Cellars, Napa Valley

My husband Dave and I like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our kids. We cherish them as much as we adore each other so why not spend the ‘official’ day of love as a family? In keeping with the Napa Valley’s relaxed vibe, we like to keep things casual by going out for Mexican food. The children and I usually get chicken enchiladas, while Dave is big on the Chile Verde. We’ll pair these tasty dishes with aguas frescos or sodas for the kids and our classic Goosecross Cabernet Franc or Goosecross Branta (a juicy red blend of Cab, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Sangiovese) for the grownups! Red wine is a surprisingly delicious match for Mexican food if it’s not too spicy, and the perfect choice for celebrating Valentine’s Day together! 

Jeff Pisoni

Jeff Pisoni, Winemaker, Fort Ross Vineyard, Jenner                            

In our household it’s always rosé season, and our 2018 is bottled and tasting great—so as my wife Bibiana and I cook our Valentine’s Day dinner together, the 2018 Fort Ross Vineyard rosé will be flowing. And since it’s been cold and rainy, it’s great weather to fire-up our wood oven (which keeps us warm, too!) For that we’ll pick up some thick rib eye steaks to cook over the coals. As the food is being prepared, we’ll have a 2014 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir decanting and waiting for us on the table. The couple of years of bottle age will make for excellent pairing right now.

Tamra Lotz

Tamra Lotz, Winemaker, Mumm Napa, Napa Valley 

With Dungeness season still in full-force, we’ll be enjoying a crab feed for two paired with our Mumm Napa 2012 DVX Rose. The elegance of the fruit and the creaminess in the wine will pair well with the crab’s delicate sweetness. Perhaps we’ll even light a fire. Cheers!


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