Although the Quest for Pairing Excellence is the kick-off event for Taste Our Terroir, it is by no means the only highlight. The rest of the extended weekend is chock-full of educational and entertaining events. One highlight capping off the weekend was the brunch at Retzlaff Vineyards. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning!
The morning was bright and sunny, with just a hint of breeze to keep the slowly climbing temperatures at bay. We arrived at the winery to discover a long picnic table, set with a cheery tablecloth and, yes, wineglasses. We mingled with the gathering attendees, sipping on coffee and orange juice, all excited by what we were about to experience.
Before long, all of the attendees had arrived. We were then welcomed by Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association Executive Director Chris Chandler. She welcomed us and thanked us all for helping to make their Taste Our Terroir weekend so successful (nearly every event sold out). She also introduced Heather McGrail, of McGrail Vineyards and a new Vice President of the LVWA.
We next heard from Salome Taylor of Retzlaff Vineyards and Matt Greco, chef/owner of Salt Craft restaurant. Salome gave us a brief introduction to the family-owned winery and Matt told us about his upcoming new restaurant in Pleasanton and described the meal we were about to enjoy. We were clearly in for an amazing morning and it was time to get started!
The food looked and smelled delicious. Matt’s “Farm to table” approach to cooking is so central to everything he does that part of his pre-printed menu required amendment. He had planned to use kale in his sausage, but the local farmers had Swiss chard that looked better. That meant that his sausage had Swiss chard instead! Better to rewrite the menu than to settle for second best in ingredients.
Here is the brunch menu:
- Peach & White Corn French Toast
- Baked Eggs & Summer Corn Polenta
- Grilled Chicken & Swiss Chard Sausage
- Olivina Olive Oil Poached Tuna with Nicoise Garnish
- Lamb Pastrami with Pickled Onions, Coriander & Secret Sauce
- Tomato & Burrata with Summer Herbs
So much to taste, so much to love! The French toast had wonderful, surprising bits of peach scattered through the bread which was extra succulent because of the Brentwood white corn. The sausage patties were hot off the BBQ, with enough flavor to make a vegetarian reconsider their life choices. Matt made the baked eggs with polenta to order, so that each cassoulet was served piping hot. The baked eggs were wonderful, but the star of the dish was the polenta. This polenta was a lifetime best, truly memorable!
As we were settling in with our plates heaped with food, Salome joined us, along with her husband Aaron Taylor and father-in-law Bob Taylor. It was our good fortune to be seated alongside the Taylors. That meant that we had an incredible opportunity to hear about the history of Retzlaff Vineyards and the Livermore wine industry directly from the people who made it happen.
Bob told us that when he bought the property in the 1970’s he had no intention of growing grapes or making wine. Then one day the Wente family approached him about planting some Grey Riesling grapevines on his land. Decades later, the Grey Riesling is gone (except for one vine that covers one entire side of the tasting room barn), but wine making continues as the passion of the entire Taylor family.
We ate, we talked, we learned about the Taylor family and their winery. We sipped on a variety of wonderful Retzlaff wines. A wonderful time was had by all. Too soon sadly, the morning had become the afternoon and it was time to go. We were invited to stay and listen to some live music by Matt Finders and Friends, but we had places to be and things to do. We expressed our gratitude to each of the Taylors and Matt Greco and set off.
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?