I was very fortunate to be invited to Claiborne & Churchill Winery in Edna Valley, CA, for their 40th anniversary lunch in the vineyard! The invitation read as follows:
“We are excited to have you for our Déjeuner d’Anniversaire on Sunday, April 16. We’ll start with a sparkling wine reception and shared picnic board at 12pm and be seated for lunch about 12:30pm. Please be sure to wear closed toe shoes and dress warmly as the lunch will be held in our Estate Vineyard. We are looking forward to having you join us!”
Firstly , a little bit of history from the C&C website about the winery and owners:
“Claiborne & Churchill is a premium family-owned winery in the Edna Valley of San Luis Obispo, founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill Thompson. Former teachers at the University of Michigan, the couple left the “Groves of Academe” for the vineyards of California in 1981 in order to begin a new life in the wine industry.”
And quite a life and legacy they have enjoyed here in Edna Valley! Daughter Melissa was seated near us, proudly watching and listening as her parents shared their joy. The sun was shining and it was a perfect spring day…
Chef Shaun Behrens, chef and owner of Bear City Social (https://www.bearcitysocial.com) charmed our taste buds with farm to table food pairings designed for a stunning array of Claiborne wines.
The five course meal started with a picnic cheese board and new release Sparking Brut Cuvée, a champagne style dry sparkler. Crisp with tiny bubbles and balanced acidity, the two plus year creation process showed off it’s delicate flavors.
An elegant amuse-bouche of Croque Monseiur with flaky pastry dough was served with Estate Dry Riesling, vintages 2017 and 2021. The ‘17 was showing signs of softening and a slight petrol, and the ‘21 as a young, vibrant wine with light acidity.
A French Bistro Salad with strawberry, goat cheese, and lardons was paired with the New Cuvée Elizabeth Dry Rose of Pinot Noir 2022. Fruity, bright pink and quaffable, this wine needs to be on lots of spring and summer time tables. Super light and soft acidity with strawberries and peach on the tongue, a clean crisp mouthfeel and fresh finish.
Main entree was Coq Au Vin with lardons, mushroom, root vegetables and braised greens. Rich, buttery flavors of the meats and mushrooms, enhanced by fresh veggies, were paired with Runestone Pinot Noir 2018 and 2020. The ‘18 had time to age in bottle, soften around the edges, with long notes of cherry and light vanilla. The ‘20 vintage was young and bright, ripe red fruit and a bit more forward acidity. Both were delicious, but the ‘18 Runestone Pinot felt like a special treat.
Lastly, a more savory than sweet Pear Tart with Roquefort cheese, honey, and rosemary desert that was an absolutely stunning finish. The unexpected pairing with Estate Syrah 2016 was on point. Earthy rosemary and Roquefort cheese brought such intense and unexpected flavors out of the Syrah. Deep plum, blueberries, and just a bit of leathery tobacco rounded out into a lingering finish.
All in all, it was a lovely experience and I got the chance to meet some of our local foodie talent. Conny, owner of https://baguetteabout.it/ food truck and catering was at our end of the table (check out her site and locations, super fun), and was as refreshing as her menu! Thanks also go out to new friends Jack and Nobi, and my long time friends Jamie for always being a great cohort, and Lauren for the invitation and planning to take me for a birthday celebration to remember! Everything Happens For A Riesling, as the shirt says…and here’s to many more….