WINDSOR, CA — Surrounded by the picturesque backdrop of Windsor’s Sonoma-Cutrer Winery, more than 200 wine lovers gathered Friday. Diners met for an elegant evening of food, wine, and conversation at the annual Russian River Valley Paulée.
The exquisite event was modeled after the world’s largest BYO tradition from Burgundy, France. In a traditional “Paulée,” winemakers, collectors, and their guests each bring a special bottle of wine from their personal cellars to share with the table.
“The Russian River Valley Paulée brings together great winemakers with their wines, stories, and friends whose love of wine is every bit as rich,” said Rod Berglund. Berglund is a winemaker from Joseph Swan Vineyards in Forestville. “Whether it is the wine of legend or only of a special connection, the fact that they are shared with others makes them all special.”
The event, hosted by the Russian River Valley Winegrowers (RRVW), kicked off with a reception featuring pours from more than 30 area wineries. Guests then collected their bottles, took their seats and enjoyed an intimate, family-style dinner curated by the best in the culinary world.
The star-studded menu began with a round of passed hors d’oeuvres by Estate Chef Kevin Markey of Sonoma-Cutrer. Chef Steve Litke of Michelin-starred Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant prepared an exceptional salad featuring local heirloom greens, sun gold tomatoes, radish, and spiced bacon tossed in a buttermilk blue cheese dressing.
Epicurean main courses included a slow cooked pork shoulder and delightful Oaxacan green polenta by Chef Ben Davies of Russian River Vineyards. His plate was followed by a mouthwatering Zinfandel-braised boneless short ribs dish by Chef Tom Schmidt of John Ash & Co.
The few who had room for more enjoyed a decadent chocolate cake by patisserie extraordinaire and local favorite, Costeaux French Bakery.
“The Russian River Valley Paulée is an evening spent under the stars, bonding over world-class wines while enjoying the cuisine of celebrated local chefs,” said RRVW Board President Giovanni Balistreri. “The connections, camaraderie, and friendships at this event are every bit as special as the rare and limited wines we will share.”
As the starlit evening drew to a close, guests collected and traded their favorite bottles, leaving with full stomachs, new friendships, and memories to last a lifetime.