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Travel to Safari West
Wine Country Safari - A Truly Unique Experience
If you are looking for that something special, that something different, that something incredible as you plan your next excursion to the wine country look no further than
Members of WineCountry.com's staff recently had the opportunity to tour the facility of Safari West and visit with the two baby girl cheetahs, the newest addition to the wildlife reserve. WineCountry.com was able to visit the creatures that live at Safari West and learn more about this extraordinary place and the incredible opportunities available to the public.
Visitors are invited to stay on the property with more than 300 exotic, endangered and extinct-in-the-wild African mammals and birds. As you hop on an authentic safari jeep and tour the 400-acre reserve you will return to the Tent Camp which is an African-style oasis offering authentic safari accommodations. The Tent Camp at Safari West is charming with amazing attention to detail and authenticity as the African safari tents are made of canvas exteriors and hardwood floors.
You can experience ultimate luxury in outdoor living. Each private tent is equipped with a sumptuous king-size bed or two double beds, custom built wood furniture and en-suite bathroom with shower. All tents are in close proximity to but separated from the exotic wildlife that inhabits the local hills and plains area.
Safari West can also serve as the perfect location for a corporate off-site meeting. The setting of the facility allows for effective team building exercises, efficient and inspiring meeting rooms and retreat lodging. Businesses can book groups and of various sizes and organize a corporate event unlikely to be forgotten.
Ramekins Cooking Class
Ramekins - Sonoma Valley Culinary School
On January 4, 2002 WineCountry.com participated in the Ramekins Culinary School course offering, Skill Session: Stocks, Soups and More! taught by Therese Clark Nugent. With a fully attended class, Nugent demonstrated four soups, Beaf Barley Vegetable Soup, Chicken Soup with Wide Ribbon Noodles, Hearty Italian Vegetable Soup and Bouillabiasse.
With a practical foundation, Nugent strives to relate to those who love to eat delicious food and enjoy preparing beautiful meals, as well as teach her students recipes that can be easily recreated at home. Nugent's teaching style is incredibly welcoming and honest-it is as if you're taking cooking tips from an old friend.
In the three-hour session the course covered the easiest way to peal garlic to the best ways to make and store your own soup stock. With Nugent's down-to-earth relaxed nature the class participants were eager to ask questions and learn Nugent's tricks of the trade. Nugent has been with Ramekins from the early days of the culinary school, but is also accompanied by Ramekins' staff of highly acclaimed chefs, famous restaurateurs, cookbook authors, and TV personalities, all of whom teach both demonstration and hands-on classes for all levels of home cooks.
What makes Ramekins truly unique is that aside from being a sophisticated culinary school, it is also a charming and lovely bed and breakfast. Ramekins invite guests to stay in one of their six beautifully decorated guestrooms as they spend their afternoons learning about pastries or fine tuning their knife skills. Each room is decorated with unique and original interiors, along with custom-made furniture and one-of-a-kind artwork.
Ramekins is an excellent addition to any wine country experience. As you travel throughout the valley tasting wine and experience the joy of pairing food and wine, you can take you experience to the next level and enjoy a weekend stay at Ramekins and learn how you can take wine country dining home with you.
Visit Ramekins at www.ramekins.com
Events For January
January 26 -- Crab & Wine Days Train
January 28 -- Crazy About Crab Cooking Demo
January 18 - 19 -- Steinbeck's Valley of the World Wine Festival
January 28 - February 3 -- AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am Golf Tournament
January 12 -- Rogues Gallery Champagne Reception
Every Saturday and Sunday morning -- Merryvale's Weekend
January 11 - 12 -- Solvang Blues Festival
Ongoing -- Backstage Tours at The Lobero Theatre
Each Thursday Evening -- Terry Riversong at Shadowbrook Restaurant
January 18 - February 3 -- Evita at the American Musical Theatre
January 19 - 20 -- Winter Wineland
January 4 - 25 -- Gilbert & Sullivan... a la Carte at Cinnabar Theater
Battle of the Appellations
These wines were paired with two delicious menu items prepared by Tastings Restaurant of Healdsburg, CA. The Meador Estate 2000 Dry Chenin Blanc "Old Vine" from Monterey was the perfect pairing to Tastings Spiced Ahi seared rare with wood-grilled porcini. The strong presence of mango, lime and papaya provided tropical characteristics and enhanced the flavors of the lemon spices in the Spiced Ahi dish. The various spices of thyme, rosemary and garlic in the vinaigrette and porcini shined through with the subtleties of the Chenin Blanc.
The Rodney Strong 1999 Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley was chosen hands down as the perfect pairing to Tastings' red wine marinated lamb chops with blue lake beans and pomegranate. As with both dishes the food prepared by Tastings was absolutely exceptional. Head chef, Derek McCarthy truly understands the art and science of mixing exotic flavors together to not only tease your palate, but surprise your taste buds with some of the most well blended and beautifully served meals. This 1999 Pinot Noir from Rodney Strong is a medium-bodied wine with hints of dark cherry and pepper which enhanced the spices of thyme and rosemary of the lamb; but the surprising fruitiness of orange and raspberry mixed incredibly well with the pomegranate seeds of the sauce.
Tastings Restaurant is one of Healdsburg's best kept secrets, which may not be so secret. The food is entertaining and the ambiance forces you to believe you have stepped out of the world of cement parking lots and into a private treat.
WineCountry.com highly suggests that you invite the delicious and food friendly wines of Meador Estate and Rodney Strong to your next dinner party, as well as placing Tastings Restaurant on your must see list during your next visit to the Wine Country.
Bistro Don Giovanni
WineCountry.com is your dinner date
This past weekend members of the editorial staff at WineCountry.com decided to check out the buzz and dine at Bistro Don Giovanni located on St. Helena Highway in Napa, CA. Upon entering you are met with a faux rustic and fun ambiance. On this particular dinner date the Napa Valley was experiencing winter rain making the warm and inviting restaurant exceptionally appealing.
The service was superior as with the wine list. With more than just local wines to choose from you are able to gain a sense of the wide variety of dishes prepared at the restaurant. With a menu that is primarily Italian with a splash of French here and there, the meals are prepared with every detail considered and a knowledgeable server is eager to offer suggestions and answer questions. The selections for this dining experience was a pork dish and the famous ravioli served with a lemon crème sauce-a restaurant specialty. The wine of the evening was a Luna 2000 Pinot Grigio that complimented the pork served with a light peppery tomato reduction and roasted potatoes, as well as the raviolis with the lemon crème sauce.
The dessert list featured an incredible bread pudding and a classically prepared tiramisu. With a never empty water glass, and an equally full wineglass, the service matched the exceptional food. Bistro Don Giovanni is a moderately upscale restaurant that serves delicious upscale food. With a comfortable and relaxed environment patrons are made to feel at ease and truly enjoy their company as well as their meal. The weekends seem to be steadily full, so a reservation is recommended. Bistro Don Giovanni has a warm, inviting and romantic familiarity that makes dining there feel as though you have never stepped far from home-- just far enough to feel pampered.
Bistro Don Giovanni is located at 4110 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA and reservations can be made by calling 1-707-224-3300.
Tasting Room Recommendation
Franciscan Oakville Estate - More than just great wine
This past weekend WineCountry.com had the pleasure of visiting the tasting room at Franciscan Oakville Estate. Franciscan Oakville Estate includes five other wineries throughout the WineCountry.com network, such as Quintessa, Simi, Estancia, Mount Veeder Winery and Veramonte. The tasting room provides fun ways for the visitor to become acquainted with the estates and learn about the rich winery history.
This particular visit to Franciscan Oakville Estate included an in-depth Riedel stemware seminar featuring various wines throughout the estates. The Riedel seminars take place every hour on the hour and take the visitor through a lesson of tasting using all parts of the tongue and understanding the palate. The seminar also highlights a comparison tasting of the wines in Riedel stemware versus the same wines in average stemware, allowing the visitor to not only experience the wine but to also gain a skill in effective and appropriate stemware-making the next dinner party that much more fun.
WineCountry.com also participated in a blending seminar where the participants of this session were given an intimate look at the Franciscan Oakville Estate and gained knowledge and an appreciation for the founder's dream and the winemaker's passion. The blending seminar used the Magnificat, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot as the lesson feature. The Magnificat is a red Meritage wine that has a delicious nose and rich blackberry and plum flavors, with shy hints of cinnamon and chocolate.
The participants of the seminar were asked not to taste the Magnificat until they had finished creating their specific blend using the same grape selections. This was an exceptional experience allowing the guest to feel the excitement of creating a special and unique wine blend as well as an insider look to the science of blending a delicious and palatable wine. Learning how to balance the various properties of each wine used in a blend and how the percentages of each could affect the tannin level of the wine or the placement of where the wine is tasted on the tongue was very informative and insightful.
Located in Rutherford, CA, Franciscan Oakville Estate has a beautiful newly remodeled facility as well as warm and knowledgeable personnel. The employees at Franciscan Oakville Estate are passionate about the wine and vision of winery. While visiting the estate it will be difficult not to catch the fire and passion of the staff, making your experience there all the more exceptional.
Franciscan Oakville Estate -- www.franciscan.com
Congratulations to Dr. Gerald Seebach of Lexington, Kentucky the lucky winner of the once in a lifetime Wine Country getaway! Dr. Seebach is the winner of a two night stay at the Napa Valley Marriott, dinner for two on the historic Napa Valley Wine Train and a private tasting at the exclusive Koves-Newlan Vineyards. We wish Dr. Seebach the very best on his next Wine Country excursion!
The next winner could be you!! Simply enter to win...
Set Your Wild Side Free and Experience the WineCountry Like Never Before!
Escape from the ordinary Avoid the predictable Expect the unexpected!
On March 11, 2002 you could be selected to win a weekend getaway and tour for two to the exotic Safari West. The tent camp adventure at Safari West is a deluxe safari camping experience at a premiere safari park. Located in California's lush Sonoma County, it is the only accommodation of its kind in North America. Situated on 400 acres of breathtaking hillside in the heart of California's Wine Country, Safari West is home to over 300 exotic, endangered and extinct-in-the-wild African mammals and birds. The Tent Camp at Safari West is an African-style oasis, offering authentic safari accommodations, cuisine and wildlife tours for a complete safari experience, all within the boundaries of a unique wildlife reserve.
As an added bonus, you will also win a $100 gift certificate for a luxury dinner to the fabulous John Ash & Co. Restaurant located nearby in Santa Rosa, CA. At John Ash & Co. you will experience the incredible creations of Executive Chef Jeffrey Madura and the award winning wine list including some of the best Sonoma and Napa have to offer!
***NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Must be at least 21 years old to enter. Only one entry per person permitted. Winner will be selected March 11, 2002 by random drawing. Winner will be notified by email. Employees of FreeRun Technologies are ineligible. Void where prohibited by law. Your visit to Safari West is by reservation only and dependent upon availability, excludes holidays and cannot be combined with any other promotion.
Visit Safari West at -- www.safariwest.com
Check out John Ash & Co. at -- www.vintnersinn.com/dining/
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Photography © courtesy of Nicholas Elias