- Local Garden Lettuces - Red Wine Vinagrette, Fresh Goat Chevre, Shaved Carrots with 2007 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc - Russian River Valley, CA
- Jumbo Lump Crabcake - Apple, Mache, Remoulade with 2005 Gerhard, “Hattenheimer Hassel” Riesling Spätlese - Rheingau, Germany
- Pan Seared Scallops - Napa Cabbage, Forest Mushrooms, Smoked Bacon with 2007 Wandering Wallaby, “Reserve” Chardonnay - Margaret River, Australia
- Tenderloin of Prime Beef - Celery Root, Roasted Carrots, Cippolini Onions, Black Pepper with 2005 Terra Valentine Cabernet Sauvignon - Spring Mountain, CA
- Apple Bread Pudding - Apple Caramel Sauce, Sautéed Apples with 2003 Royal Tokaji, “Red Label” - 5 Puttanyos - Hungary
- Chocolate Cherry Tart - Peppermint Ice Cream, Cherry Sauce with NV Meyer Family, “Port” - CA
My date and I split everything, as we always do, so that we could try as many things as possible. Favorites of the evening were the Crab cakes and the Scallops (always a seafood lover). The thing I liked about these the most were the wine pairings. The Riesling was a lovely surprise to compliment the crab, offering a citrus and wet stone nose complimented by a crisp, dry, light fruit and high acidity palate. Perfect for the slightly sweet crab! The scallops were delightful with the Chardonnay, and although I am rarely a fan of Chardonnay, this Australian choice complimented well with just a hint of oak that avoided overpowering the bright fruit characteristics of the wine. The subtle melon flavors and creamy mouthfeel made it the perfect match with the mushrooms and bacon.
This place is a fabulous addition to the Folsom wine scene, and well worth the trek all the way from downtown Sacramento. Just be careful about driving home!
As wonderful as all of these official events are, the part of this event that really impresses me is the part that takes place outside of the convention center. Beginning Monday evening, industry friends begin arriving at the adjoining hotels, and immediately head to the lobby bar to start mingling. Each night it gets more crowded with a more diverse mixture of people, all passionate about the same things, and eager to exchange business cards and a laugh. During the week there are also several industry hosted parties at various surrounding restaurants. A favorite of mine includes the Bottle Bash hosted by Wine Business Monthly at Pyramid Brewery. The place fills with people all wanting to share their latest wine and great free food. Other parties that take place later in the evenings, including the notorious Scheid party held at The Park Ultra Lounge, are still full of enthusiastic individuals that manage to make business connections even over a gin and tonic and Britney Spears in the background.
From the moment I crossed J & 13th Street I could feel the buzz. Being from this city and having walked that area many times, I can tell you it never feels as alive and exciting as it does during the week of Unified. Everyone comes to Sacramento with the same idea in mind: to connect with people. Whether it's to hear the state of the industry, buy new products, connect with old friends, or make new networking connections, everyone is about having a good time and commingling over their mutual passion (because everyone in this industry knows it had better be a passion since we don't get into it for the money!) that is wine.
I learned quite a lot this week, and not just about Grenache from the amazing session led by Dr. Patterson of Cal Poly State University, or about the latest web platform from VIN65 that will enhance a winery's website beyond its wildest dreams; I also learned about people and the power of a handshake and your word. No matter how large this industry gets, it will always be a small world for those of us within it, therefore integrity means a lot in this business. It is a business or which I am proud to be a part.
I am glad I was able to share the great times with everyone this week, and I look forward to seeing all of you again next year!