Moments of Bliss at Oak Farm Vineyards
Heartbeats race with excitement
And crawl into a momentary pause
Upon the sight of things
It happens here.
160817 . Sacramento
Here, empty glasses1 are transformed into fountains of light, happiness, and love. It’s a testament to an age-old belief that emptiness could lead to bounty if one is open to the grace that showers from the heavens. We start with the grace of Albariño – it flows and promises that we will thirst no more. It will accompany us and assure that our walk through dusty roads and vineyards; concrete and green grass; oak trees and gardens; a pond and an ancient cemetery; will be blessed with a refreshing Spanish varietal, made even more special by the Lodi soil and sun. There is also a promise and reality that an estate tour will culminate under the shaded structures of rustic exterior with world-class elegance contained within. We have gone with the wind at Oak Farm Vineyards; and we have gone with the wine within.
At the Wine Bloggers Conference 2016 Opening Reception, which happened the night before our excursion to Oak Farm Vineyards, I selected “Gone with the Wine” as the mysterious direction for my Friday night Wine Bloggers Excursion. I had no idea where the poetic phrase2 would take me3, but I aspired for something legendary. My aspiration turned into reality when I saw Dan Panella4, holding the “Gone with the Wine” sign. I didn’t know who he was at that time, but I observed Dan, his wife Heather5, and his mother Dorothy6 to be charismatic and with a sense of warmth from the very first moment of our meeting; I immediately felt that it would be a wonderful excursion. Like celebrities, we were the first group whisked away from Hutchins Square and transported to what would be an unforgettable evening.
At the winery, we were greeted by Keith Baker, Tasting Room Manager; and Chad Joseph, Head Winemaker. Both were in crisp white shirts and jeans – seemingly showcasing the winery’s recurring theme – a duality of modern sleek elegance and rustic traditional appeal. Words of welcome ensued and then we were off to walk the estate with our glass of Albariño.
It is often difficult7 to resist surrendering to the urge of fantastic moments, especially when these moments are filled the grandeur of beautiful things. Dan shared with us the location where the artist must have stood or sat to capture the inspiration for the winery logo. I, naturally, could not contain myself. When the earth calls to copulate with my words, my response is almost instantaneous.
As if it was not enough to fall on the ground and pay homage to the beauty of the estate through words, I was compelled to express the poetry in movement with the help of a new wino friend Maia Parish8 The rustic reception barn and the vineyard turned into runways for a celebration of life, style, and great wine.
Before the sun could set, we9 gathered together at the patio and sat down to celebrate the fellowship that binds us together – food, wine, and family. We were all a family of Wine Bloggers embraced by the Oak Farm Vineyard family – all basking together in an elegantly-set dinner celebration.
Let us begin
With an Heirloom Truffle Caprese
And fall in love with the great Chef Michael Midgely.
Pair this artful three-fold bite with an estate-grown Sauvignon Blanc
For a zesty interplay of farm-to-fork goodness
Showcasing the region’s pride.
Chef Midgly sustains the smiles with the second course by pairing Oak Farm Vineyards 2014 Barbera with a crab and shrimp cocktail and chicharones10. Although I have an affinity for pairing a luscious red with pork11 I joined a communal reaction regarding the inventiveness of the pairing. Most people would probably pair white wine with a seafood cocktail, but here, Oak Farm Vinyards’ Barbera beautifully works. Chef Midgely intelligently tapers the acidity of the seafood cocktail and permits the wine to shine even more brightly. The crispness of the chicharones and the subtle and non-off-putting fat creates a buttery unifier of liquid fruit and the gifts of the sea.
Fine wine, fabulous food, and the epiphany of a good life continued to flow by sunset. The ensnaring smokiness of the meat made everyone captives to its unforgettable aroma and mouthwatering flavors. That evening, I was again thankful to have abandoned vegetarianism two years ago. I would have been denied of such beautiful union of man and meat.
In Catholic School, a nun once told me that hell is devoid of dessert and flowers. Now I know that I should have asked if hell is devoid of wine, too; that would be eternal punishment. The evening’s multi-course meal samples a taste of eternal bliss. The final course – a simple and delicious duality of warm and cold and all the sweetness in the world sustains the blessings of dinner. Fiano was the final pour and perfectly paired with the dessert with its subtle sweetness and fruit.
Sunset was beautiful, but it was quickly over and before we knew it, we were witnesses to the darkness of the Lodi sky. A dark tapestry where stars shine brightly to remind us of the legendary evening we experienced and more beautiful evenings, days, and afternoons at Oak Farm Vineyards and in captivating Lodi Wine Country, in general. I will forever be grateful for the Oak Farm Vineyard family’s warmth and generosity, and I look forward to similar experiences with them.
For more information on Oak Farm Vineyards and their wines please visit www.oakfarmvineyards.com.
You may also check out cavegrrl.com for wonderful details and photographs of the Oak Farm Vineyard excursion I experienced.
- My gratitude goes to Kristy DeVaney, a new local wino friend, who I met at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Thank you for letting me reference your photographs.
- Intentionally reminiscent of “Gone with the Wind.”
- Classic story of my life.
- Oak Farm Vineyards Owner and Winemaker
- Heather is Owner/General Manager and also currently handles Weddings and Receptions
- Owner/General Partner
- Especially for poetic fools like me.
- From the first moment our eyes met, we immediately connected and knew that friendship founded on wine, style, and other commonly-shared profound life matters will sustain through vineyards, tasting rooms, and beyond.
- New Wine Blogger friends Kristy DeVaney of Cave Grrl, Jamie Gall of Minnesota Girl in the World, Maia Parish of The Wine Suite LLC, Holly Shaw of Wine not WHINE, Heather Atherton representing Sacramento International Airport, Rhett Moffatt of Gone with the Wine, Steve and Charlotte Ferree of Wine Prof Guy, Maureen Blum of Mo Wino)
- Fried pork belly
- Now that I’m an ex-vegetarian.