Love in the Vines

Winemakers Danielle Cyrot and Bruce Devlin, married for 10 years, have the unusual fortune to work across the street from each other in the Napa Valley—she at St. Clement Vineyards and he at Ballentine Vineyards. We thought they might be able to give us some insider tips on vintner romance.

Special bottle? Danielle: During a wonderful meal in Australia, Bruce dared me to order a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne. If I ordered it, he said, he would propose. I ordered the bottle. He got down on one knee! Ever since, Veuve Clicquot has been our
favorite producer of champagne.  Romantic wine country dinner?  Danielle: Where we were married at
Meadowood in St. Helena, surrounded by redwood trees in one of the most secluded areas around. Oh, and the food is amazing.  Bruce: The Culinary Institute. I don’t think there is a more romantic (or
historic) spot in the valley.  Best bottle for a romantic picnic?  [under $15]  Ballentine 2009 Chenin Blanc. Crisp, clean, refreshing floral
citrus.  [over $15]  2009 Etude Rose. It is great with creamy cheeses like brie or
camembert.  For a meat-based dish?  [under $15]  Bogle Petite Sirah. Petite sirah is inky dark purple in color and has great blueberry, and black cherry flavors. It has bold tannins that go great with a variety of meats.  [over $15] 2006 St. Clement Vineyards Oroppas Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. This wine goes well with any meat, due to its great
texture, wonderful aromatics of brown spices and black cherries, and
elegantly structured tannins. (Oroppas is Sapporo spelled backwards in honor of the former owners.)  For a fish- or vegetable-based dish?  [under $15]  2009 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc–Viognier. Chenin and viognier make a great combo. The chenin adds a great citrus fruit element with nice acidity. Viognier has a great floral, honeysuckle note to it.  [over $15]  Sarapo Family Wines 2009 Tessa Chardonnay. This chardonnay has just the right balance of acidity and body. It is fruity (with cantaloupe flavors) and has a supple and creamy mouthfeel.  With a chocolate dessert?  [under $15]  Can’t think of one … sorry.  [over $15]  Larkin 2007 Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley. This wine may be a bit of a splurge, but it is totally worth it. By far this is the best cabernet franc that we have tasted. It is rich, bold and perfect in all the right places. Just like with chocolate, you can’t stop at one bite …(or sip)!

Say Cheese
Pescadero’s award-winning goat cheese producer Harley Farms is offering a tour and decadent five-course seasonal meal served in the rustically charming barn on February 12. More dates in March. $150 per person.

A Winery with Heart
While the research on health benefits of dark chocolate and red wine gives partakers possible cause for relief, this month’s Perfectly Paired tasting at Ehlers Estate Vineyards offers the possibility to partake for a cause. Elhers is held in trust by the Leducq Foundation, which has donated $187 million for cardiovascular research in 16 countries in the past 11 years. And to make life even sweeter, through February the winery is partnering with Woodhouse Chocolates, creator of handmade treats from St. Helena, to offer a barrel tasting, tour of the estate and take-away gift for $50 per person.