Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Throw Food and Wine Orgy at Jeriko Estate in Mendocino

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov

It’s simple, really. All you have to do is win a prize and share it with friends who know how to operate a pizza oven, cook perfect pork with salsa verde, and make breakfast mimosas. As long as all are in agreement on what food and wine is going to be consumed first and what next, your orgy is “bound” to be a success.

So, the backstory goes as follows: I don’t usually participate in contests and win prizes, but when I do I win big. By taking part in one of the Jetset Extra contests, I won a two-night stay at the Jeriko Villa, a part of the family-owned boutique organic winery on California Highway 101.
Jeriko Estate produces pinot noir, chardonnay, syrah, merlot, sauvignon blanc, and sangiovese since 1997, is surrounded by 180 acres of vineyards, and has a rustic-looking tasting room with plenty to see and taste.

I quickly compiled a list of friends based on their presumed compatibility [and it worked!]. Teresa, Jason, and baby Cassandra Rose – check, Jean – check, Patty – check, Wilson – check, Alex and Jason – check, and Yuri and moi. The date was set for a weekend of Indian Summer, and the weather was California-balmy.
We arrived at the gate when the sun was still high, and had a chance to explore the historic colonial house built in 1898 by Judge J. H. Sturtevant from San Francisco, and nestled among oak groves and rolling hills.

Current proprietor Daniel Fetzer remodeled and extended the house into a 7000 square-foot Mediterranean-style villa with an outdoor pool, balconies with panoramic views, and a circular drive with a green lawn and palm trees in front of the building.
There are six spacious guest rooms at the villa, named after wines, a living room with a fireplace, a library, and a pool table, and a gourmet kitchen with wood-burning oven.

Alex and her Jason took it upon themselves to make the fire burn, and it did. Then each of us attempted to create a special-recipe pizza with ready-made dough and random ingredients.

Wilson, a thorough home chef, who apparently studied the subject before slapping tomato sauce on the dough, came up with the best pizza that evening, and explained his success by using just a little sauce so the crust wouldn’t get soggy. Who knew?

In the pizza posing competition, Teresa and baby Cassandra Rose were named the hardest working couple by the oven.

There were many great things to be said at the table that night, many great laughs to be shared, and more than necessary slices of pizza to be gobbled up.

Next morning, the girls were having a mimosa glamour shot before breakfast, while the men were working in the kitchen and tending to the baby – voluntarily, of course.

Yuri’s famous chanterelle omelet with forest-gathered mushrooms was complemented by Patty’s blueberry cornbread, Jean’s fresh fruit plate, and Alex’s brandy and vanilla bread pudding. Come to think of it, the girls were still slaving in the kitchen – oh well.

Breakfast over, the mother-and-daughter dynamic duo were putting on their stylish shades for a walk in the vineyards, and we all felt that we needed plenty of exercise to make up for all the carbs and proteins we washed down with char and pinot the night before and the morning after…

Alex was playing the Spirit of the Grapes first, and then offered a glass of red to a herd of resident goats living on premises.
As a city girl, she probably didn’t know better, but what about that goat getting all excited over her offer?

We had to retreat to the villa and show her an old well where some people could be dipped for behaving badly.

Relaxing by the pool, our jolly group was photographed by Wilson, who did a great job despite having a wine glass constantly glued to his hand.
Alex’s ikebana graced our dinner table, crowded with collectively grilled chicken, zucchini and peppers, freshly-made salads, and pickles from a jar.

We opened several bottles of Jeriko wines, courtesy of our gracious host, Mr. Danny Fetzer, and went on and on discussing their impeccable qualities.
Everyone slept like a baby that night, besides the real baby Cassandra, who made her mommy and daddy jump a little – apparently, she reserved all her good behavior for the company. From the company standpoint, it would be hard to imagine a more sociable, happy, and polite baby. (There is nothing like a well-behaved little human who knows how important it is to look good in public).
Next morning, her mommy made a huge breakfast of her family recipe pork with salsa verde to set us off for the day of traveling back to our respective dwellings.
So long, Jeriko Villa! You will be always associated with good time in our collective memory.
To reserve your own stay or event at the Villa, a wine tasting and a tour, call 707-744-1140 or visit: www.jeriko.us.

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