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Thursday, May 3, 2012

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By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
You don’t really need a passport to explore California Wine Country, but you have to get to Dry Creek Valley to fully enjoy it – preferably on a Passport weekend, that’s been happening every Spring since 1990.
This year, Passport to Dry Creek Valley® brought about an unprecedented bounty of wine, food, music, and even – as if specially ordered for the event – sunshine.  
Sold out to the more than 5,000 wine and gourmet food enthusiasts, the festivities spread to the 50 wineries of Sonoma County within the Healdsburg-Geyserville-Cloverdale triangular.
Each winery featured a special theme, and some very special chef’s creations to pair with the sought-after wines.
Amista Vineyards chardonnay was complimented by artichoke aioli on grilled crostini by Chef John Franchetti of Rosso, and the famous Amista syrah paired nicely with lemon-parsley lamb garnished with red pepper potatoes.
Ridge Lytton-Springs Winery teamed up with Feast catering to create a scrumptious mini-feast of Zinfandel and lamb osso bucco with a side of mascarpone polenta.
At Mazzocco Sonoma, the guests were treated to an exciting pairing of limited production zins with spicy beet salad and Neapolitan-style pizzas coming straight from a Tuscan wood-burning oven.
Mauritson Family Winery created its own gourmet adventure with food and wine samplings from fish course to dessert. Winemaker Clay Mauritson’s single-vineyard wines were lavishly complimented by Chef Charlie Palmer’s crab cakes and beef brisket sliders. Rose verjus sorbet in an ice-cream cone was fittingly paired with 2011 Mauritson Rockpile rose.   
Surrounded by a beautiful oak grove, Canadian-themed Kachina Vineyards had full-uniformed Mounties and horses on premises, and paired its excellent cab with elk/boar sliders, each equipped with a maple-leaf mini-flag.  
Forchini Vineyards and Winery poured its estate reds – Papa Nonno Tuscan Red, Dry Creek Zinfandel, and BeauSierra to be consumed with mushroom and spinach crepe lasagna and double chocolate cake.
Bella Vineyards & Wine Caves turned into a fairy tale land, with costumed characters roaming the grounds, Mad Hatter’s tea party served in the cave, and luscious zin and syrah being perfectly matched with Michelin Star Chef Bruce Frieseke’s pulled pork over creamy polenta.
Passport to Dry Creek Valley is a brainchild of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley – an association of more than 60 wineries and 150 winegrape growers of the region. Dry Creek Valley is known for its signature varietal, Zinfandel, family-owned wineries, and the beauty of the valley. For more information, visit;;;;;;;


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