Whole Hog Dinner at West of West Festival Aug. 4

Held at Union Hotel in Occidental, CA. After a reception with wine and appetizers in the hotel courtyard, we moved inside to find places at the tables. Two winemakers at most tables. I was fortunate to be at the table with Katy Wilson, young owner and winemaker at LaRue Wines and associate winemaker at Kamen. (She has worked with Testarossa, Torbreck in Australia, New Zealand, and Joseph Phelps in Napa. See http://laruewines.com/About_Us/ Her parents were also at our table. With their agricultural background in California’s Central Valley, Katy grew up learning how to drive a tractor, use a forklift, etc., handy skills now as a winemaker.
Ashley Christensen was brought in from Raleigh to oversee the barbeque pit hog (a Sonoma County denizen) and the dinner. She was up almost all night tending the smoker. I’ve known Ashley from her years at Enoteca Vin in Raleigh and then Poole’s Diner (she is owner/chef.) She now has additional ventures: Beasley’s Chicken and Honey, Fox Liquor Bar, and Chuck’s (ground chuck burgers with various toppings and names such as The Dirty South.)
The whole hog dinner was fabulous–tender, smoky, pork with a barbeque sauce and lots of side dishes to pass around the table. I loved the salad–chickpeas, mint, heirloom tomatoes.
What wines you drank depended on what winemaker was at your table and what other winemakers came by and passed around more bottles. I loved Katy Wilson’s 2010 LaRue Pinot Noir, Sonoma County. 13.2% abv. Silky texture, very aromatic. Pretty garnet color; leggy. Cherry flavor. I’d already been impressed by her 2010 Larue Spivak-Rice Vineyard Pinot Noir and the afternoon seminar. She also shared with us a Sauvignon Blanc she helped make at Kamen–very nice. A Kamen Cabernet Franc was offered later in the evening but I was easing off the wine by then, anticipating the drive back to my hotel in Rohnert Park. Look for LaRue Wines. Katy is a young talent in the wine industry. Everyone seemed in a good mood at the dinner. I spotted Merry Edwards, Kevin O’Connor and Matt Licklider of Lioco, Jasmine Hirsch, etc. Andy Peay helped introduce the three auction items to benefit local schools–31 magnums of Sonoma Coast wine from 31 different vintners, a weekend accompanied cycling trip with visits to wineries and overnight accommodations, and two people to each receive half a butchered hog, a case of local olive oil, and a six-pack of favorite Sonoma Coast wines.
Makes me want to return for next year’s West of West. We’ll see.

+1 on LaRue & Katy. A nicer person you won’t meet.

That sounds like a wonderful evening!

2010 LaRue Sonoma Coast PN released today. All Rice-Spivak this time.