Dennis Cakebread with friends in the Dancing Bear VineyardIt’s now Sunday morning and the 25th Annual Cakebread American Harvest Workshop is in my rearview mirror.  So much has happened since my last blog.  After Saturday’s breakfast the chefs left to prepare lunch for attendees at three locations: the Foster Road Vineyard, where Cakebread’s Reserve Chardonnay is grown, Jack and Dolores’s home, and the Dancing Bear Vineyard on Howell Mountain.  I chose the Dancing Bear lunch, held at a property named after a group of ursine intruders who love to munch on wine grapes (especially Merlot).  This meal was hosted by Dennis Cakebread.

While at the Vineyard we enjoyed the 2003 Dancing Bear Cabernet Sauvignon, full of spice and dark cherry and finishing with a thick coating of mocha and dark chocolate.  Dennis also graciously poured a 1981 Zinfandel that was certainly past its prime but still offered a fascinating window into the Cakebread’s winemaking philosophy over the years.

Dinner on the Pecan Patio is so lovelyAfter lunch we went back to the hotel to prepare for the Gala Chefs Dinner on the Pecan Patio at the winery.  I won’t list them all here (go to Cakebread’s website for full details) but my favorite was the foie gras and chicken terrine with kumquat preserves and garden vegetables a la Grecque (lightly pickled).  It matched perfectly with Cakebread’s apricot- and peach-laced 2008 Chardonnay Anderson Valley, a wine from Mendocino County with class and distinction as well as a chewy, buttery finish.  Eight courses take a lot of time to present and discuss, particularly as each came with a different wine pairing, but eventually the dinner concluded and everyone went back to the hotel for an after-party at the bar.  I lasted until about 2:00 a.m., but I later heard that several of the chefs (who are a whole lot more used to such things than even I am) kept going until past 5:00 a.m.

People often ask me why I do what I do.  In large part it’s because of folks like Jack, Dolores, Bruce and Dennis Cakebread.  Like many truly successful winery owners and winemakers, they have such a deep appreciation for their customers, and such a love and zest for their work, that it’s easy to support them.  I feel honored and privileged to be able to attend events such as Cakebread’s American Harvest Workshop.  I hope I’m invited back again next year.