The Force was, indeed, with us when we set out for San Francisco earlier this year, in part to break bread with two of my favorite wine industry pros: the talented, elegant, and award-winning Tonya Pitts of SF’s venerable One Market restaurant; and my partner in
crime business, the irrepressible and dutiful wine scribe Jonathan Cristaldi.
I was hitting up Tonya for her insights as part of an article for Napa Valley Wine Academy, and was set to talk wine writing turkey with Jonathan. And what do we wine pro folks do when get together?
It’s always a pleasure not just to hang out with people like that, and always fun to see what incredible libations they decide to recommend/open on the rare chances when we do get to actually meet and hang out together these days. So I thought that I’d share their selections from that trip, and since one of them has a connection to the greater Star Wars universe, May 4th seemed the right day to do it…
Skywalker Vineyards is, as you’ve likely guessed from the name (which holds special purpose to those of us who replaced religion with Star Wars in the youth of our postmodern lives), was envisioned by Star Wars creator George Lucas. Lucas apparently grew up surrounded by vineyards in Modesto, and later took inspiration from the vinous successes of his friend, Francis Ford Coppola, in setting to establish Skywalker Vineyards in Marin County. 2014 was the inaugural vintage of their bubbly, made in a Brut style and, based on my tasting, possessing almost as much longevity as Star Wars itself. From sniff to sip to gulp, this one exudes an elegant streak, a bit like first seeing Carrie Fisher on screen as Princess Leia. Meyer lemons, green apples, and wild red berries mix with toasted nut and baked bread notes, with fresh and dried tropical hints and flavors going all “pew pew” like laser shots between Tie Fighters and X-Wings. Less than 250 cases were made, making this one rarer than a vintage Blue Snaggletooth Star Wars figure.
It’s hard not to like the iconoclasts of Oregon’s Quady North, whose wines wowed me as a judge at the 2018 Oregon Wine Experience Competition. Shannon happens to be a self-proclaimed Grenache nut, so Tonya suggested an older vintage of their Grenache-based Bomba that she had tucked away when we visited her at One Market. And wow, did this ever pair well with One Market’s pork…! I feel this red was inappropriately named—sure, it had lots of cherry fruit action still on it, but it didn’t come off as a typical fruit bomb. Succulent, savory, and well-developed, it still had plenty of vivacity/freshness, and lots of complexity, with wild game and black pepper action. For what you shell out for it, to have it last this long and still be this good is more than you should or could expect.