Those who have dined the Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena have enjoyed wines from organically grown grapes, vegetables, olives, poultry and top-notch pasture-raised beef.
It is a location that reaps the benefits of the Long Meadow Ranch business model to source the finest organic wine and foods from their estates in the Anderson Valley, Rutherford, St. Helena, the Mayacamas Mountains as well as pastures in Marin County’s Tomales Station.
To showcase guest chefs who are part of the international sustainable foods and nonindustrial meat movement while supporting the Timothy W. Hall Foundation, Long Meadow Ranch presents a summer Live Fire Guest Chef Dinner series, available to the public, at the St. Helena property. Since 1997, the non-profit Timothy W. Hall Foundation has been funding children’s arts and sciences including school garden and animal husbandry projects, land stewardship, healthy food and music education.
Past guest chefs have included Cassidee Dabney from Blackberry Farm Restaurant in Walland, Tennessee and Chef Johan Jureskog, owner of two restaurants, AG and ROLF’S KÖK, in Stockholm, Sweden. Current guest Chef Howard Hanna, owner of The Rieger in Kansas City, Missouri, prepared the menu and oversaw preparation for the final Pit Fire event, held in late September. Hanna has been recognized as a two- time semi-finalist for Best Chef: Midwest by the James Beard Award Foundation. In 2014, he opened CA VA, a French-inspired restaurant and champagne bar, in Kansas City.
Special guests at the event included Lou Fantasma from Paradise Locker Meats and Team Heritage Foods, both leaders in the heritage breed movement and culinary icon Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley who spoke of her School Lunch Initiative intended to teach children to appreciate good food and eating healthy.
On a brisk Napa Valley evening, we were greeted by Jeff Meisel, VP of Brand Development at Long Meadow Ranch with a glass of Long Meadow Ranch Rosé of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley 2018 ($25), from Mendocino County in hand. Meisel joined Long Meadow Ranch in 2016 to lead brand partnerships and strategies, public relations and winery events. He sees the Pit Fire Series, by highlights national and international guest chefs, as an opportunity to expose people to the global sustainable foods and heritage meat community.
With regard to the Rosé of Pinot Noir, pleasant stone fruit and floral hints on the nose were followed by strawberry spice flavors It was delicate, yet stood up to the Heritage ham selections with melon, nacho peppers and the Long Meadow Ranch grass-fed beef with pickled vegetables.
For starters, we enjoyed a fig salad with Lou Fantasma’s whipped braunschweiger (smoked spreadable sausage),sweet onions, arugula and roasted eggplant with heirloom tomatoes, prato lungo (Italian for Long Meadow) extra virgin olive oil, both paired with the crisp Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford 2018 ($23). There was a pleasant roundness to the wine with flavors of lemongrass and stone fruit leading to an elegant finish.
The main course was split between four dishes: Long Meadow Ranch Grass-fed Lamb Kitfo over braised greens, Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch Turkey Wings with smoked chili butter, Newman Farms Smoked Berkshire Porchetta and Shannon Creek Farm Coal Roasted Heritage Breed Goat Sausage with Jimmy Nardello peppers that were paired with Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2016 ($42) and the Rutherford Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($80), both well- crafted, balanced wines.
With spice on the nose, the pinot noir added a nice mouthfeel with rich traditional flavors that stood up to the meat dishes. The structure of the cabernet sauvignon, with dark fruit and hints of cocoa on the palate, blended seamlessly with all the main courses.
Highly aromatic with hints of spice, honey and lemon meringue on the nose, the Late Harvest Chardonnay Anderson Valley ($35) perfectly accompanied the dessert Apple Fritter with smoked river cheddar, maple glaze and something called J. Rieger Kansas City whiskey glaze.
The Live Fire Guest Chef Dinner series is presented annually during the summer months at the Farmstead Estate. The schedule for next summer’s program will be available in the Spring 2020 at www.longmeadowranch.com.
The food was extraordinary, but I gained an appreciation for Long Meadow Ranch wines that were flavorful and balanced with the complexity to pair well with a wide array of spicy food dishes. Until the next series begins, I recommend wining and dining at the Farmstead Restaurant the next time you are in the Napa Valley area.
Lyle W. Norton is a wine enthusiast and blogger in Santa Rosa who has written a wine column for 15 years. Visit his blog at www.lifebylyle.com or email him at email@example.com. He is a guest columnist.