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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: February 2, 2012.

Crab season in northern California is always a reason to celebrate with friends! Whether for a treat at home, a foundation benefit, or a gourmet feast paired expertly with wine, Dungeness crab is succulent and plentiful, and always worth the effort.

On a recent evening at Kendall-Jackson Wine Center in Fulton, a blink of a town located some seven miles north of Santa Rosa’s city limits, the winery’s culinary team prepared a top notch meal honoring the remarkable pairing of Dungeness Crab and Chardonnay. Kendall-Jackson Winery produces several extraordinary and distinctively different Chardonnays, and on this evening, guests, primarily made up of the winery’s local club members, were treated to pairings that highlighted the rich sweetness of the crab meat paired with the different characteristics in each of the wines. Guests got to decide for themselves which pairings suited their palate best.

The evening started with a reception in the winery’s main salon. Guests were greeted by congenial staff with a warm hello and a refreshingly crisp glass of wine. Then, as a variety of crab-based hors d’oeuvre’s were passed, Wine Educator, Dale Cullins, floated through the room sharing wines and tasting tips on each of the three wines being featured during the reception.

The feeling in the air as we mingled and took in the tasteful displays, was lively and genuine. It was apparent that many of the guests were  acquainted. There was a sense of joy in the room and excitement about an upcoming reality television show that will be airing, and featuring the winery (details below). The buzz in the air was contagious!

Crab Dip served during the reception

The crab meat, crab dip and crab cakes paired well with the vibrant, crisp fruit forward tones in the first of the seven wines were served that evening, and as each wine progressed in complexity and richness, so did the charm of the understated evening.

Executive Chef, Justin Wangler serves house made delectables

Long time Executive Chef, Justin Wangler, and Sous Chef, Andrei Litvinenko were stationed in the salon, and while preparing savory mini pancakes laced with caviar and creme fraiche, they chatted casually with guests. It was evident that the winery team and club members had long standing friendships.

After about an hour mingling, we were escorted through the once closed French doors, into the event center, where assigned seats awaited us. Candles and a burning fire set an elegant tone for the family style meal that was to come.

Tables were dressed with three wine glasses at every setting, a water goblet, and ramekins containing a choice of either a lemon aioli or cocktail sauce.

The menu was simple yet upscale for a crab dinner.  It even offered a light but delectable dessert paired with a sensational wine.

Family style service created a friendly and lively atmosphere

Santa Rosa couple enjoy a night out

As we helped each other to serve portions of the side dishes, we got better acquainted. Family-style meals are always enjoyable for that very reason. I learned that the couple seated to my left were long time friends of the late Jess Jackson, Founder. The husband had gone to school with him back in the 1940’s, and they even attended the same college. They were delightful, and their fondness for the man was apparent in their loyalty.

Carolyn Coryelle (Direct to Consumer Marketing Manager), makes Wine Club “Mayor”, William “Bud” Morgan feel right at home.

Dinner culminated with a few speeches and shows of appreciation from the KJ Staff to their club members, and the number one fan, a man affectionately known as Wine Club “Mayor”, said a few words, encouraging everyone to go home with wine that evening. The crowd was absolutely giddy.  It’s safe for me to say that I have never been to a more enthusiastic wine club event.

It was a fun evening of friends old and new, and the highly revered crab that brought everyone together, well it played only a supporting role. It was the love and dedication for this great winery that was the star. Congratulations Kendall-Jackson Winery, on a job well done!

Stay tuned Sunday, 1/29, to UNDERCOVER BOSS, as more on this one, special vine, will be revealed!

SIDE NOTE: On January 29th Kendall-Jackson will was featured on the popular CBS show ‘Undercover Boss’! Shout out to KJ new President Rick Tigner for his wonderful tribute to Jess Jackson and his kind and generous heart to help those in need!

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