WinestockSF’s Oenophile Exposition, A Weekend of Peace and Wine

By Eileen Solis Rogers
Photography by Christian Thomas 

WinestockSF’s vision of bringing together winemakers, local food artisans and foodies alike to experience the adventure, enthusiasm and excitement that embody the wine community spirit came to life at the inauguration of WinestockSF on July 20-21, 2013 at Firehouse 8 in San Francisco’s Russian Hill.  The 2-day event showcased 35+ local wines and local food artisans all under one roof for a spectacular tasting event!  Firehouse 8, an historic San Francisco firehouse is replete with fixtures from the original old firehouse as well as a contemporary open floor plan which offered a perfect setting for the event.  Upon entering, guests step into a gracious and lively atmosphere and excitement abounds as they are handed a Riedel wine glass, the perfect vessel for sipping wines.  Each winery showcased their featured wines on the tops of oak barrels lending an atmosphere of a tasting room in a winery.

The wine tasting experience at WinestockSF is truly a unique encounter.  Food artisans were handing out edibles which, when paired with wine, just made the experience exceptional.  Smitten Artisan Truffles lured guests with a selection of truffle flavors such as Pineapple and Ghost Chili, Bourbon Infused Caramel and Smoked Sea Salt, and my favorite Kalamansi and Crème Honey.  Sal De Vida Gourmet had an amazing display of a variety of Sea Salts with flavors such as Cilantro, Balsamic, Orange, Habanero, Lavender, Herbs de Provence, Green Garlic and Cabernet.  Truffle Gateau was proud to have guests sampling their 100% pure dark and milk Belgian chocolates, an excellent pairing with all types of wines and cheeses as their chocolate has a soft cheese-like texture.  Saint & Olive enticed guests with their high-quality, handmade Biscotti and their spread was categorized into “Sweet” (Chocolate Almond Toffee with Sea Salt, Chocolate Fig and Anise), “Savory” (Prosciutto Parmesan, Sweet Potato Maple Bacon, Spicy Honey Cheddar Cornmeal), and “Seasonal” (Honey Lemon Thyme, Blueberry Lavender with Chocolate, Cornmeal Strawberry Basil, Fig and Coppa, Turkish Espresso).  What kept guests coming back for more were her “palate cleansers”;  Salted Rosemary with Olive Oil and Black Pepper Walnut Parmesan – both from “Savory”, who knew?  Feve Artisan Chocolatier invited guests to experience their chocolate creations both for their stunning appearance and unique flavor combinations.  A true delight to your senses!

Now about the wines – WinestockSF founder Paulina Lopez truly has a discerning palate when it comes to wine.  And that was evidenced with the selection of all the wines at the event.  One would have a hard time choosing a favorite.  As the guests roamed around the firehouse, the “Rockstars” of wine were excited and eager to share the story behind their craft!  They evoked their passion in winemaking and only aroused guests even more.  The Rockstars of Wine included:  Jamie Kutch of Kutch Wines, Eric Miller of Kokomo Winery, Steve Sterling of Esterlina, Keith Crowell of Les Voleurs , Sara Fowler of Peju Province Winery, Ryan Cochrane of Ryan Cochrane Wines, Russell Joyce of Joyce Vineyards, and Chris Christensen of Bodkins.  Other wines in the selection included Spicy Vines, Cellars 33, Toby Lane, Hanna, Pat Paulsen, Pushback, Dawn’s Dream, Rockwall Wines, Moreno BH, Everett Ridge Winery and Fogline.

The VIP Hors D’oeuvres Table included Smoked Salmon Canape with Creamy Roasted Bell Pepper and Capers, Korean Beef Bulgogi Sliders with Scallions, Shredded Carrots and Bell Peppers, Ras El Hanout Goat Cheese Fillo Tartlets with Caramelized Red Onions and a Local Cheese and Charcuterie Platter.

Kristen Capella, AQ Restaurant’s Wine Director, shared her love affair with sparkling wines and champagnes while guests enjoyed a 3-Course Tasting of Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Confit on Buckwheat Blinis with Crème Fraiche – paired with a Dry Riesling from Esterlina, Chicken with Dijon and Sage Cream Sauce on top of Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Shaved Asiago – paired with Antech Limoux Emotion Champagne, and Medallion of Herb Roasted Beef Tenderloin accompanied with Asparagus Risotto and Olive Tapenade – paired with 2009 Merlot from Peju.  Kristen delighted guests with her sunny disposition on anything bubbly and maintains that the spirits make for a celebratory drink.

A panel of Wine Rockstars took turns sharing with guests the story behind their wines, what got them started in the industry, and some snippets of how they maintain consistency in their craft.  Their quest for producing great quality wines was highlighted throughout and each of them shared their unique style, be it from growing/buying grapes from a certain appellation, whether to include stems, to choosing the source of water for their creation.  They all led the discussion with such flair the room filled with lots of laughter and sipping.

WinestockSF is a production that offers a unique and lively gathering of wine enthusiasts and foodies alike and it is well on its way to becoming a true San Francisco gem!