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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wine Down With Locally Fresh Fare

Wine Down with Locally Fresh Fare

Fresh local food and wine served with great company

Story by Paula Bandy

It's not just the embrace of the surrounding mountains that makes Folin Cellars Estate Vineyard and Tasting Room feel so special, but the kind of magic that can be felt there. The elegant tasting room and expansive winery sit strikingly in Sam's Valley. Out the front door are flower gardens and the vineyards: a small woods hugs the back. On this evening we are gathered in anticipation of farmer's market produce and fresh, locally caught salmon (see story on page 90) at the estate wine dinner. Folin Cellars Sales and Marketing Director, Carole Stevens, is our accomplished chef for the evening—a lovely woman of many talents.

The food in preparation was all locally sourced and gathered at the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market in Medford. Just picking out the food itself was delightful! There was the sunshine and vivid colors, the joy of looking at all the produce and picking the finest garlic (Antonio's Farm), juicy raspberries (Fry Family Farms) and fava beans—luckily I was proven wrong in saying we wouldn't find any—at Bigham Farms. Asparagus, stinging nettles, chives, herbs were all available, fresh and local.

Shopping at a farmer's market is an epicurean's delight—an act of instant and self-gratification. Consider the vigor and bustle, the delicious juiciness and ripeness of it all. Shopping a fresh market is about nourishment and community, mutual interdependence and an act of love. Which is also what we are about to experience at the Folin wine dinner.

Sipping and tasting the wines is of course part of the pre-dinner affair. The beautiful Grenache Rose is a perfect companion to the golden light that filters through the valley and across the tree-covered mountains. Lively games of bocce ball ensue on the two courts. The long patio table awaits. Glass water carafes are filled and the feeling of time slowing settles in.

The evening is communal. Rob Folin instructs us to get our own plates and utensils so to be more casual and relationship oriented. While opening the first bottle, a sweetly spiced Grenache to enhance the frisée salad with bacon and beets, he says that the whole point of this evening is to have a fun night. "The opening of a bottle of wine," Folin states, "is like the opening of one's self." And so the dinner begins.

The second course is stinging nettle linguini and served on the same plate. "One plate, seasoned from each previous course," we are told. The pasta was handmade by Rob and then hung to dry across the top back of light wood chairs (I had mistaken it earlier for buckskin fringe). Paired with Folin's award winning GSM, Misceo, it helped set the stage for the moon to rise over the mountains and a slight breeze to skim the table. A touch of Viognier cleansed the palate.

The freshly caught salmon now makes its appearance, accompanied by Folin Estate foraged morels and Oregon Truffle Oil. This is paired with their distinctive Tempranillo, "The only non-Rhone varietal that we do," Folin tells us. "Honestly, there is no way this isn't going to be awesome." And the night continues its opening.

Dessert is a pairing of a succulent late harvest Viognier with Rogue Creamery blue cheese cheesecake layered with raspberries and chocolate. All the finest of local fare. Good wine deserves good food.

The lovely evening has become night, bottles of fine wine have been opened and consumed, and Rob Folin reiterates, "We are all about wine. Wine has a vital quality...a physical experience and a human connection. And tonight, it's been all about the company."

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