Oysters, Sauvignon Blanc & Paella

So, I love wine.  I love to drink it, I love to collect it, I love to learn about it. I’m a sucker for a wine club. Each time I visit California wine country, I inevitably join something.  My criteria for the clubs are that I a) love the wine, b) find something interesting or intriguing about the winery and c) would have difficulty finding the wine back in NYC.  Because, let’s face it, I’m not benefiting from the free tastings in the tastings rooms or the wine member events out in Napa Valley.

So I was thrilled to learn that my favorite club, Elizabeth Spencer, was hosting their annual oyster party the weekend I just happened to be in San Francisco.  ES was actually the first club I joined.  I was in Napa Valley for the weekend and before embarking on my 3 day journey around wine country, I stopped off at a random little tasting room off Rte 29.  I honestly don’t even remember how I stumbled upon it. It is located in a small brick building, the former Rutherford Post Office, built in 1872, a few hundred feet off the main highway.  They don’t own any vineyards, they purchase their grapes from a handful of growers based on a philosophy of maintaining high quality fruit while paying a fair and reliable price.  But there we were, tasting some of the fullest, earthiest reds I had ever tasted, and I was hooked.

So fast forward, we’re back in Napa Valley, doing what we do best, charging through wine country like it’s a sport.  After a day of wine tasting, we actually arrived at the party a bit early.  Imagining we would have to wait to actually enter, we were surprised to be warmly welcomed 15 minutes early by Allison, sitting at a table out front of the tasting room.  Inside, we were warmly greeted by Spencer himself with a glass of their new release Sauvignon Blanc.  We were far from the first people there and it was soon obvious, that to Elizabeth and Spencer, they were welcoming their friends.  Once entering the red brick tasting room (which is the size of a small, one room schoolhouse), there is another door to the left that takes you out to the backyard.  Gravel paths and tables line the area that leads to another small building housing another tasting table.  On the way was the table of oysters that remained overflowing with freshly shucked oysters for the entire evening.  In the far tasting room, two more reds were being served along with mounds of bread and cheese.

After meeting a handful of locals, a woman from Australia who had transplanted to Napa to start her own business, a man from LA who had recently bought a small house just three doors down from the tasting room, and of course, Elizabeth herself, it was time to hunt down the paella.

And what good timing! Behind the “picnic” area, nestled next to the hedgerows was another gravelly picnic area where we came up an astounding fire pit with an enormous pot of paella simmering away.  We had just about enough time to take a picture before they swept away the pot and started serving the paella.  I’m not sure if it was actually the best paella I ever had or if it was the delicious Cabernet Sauvignon I was drinking, or having just watched it be taken off the hot coals to serve.  Maybe it was just the general ambiance of the night, the warm air, the soft lighting and the general friendliness from my fellow wine club members.  But it was a perfect evening.


Elizabeth Spencer Wines

1165 Rutherford Road

Rutherford, CA


get directions here

Speak Your Mind