An East Bay landmark every spring hosts a delightful celebration of food and wine.
Now in its fourth year, the Berkeley Wine Festival is under way once again at the stately Claremont Hotel & Spa, running through the end of May.
Located in the Berkeley hills overlooking scenic San Francisco Bay, the Claremont invites a number of vintners from northern California and the Pacific Northwest to pour wines paired with the choice menus of Scott Quinn, chef de cuisine of Meritage and a disciple of Napa Valley chef/restaurateur Thomas Keller.
While the festival’s grand opening reception has passed, there are still a lot of pairings planned every Friday evening through the start of Memorial Day weekend.
Quinn’s slow-paced four-course meals are paired each week with current release and library wines from wineries invited to take part by food and beverage director Sean Hubbard. Prices for the weekly food and wine pairings include all taxes and gratuity. The Claremont’s signature restaurant has to be counted as one of the best and most scenic dining options in the Bay Area — and only 45 minutes away.
For example, this Friday the trend of sustainable vineyards is the focus as Benzinger Family Winery bottlings will be featured. Chris Benzinger will be on hand to share his decadent reserve and estate wines paired with the organic fare prepared by chef Quinn and his culinary team. Cost of Friday’s food and wine pairing is $130.
Considered one of the best producers crafting Old World style wines, DeLille Cellars from Woodinville, Wash., is the invited wine company on April 12. This pairing is also offered at $130 per person.
Featuring both Napa Valley and Howell Mountain wines, Robert Foley Vineyards is on the bill on April 19. Winemaker/owner Bob Foley will treat diners to an extensive selection of the wines that he produces. Poured for the reception will be Foley’s 2011 semillon, followed by the 2010 pinot blanc, paired with the first course, fava bean agnolotti with black trumpet mushrooms. His 2010 pinot noir will be poured with chef Quinn’s BLT — pan-seared Alaskan halibut with Little Gem lettuce, tomato confit and black truffle Bordelaise. Braised saddle of Four Story Hills rabbit is the main course, served with baby artichokes and purple carrot velouté and paired with both 2009 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon and 2010 Griffin. Dessert is a bitter chocolate raspberry bombe with almond crème anglaise, complemented by 2006 Pepperland petite sirah. Cost of this pairing is $140.
The remaining events include:
April 26 ($165 per person): Guests can savor the highly acclaimed cabernet sauvignon of Silver Oak Cellars. Winemaker Daniel Baron will be on hand to pour and discuss Twomey Cellars pinots, merlots and cabernets from Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley and Napa Valley vineyards.
May 3 ($130 per person): Kick off the month of May with tastings from one of Oregon’s oldest and most renowned wineries, Elk Cove Vineyards. Owner Adam Godless Campbell will lead a sumptuous dinner and tasting for his newest vintages along with a library selection of his pinot trilogy — noir, gris, and blanc.
May 10 ($130 per person): Winemaker Michael Scholz will treat guests to his Dollarhide cabernet sauvignon as well as meritage blends of Élu and Virtu from Napa Valley’s St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery.
May 17 ($150 per person): Join winemaker Jac Cole in celebrating a monumental milestone — 140 years of cabernet sauvignon from Spring Mountain Vineyard’s oldest vineyard, La Perla. Among the wines showcased at this pairing will be the 2011 sauvignon blanc and multiple vintages of Elivette and cabernet sauvignon.
May 24 ($140 per person): For the last event of the festival, owner Julie Johnson, of Tres Sabores Winery, returns to bring guests her elegant zinfandels along with other varietals. Diners will be able to indulge in the myriad of wines from Johnson’s cellar as well as a vineyard-to-table dinner made with ingredients sourced from her property.
A portion of the proceeds from all festival events benefits the Alameda Food Bank.
For additional information about menus as well as reservations, log onto BerkeleyWineFestival.com. For hotel information, call 510-898-0040.