I recently had the pleasure of heading out to Sonoma, CA with some wonderful friends and tour several vineyards, hosted by the folks at E & J Gallo. I am sure you have heard the name “Gallo” before. This wine company has been around for ages. What you don’t know is that they own some spectacular vineyards and wineries, allow them to continue to operate with their own story and their own brand. Gallo is an amazingly family oriented company focused on bringing quality wines to all of us. Lucky us! And thanks to them, I have been introduced to a new way to look at sparkling wine.
One of the spectacular brands that we visited is J Winery. Holy amazing! I think I am in love! I do adore my La Marca Prosecco (another Gallo brand, btw) but now that I have discovered J Winery’s sparkling wines, I have lots more options. And they don’t just make bubbly wines. They also have a killer Pinot Gris and a couple of Pinot Noirs that are delicious. I’m sure there are more spectacular wines from J, but I was only there for a couple of hours and couldn’t taste everything. And just to clarify, sparkling wine is different from champagne and prosecco. Champagne is only from the Champagne region of France, prosecco is Italian, and sparkling wine is a bit more all-encompassing. There are different types of sparkling wine, made with different grape varietals, but the simple answer is that they all have bubbles.
Here’s a little background on the brand before I really get in to it. J was started by Judy Jordan (hence the J) in 1986 when she decided to follow her dream and her passion of opening a vineyard that specialized in sparkling wine. We had the honor of visiting the “Bubble Room” at J for a wine and food pairing unlike anything I have ever experienced. The executive chef, Carl Shelton, is a master at pairing foods with these sparkling and varietal wines. And he exemplified the notion that you eat with your eyes first because each one of the dishes served was as beautiful to look at as it was to taste.
Upon entering the Bubble Room, we were met with a glass of rose’ and escorted to our table. Of course I fell in love immediately with the rose’! We got a brief education about the vineyard and winery from our host and then the pairing began. Calling it a pairing is kind of an understatement. Let’s refer to it as an experience. The J Bubble Room is elegantly decorated, like a luxuriously swanky hotel, with fabulous chandeliers and a couple of lounge areas and dining tables. It kind of spoke my language – beautiful décor, fabulous food, special friends and wine. I was in my happy place.
The food began coming. Some of it was so pretty you didn’t want to eat it. But it was so good you didn’t want to stop!
If you are ever in Sonoma, this is a place you MUST go. Yes, the Bubble Room is open to the public with a reservation. Lucky you! If you would like to try some J wines, start here. I swear, you will find a new favorite wine and you will have a whole new way to look at plating your food.