Last week we were asked to participate in a hospitality presentation at Peju Winery. With a new chef, Marianne, at the helm of the food, and the winemaker, Sarah Fowler, still producing great wine, Peju is investing in a new series of food and wine pairing sessions. The first was the wine and cheese: four distinct California cheeses paired with four of Peju’s wines. The goat cheese stood out beautifully with the Sauvignon Blanc, the Humboldt Fog went well with the Provence, lamb prosciutto was paired with the 05 Merlot, and a sheep’s milk cheese with the 05 Cabernet Sauvignon. The chef was informative, entertaining, and very engaging with the group (no more than fifteen in each session). We followed this up with a tour of the grounds and discovered (finally!) that those funky trees they are growing are stripped down sycamores. If you haven’t seen them, you should. They are leafing all the way up each long trunk and the effect is hypnotic. We toured the estate vineyard where their award-winning Cab comes from, as well as the chef’s herb and vegetable garden where everything was popping up in abundance. Our hosts, Katie and Connor, talked to us about the energy-efficiency of the winery as it utilizes solar panels to produce close to 40% of the energy the winery uses to produce the wines. We were taken through the barrel room and then fortunate enough to see the new bottling machine where they were just putting together a new bottle and label of a Syrah Rose. Returning to the main tasting room, we were escorted through the new tasting room addition that is very bright, beautiful, and contemporary. We finished our day back upstairs for a second session, this time for tapas and wine pairing. We started with a goat’s milk yogurt cheese with a pate paired with the 05 Merlot, moved to the lamb meatball with pomegranate reduction paired with the 05 Cabernet Franc, proceeded to the crostini with boar prosciutto and caramelized onions/macerated cherries which perfectly fit the 05 Fifty/Fifty blend, and finished with the Yellow Bell Pepper in tempura that was paired with the 04 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Once the hour session was completed we made a beeline to the kitchen for a quick tour and then to the tasting room to purchase some of these wines. We both highly recommend the experience (cheese tasting @$40; tapas tasting @ $60) and would encourage a guest to do BOTH (there may be a discount for both experiences in a single day)! What a great way to spend a few hours drinking wine, enjoying the vineyards, and eating really great, creative food. Currently these are being offered on Thursdays and Fridays. Cheese tastings are at 11:00 a.m. and Tapas tastings are at 1:00 p.m.