By Thayne Cockrum
Well, low and behold, a pig flew at Wine on America’s Table. Not a real one, but an intimidating sculpted metal pig that adorns the top of Cochon Volant’s custom built oven. WWS said pigs would fly, but I didn’t actually believe I’d see one. The event delivered on all other promises as well. The wine – delicious, food-scrumptious, and the vineyard alfresco dining – perfect.
Upon arrival, we maneuvered our vehicle past the main house to the vineyard where we parked our car alongside rows of vines, with grapes hinting that veraison is on its way. Underneath a giant tree between the Luchtel’s home and the vineyard, guests mingled about with wine glasses in hand. We began our afternoon with a pour of Sivas-Sonoma 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, a very clean and crisp summer sipper. As appetizers of gulf shrimp skewers and mini BLTs on broche toast floated around the party guests tasted the second wine of the afternoon, Fortunati’s Rose of Syrah.
Amid the noshing, Gary and Ellen Luchtel spoke about the history of their vineyard and winemaking. The property sounded rather scary when stumbling upon it in the 1990s, but desire and passion for winemaking led them to leave their city life, doorman and all, for more Green Acres-style living. What is now covered in beautiful rows of vines was once cluttered with a run-down house, overgrown weeds and a junked car or two.
Next came the food. As a southerner, I’m pretty picky about my BBQ, and Cochon Volant did not disappoint. Smoked using almond wood (Grill Master Rob says there’s no hickory in these parts), we dined on smoked chicken, ribs, and brisket. I put a good helping of everything on my plate and left not a trace. Paired with the delicious meats, we sipped on Cuvaison 2009 Pinot Noir and Fortunati 2007 Vinto and for me, more Rose. (One of my favorite combinations: BBQ and Rose). Not to be upstaged by the main course, the dessert, a blueberry and white peach crisp with Chantilly Crème Anglaise had my sweet tooth singing the rest of the evening.
Other enjoyable activities included a vineyard talk with Gary Luchtel, summer dining tips by Sommelier Barbara Paige, more wine tasting of Fortunati’s other wines, and the always-exciting WWS Scholarship Fund auction table and raffle (which raised more than $1000 for the annual fund drive, helping WWS exceed their annual fundraising goal). Unfortunately, I did not win a single thing, but not wanting to go home empty-handed, I did leave with a half case of Fortunati wines.