There is nothing better than a great pairing of food and wine, and the folks at the Jones Creek Clubhouse provided that with excellent food and wine from Ketcham Estate.

It was great fun for me because it was the second time in a week I was able to participate in a Ketcham Estate wine dinner. Owner Allie Ketcham was in town for a few days, and it seemed like every stop was a roaring success.

The 40 or so people at the Clubhouse had a great time, laughing and talking and raving about the food and wine. My wife Teri and I joined a table full of interesting people and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. That’s one of the fun things about these wine dinners: you get to meet new people with a shared interest in good food and wine.

For some it was their first experience with Ketcham Estate, and others knew the wines well. Ketcham Estate is a woman-owned and managed boutique winery and estate vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. The winery has 13 acres of vineyards along the Russian River, growing five Pinot Noir clones. They get grapes for their white wines from neighboring vineyards.

Columbia County homebuilder Mark Herbert was the host for the evening and introduced Allie Ketcham. Herbert rescued the Clubhouse from bankruptcy nearly two years ago and reopened the restaurant, which is now open Tuesday-Sunday. The kitchen is run by Katerwerks, which also does catering. Judging by the food at the wine dinner, they can produce some great meals, including a seafood special every Friday.

The evening started with some sparkling wine as people chatted in small groups and got to know each other. Then it was on to the main event.


Course one

Beet and goat cheese salad
Paired with Allie’s Reserve Russian River Pinot Noir</strong

Each of the five wines we tasted was outstanding, and each paired well with the food. But we may have started out with the best wine of the evening.

Allie said the wine is the best of the best lots of Pinot Noir they grow. “I love the viscosity, the texture,” she said. “Smell the wine and see what it brings to mind.”

The lovely floral aroma with a toasty oak leads to complex blackberry and spice flavors. It’s a complex, bright, elegant wine that likely will age well for several years.

Allie blends this wine with two other women from what they identify as the 10 best barrels of wine they produce. Then the wine is aged in a mix of new and used barrels.

Teri especially loved the salad, with large, juicy slices of beets with sprinkles of goat cheese. Even Mark, who said he went outside his comfort zone to try the salad, said he loved it.

Course Two
Seared Scallops served with a citrus beurre blanc
Paired with Ketcham Estate Russian River Viognier

The scallops were spectacular, possibly the best dish of the evening. Crisply seared scallops were serve with a tasty citrus sauce.

The wine pairing could not have been better. Floral and citrus aromas lead to complex flavors of pear, citrus and honey. The wine has great backbone and stands up well to many types of food. Viognier is an outstanding grape that originated in France, but is growing in popularity in California. The Ketcham Estate version is one of my favorites, with its smooth, silky mouthfeel.

If you are a die-hard Chardonnay drinker, you need to try Viognier. It will give you a new appreciation for what great winemakers can do with a white wine.

Course Three
Beef-pot-au-Feu
Paired with Ketcham Vineyard Pinot Noir

This course was similar to an elegant pot pie, with traditionally braised beef cooked with leeks and carrots. It was delicious and served in a tasty crust.

The wine is Ketcham’s Old World Burgundian style.

“This is the book club wine,” said Allie, “the wine I open night after night. It’s just delicious.”

The grapes come from the oldest block on the property, a Pommard-4 clone. Allie said the clone produces delicious grapes that are super concentrated in flavor. The Ketcham wine made from them is made in the Old World Burgundian style, which is leaner and less fruit driven.

Sweet spices and minerals on the nose lead to flavors of cherry, chocolate and ripe berry. It has a smooth, juicy mouthfeel.

Course Four
Herb-roasted lamb chops with blackberry gastrique, wild rice and brown butter carrots
Paired with Ketcham Estate Cab Renee 2018

I love lamb, and this dish featured two tasty chops over a bed of wild rice and baby carrots. It was delicious and beautifully presented. But all the dishes looked beautiful and tasted great.

It seemed odd to pair Cabernet Sauvignon with lamb, because I usually associate Pinot Noir with lamb, and Ketcham is known for their Pinots. But it was an inspired pairing. The dark, rich fruits and velvety texture perfectly matched the juicy lamb.

This was the first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Ketcham. Allie’s late husband Mark, who founded the winery, had wanted to make Cab for some time, but since he didn’t grow any he had to wait until they could buy grapes he wanted.

The found fruit from the acclaimed Saini Ranch in Alexander Valley, the original grower for Silver Oak Winery. This vineyard has a long and strong history of providing world-class grapes to Sonoma County wineries. 

When the wine was blended, Allie said it was good, but she wanted spectacular. She turned to family friend Mark Sherwin. He added five percent of what he calls “rocket fuel,” five percent Merlot and five percent Petite Sirah. The result really is spectacular.

The wine is named after Allie’s friend, Renee Graves, who also is the director of happiness for the winery.

Course Five
Poached pears served with mascarpone cream and rose syrup
Paired with Ketcham Estate Savahhah’s Rosé di Pinot Noir

This was another inspired pairing. I don’t usually think of Rosé with dessert, but it worked perfectly. A pear half was served on a bed of cream with the syrup drizzled over it.

The pear was delicious, but not overly sweet, which was perfect with the dry Rosé, also not too sweet. On the palate I picked up flavors of raspberry and blood orange. It is fresh and bright, and very refreshing. There is plenty of rich fruit in this dry Rosé.

It was a fun evening, full of great food, great wine and interesting people. Most people seemed like they wanted to linger and not let the evening end.

Ketcham Estates has 13 acres of vineyards along the Russian River, growing five Pinot Noir clones. They get grapes for their white wines from neighboring vineyards.

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