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Knights Valley Reserve cabernet sauvignon was one of several Beringer wines featured at a recent Flora Bar and Kitchen wine dinner.
Knights Valley Reserve cabernet sauvignon was one of several Beringer wines featured at a recent Flora Bar and Kitchen wine dinner. Photo via Facebook/Beringer Vineyards
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Flavor explosion at Flora’s Beringer Reserve wine dinner

At this past week’s Beringer Reserve wine dinner at Flora Bar and Kitchen, John Parker, senior sales manager at Republic National Distributing Company had the quote of the evening.

“Rico, there is Beringer wine and there is Beringer wine,” Parker said.

I knew exactly what he meant. Many of us are used to seeing the bottles of Beringer in our favorite stores.  However, iconic Beringer Vineyards, California’s longest operating winery with 145 years of experience, has some outstanding reserve and private reserve labels that guests enjoyed over dinner.

In 1875, immigrants Jacob and Frederick Beringer purchased 215 acres next to Charles Krug where Jacob was working. Beringer had its first harvest in 1876 and produced a whopping 40,000 gallons or 18,000 cases of wine. This necessitated one of the firsts listed below, the construction of wine caves.

After the brothers passed in the early 1900s, Jacob’s children took over ownership. The new owners quickly became creative during Prohibition when they were awarded a federal license to make wine for religious purposes.

This was stretched a bit when Beringer sold wine outside of the clergy under the Whisper Sister label. Outside of its creativity, Beringer is known for its many firsts. This includes the first gravity-fed facility, creating hand-dug caves to store and age wine, public tours in 1934, and the first and only winery to have both a red and a white wine named No. 1 Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator Magazine.

Jonathan Berg, left, executive chef of The Butcher Shop, and Sal Ercolano, owner of Flora Bar and Kitchen. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Jonathan Berg, left, executive chef of The Butcher Shop, and Sal Ercolano, owner of Flora. Photo by Rico Cassoni

At the beginning of the evening, Sal Ercolano, owner of Flora, shared the exciting news that he recently purchased “The Butcher Shop” restaurant in San Diego’s Kearny Villa area. Executive chef Jonathan Berg will continue in his role and is excited to rework the menu and modernize platings, flatware and wine list with the assistance of Ercolano.

Frank and I look forward to doing a press preview of The Butcher Shop in the upcoming weeks.

Speaking of dining, Ercolano, Parker, and chef Hilario came up with an all-star menu that kicked off with chef mini bites of vegetarian stuffed mushrooms, duck carpaccio on a crostini and salmon with crème fraiche on waffle fried potato paired with 2020 Luminous Chardonnay. The lightness and brightness of the Carneros fruit were a good match-up for the mini bites.

Next up was 2019 Private Reserve Chardonnay served with octopus carpaccio garnished with oregano, parsley and fingerling potatoes. The Reserve Chardonnay was soft and rounded with a floral nose of citrus and honeysuckle. The palate had tropical flavors of pineapple and hints of mango. The wine was rich and balanced with bright acidity and complemented the carpaccio course.

Lamb with mashed potatoes and  root vegetables paired with Beringer 2018 Private Reserve cabernet sauvignon.
Lamb with mashed potatoes and root vegetables paired with Beringer’s 2018 Private Reserve. Photo by Rico Cassoni

For the second course, Hilario served veal and mushroom ravioli with a garlic cream sauce. This was paired with the 2018 Knights Valley Reserve cabernet sauvignon that had great play and interaction with the porcini mushrooms, veal and cream sauce.

The third and main course was slow-braised lamb with mashed potatoes and root vegetables in a red wine reduction. This was paired with the wine star of the evening, the 2018 Private Reserve cabernet sauvignon.

The vanilla and baking spice on the nose, along with plum and black fruit on the palate perfectly melded with the lamb. The 98% cabernet sauvignon is aged for 18 months in 90% new French oak and is a 98-point James Suckling and 97-point Jeb Dunnuck winner. Dinner concluded with Choco Coco (chocolate pudding) served with the 2018 Napa Valley Quantum (Q) red blend.

Learn more about Beringer’s rich history and wines at

Next up for Flora and Ercolano’s team are Duckhorn wine dinners at 6 p.m. on both Wednesday, May 18, and Thursday, May 19. The three-course dinners with appetizers and dessert feature oven-roasted venison in a red wine reduction with scalloped potatoes served with Paraduxx Red Blend. The price is $85 per person plus tax/gratuity. This will be a popular dinner. RSVP early at 858-461-0622.

Wine Bytes

— The California Wine Festival is coming on May 20 and May 21 to the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, where sun, sea, food, wine and music all come together. You won’t want to miss the Sunset Rare and Reserve Wine event on May 20 in the resort’s Palm Courtyard. The Beachside Wine Festival is on May 21 with California’s top wineries and local restaurants. Details and ticket info at

— Paso Wine Fest is back from May 19 through May 21! The much-anticipated return of Paso Wine Fest comes with new twists, including a venue change to the Paso Robles Event Center. One hundred of Paso’s most iconic wineries will be pouring at the 2022 Paso Wine Fest. With live music, educational seminars, a Makers Market, food trucks, and plenty of delicious Paso Robles wines. Find information and tickets at