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victor magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s, recently spotlighted the best of Napa Valley’s Frank Family wines plus a bevy of reps direct from the winery and Frank distributors in the SoCal market. Photo by Frank Mangio
victor magalhaes, owner of Vittorio’s, recently spotlighted the best of Napa Valley’s Frank Family wines plus a bevy of reps direct from the winery and Frank distributors in the SoCal market. Photo by Frank Mangio
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Vittorio’s spotlights Frank Family, Dry Creek wineries

As I entered the large banquet room at Vittorio’s in the Carmel Valley area of San Diego, seating well over 100 lovers of Frank Family wines, I couldn’t help but think of the many friendships that have developed at these Vittorio’s events.

Clearly this venue had drawn together wine and food lovers who have bonded together over the years and had reached out to become regulars on a first name basis, unlike any other wine event that I had ever been a part of.

Vittorio’s owner, Victor Magalhaes, likes it this way. It’s kind of a “Cheers” atmosphere where customers trade wine stories, lots of wine is raffled off and the latest host wines are offered at up to 50% off retail.

Frank Family, last week’s host winery, has been a fave of mine forever! It recently was awarded the 2022 Readers Choice Best of Napa Valley Award from Napa Valley Life magazine as the BEST Winery Tasting Room.

“Frank Family’s iconic tasting room has been a part of Napa Valley’s landscape for nearly 30 years,” the magazine said. “Both classic and contemporary, their home for guests embodies the spirit of family, offering a range of intimate, seated experiences inside their yellow 1930’s craftsman house and throughout the park-like property.”

Before Frank Family, Rich Frank was part of the fast and exciting world of Walt Disney, responsible for the company’s wildly successful entrance into TV documentaries and movies made for television.

On this special evening at Vittorio’s, we were treated to a 2021 chardonnay, paired with a shrimp and crab combination laced with avocado and chives; a glam 2019 pinot noir to wash down a slow roasted salmon with creamy risotto and asparagus; a 2019 merlot that created the biggest buzz from diners when paired with baked mostaccioli plus ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, and finally, the Frank Family signature wine, a 2019 cabernet sauvignon perfectly mated with grilled lamb lollipops, smoked Gouda polenta and broccolini with rosemary sauce.

Next month, it will be “A Night in Italy” wine dinner at 6 p.m. on November 17. Don’t miss it! Visit frankfamilyvineyards.com.

— Story by Frank Mangio.

Dry Creek Vineyards Recap

With a dream to live overseas, David Stare, founder Dry Creek Vineyards, moved to Germany after completing his civil engineering degree at MIT and earning an MBA at Northwestern.

In Germany, he developed a love for wine and after returning to the U.S. in 1969 and going to France for two weeks, where he fell in love with French wines, he was destined to pack up the family and head west to California to start his wine career.

Stare excelled in winemaking classes at UC Davis and during a weekend school trip, purchased a 55-acre prune orchard in Dry Creek Sonoma County to fulfill his wine career dream.

Grilled venison chop paired with 2019 Dry Creek Mariner Bordeaux blend. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Grilled venison chop paired with 2019 Dry Creek Mariner Bordeaux blend. Photo by Rico Cassoni

With fond memories of sauvignon blanc from his time in Loire Valley, France, Stare took a chance planting this varietal despite specialists advising that Sauvignon Blanc was not suitable for the region. He proved the specialists wrong. Stare was later joined by his daughter Kim who originally wanted to work in the fashion industry.

Together with her husband Don Wallace, they have taken Dry Creek to the next level, after David’s retirement in 2006, consistently producing 90+ point wines.

Elise Wright, wine warehouse sales rep, narrated the evening walking guests through the customary five-course dinner starting with Tuna Carpaccio paired with the 50th vintage of the 2021 Chenin Blanc, providing a clean, crisp minerality that completed the carpaccio.

Next up was Grilled Chicken Roulade with 2021 sauvignon blanc, the varietal that put Dry Creek on the map for a great reason. The floral nose with peach and tropical flavors on the palate matched up with the roulade. The third course was Manicotti with Lamb Ragu commanding a red, the 2019 Zinfandel. The complexity of the 100-year-old zin vines complemented the rich ragu.

The main course was a heavenly Grilled Venison chop garnished with a blackberry sauce. The 2019 Mariner Bordeaux Blend paired perfectly with the chop and reduction. Great dinner, Victor, Vittorio’s Team and Elise.  More at drycreekvineyard.com.

— Story by Rico Cassoni

Wine Bytes

— Time is running out to purchase tix for the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival.  This is San Diego’s largest Wine and Food Festival and was named the winner of the 2019 USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice for Best General Food Festival.  The largest crowds will be at the Grand Decant, Grand Tasting, and Grand Fiesta respectively on Fri 11/11, Sat 11/12, and Sun 11/13.  General Admission and VIP tickets can be purchased at sandiegowineclassic.com.

—Temecula’s De Portola Wine Trail is holding this year’s Harvest Fest on Sunday 11/6 from 10AM to 5PM.  Come out and enjoy wines from 10 participating wineries celebrating their 2022 harvest season.  Cost is $79.99 per tix+tax.  There is also a Designated Driver (food only) tix for $39+tax.  Purchase tickets at bit.ly/DPHF22 or 855-398-9463.

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