With Al Fresco season upon us, I thought I’d share a few entertaining tips for hosting your own outdoor wine tasting. I feel that culinary pleasure and entertaining with friends and family refreshes the soul, revives the spirit, and creates new memories!
This is a perfect time of year to lean toward lighter wines. I recommend our 2014 Notre Vue Estate White Wine, a beautiful blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. Perfect with Brie cheese, this wine is also an excellent accompaniment to sautéed sole and seared scallops. I would also suggest our 2017 Balverne Rosé of Pinot Noir Reserve, which is fabulous with a fresh goat cheese salad, as well as shrimp, crab or lobster.
Now the fun part begins – setting the table! I start with a fresh, white tablecloth, with a burlap runner. Staging your buffet table, roll crisp white napkins, tied with raffia or twine, with a sprig of lavender tucked into the tie. For nibbles, create different heights with 2 or 3-tiered serving platters. For a simple, outdoorsy feel, mason jars are a nice alternative to use for your floral arrangements.
Setting the ambiance with white bulb string lights and various heights of white (unscented) votives along with your favorite play list will get your guests glowing and relaxed.
Have your all-purpose wine glasses staged and ready to go. You’ll also want to have chilled water nearby, and plain water crackers to cleanse the palate. When pouring tastes of wine for guests, a good rule of thumb is a 2 -ounce pour for each tasting, but feel free to indulge with a bit more.
Feel free to share photos of YOUR Al Fresco Wine Tasting Party on our social media channels. We’d love to see your ideas too!
Executive Vice President, Notre Vue Estate
I learned that this weekend as Pam Bell from Dragonfly Floral patiently coached a group of twenty visitors (including myself and my colleague Tyffani) through the design of a Mother's Day bouquet, while Pete from Notre Vue Estate refilled our wine glasses with exquisite tastings of Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and a white blend.
Sitting on the tasting deck, overlooking the pond swimming with geese and goslings, we learned how to trim, set, and arrange our flowers. That view, coupled with the fresh smell of roses and lavender, gave the whole experience an extraordinary feel. We even had some caterpillars join us for the fun!
Pam Bell has been in the floral design business for nearly thirty years. She calls flowers by name, and has an eye for placing stems perfectly in the vase. As we drank our wine and designed our own arrangements, Pam let us in on a few secrets of the business. Here are some tips we learned from her!
Pam's Tips on Floral Design:
• Always use fresh flowers, when possible, and preferably ones that haven't opened up yet
• Cut your flowers early in the morning, when the world is just waking up; the sugar balance in the plant is best
• Cut flowers at an angle, and place them immediately into water, so that they last longer
• Design your arrangement from the top and sides. This way, the bouquet will reflect its beauty from any angle!
• If working with hydrangeas, flip them over and soak them in water when they start looking lifeless; they'll come back to life
• When using a vase, try to use one with a flare at the top; the flowers naturally bloom that way!
• Use the ratio 2:3; 2-3 greens per every 3 flowers
To view more fabulous photos
of the event, please check out our
Floral Design & Wine Photo Gallery!
Here is the design that we worked with, and its accompanying recipe:
• 3 stems of dogwood
• 3 strands of viburnum
• 2 sparrieshoop (roses)
• 3 tulips
• 4-5 pinkish-orange roses
• 3 sprigs of lavender
Thank you Pam Bell and Notre Vue Estate for an incredible start to our Mother's Day celebrations. Looking forward to the next one!
Thank you for joining us for Winter WINEland last weekend - the perfect winter escape to taste current vintages and multiple varitals along Wine Road – Northern Sonoma County! Participants got to taste current releases of both Balverne and our exclusive, limited production Notre Vue Wines in our transformed Winter 'Wineland' tasting room. Click on the image to view photos from the event. We look forward to seeing you again soon!
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