There are many reasons to celebrate this coming Independence Day. For one, as of the end of June, 66% of Americans have one vaccine shot, and 57% are fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times, and mask mandates have lifted around the country. Translation: the parties are on. We hope you take this time to reflect on the past year, on what you’re grateful for, and certainly hope you lift a glass to the Founding Fathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence, which was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776.
To help inspire your celebrations and family reunions, three of our Foley Family Winemakers have shared what special wines they plan to open and what food they plan to pair with those wines. So, here’s to the red, white, and bubbly weekend ahead, and hey—we want to hear from you! Don’t forget to tag us in your social posts! Follow the Foley Food & Wine Society on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Cheers!
Greg Freeman, Winemaker, Chalone Vineyards
Greg Freeman (Chalone Vineyards): I’m having local musician friends over for a backyard jam, music, and food fest. I play the guitarist and am a bagpiper! I anticipate the weather being hot, but being in Carmel, not too hot, so I’m planning to open a 2020 Pinot Blanc and a 2019 Syrah, both from Chalone Vineyard.
The Pinot Blanc is big and luscious, has the body of a big Chardonnay with the oak and butter component, very satisfying wine, and refreshing to boot, nice acidity, and clean fresh aromas. The Syrah is for when the steak comes off the grill, the fatty meat will pair perfectly with the cool-climate Syrah, fresh red berries, white pepper, and raspberries. Dark inky and immensely opulent aromas, grippy tannins! Yum! [Editor’s note: the Pinot Blanc is currently unavailable, however, the 2017 Syrah ($40) and 2017 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir ($55) are up for grabs!]
My go-to meal is something from the grill, including corn on the cob and asparagus—fresh produce from a local organic source is the best way to have an amazing healthy sustainable meal that everyone loves. I plan to cook bone-in ribeyes. This tends to be a fatty cut with tons of flavor, and expensive, but it is a special occasion, so I go big. The Chalone Syrah will be perfect with this dish. The corn is sweet and the asparagus is crisp and fresh—both with butter and sea salt is all it takes. If I can score a bottle of Lincourt Pinot Noir by the Fourth, I will have that, too. My fave!
Mark Beaman, Winemaker, Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery.
Mark Beaman (Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery): I am going to pop open a bottle of chilled 2017 Chenin Blanc Method Champenoise sparkling I made while I was at Maui Wine. Unfortunately, abalone season has been closed, which cancels my first pairing choice. My backup is if I can find fresh ahi tuna I would make a traditional Hawaiian poke with sesame seeds and a drop of sesame oil, mild ginger, lemon juice, avocado, and low sodium Shoyu [soy sauce].
We also recommend the 2019 Sebastiani Sémillon ($30) sourced from the Lyon Vineyard near the Russian River Valley in northern Alexander Valley. Crisp orchard fruit with pops of citrus and a streak of minerality make this an ideal pairing for poke, or sushi-grade ahi tuna.
Gio Verdejo, Winemaker, Foley Johnson
Gio Verdejo (Foley Johnson): First up, I plan to open a bottle of Foley Johnson 2019 Sauvignon Blanc ($24), because as the temperature begins to near 90 degrees (I’m certain it will), nothing is better than refreshing, low alcohol, citrusy Sauv Blanc to sip on while getting the grill going.
For dinner, I will open a 2017 Foley Johnson Peral Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($120, 91 Points, Wine Spectator), the big round and velvety tannins will pair amazingly with any red meat.
And I love to prepare red meat on the grill. I’ll have a Ribeye roast, which I love to slow cook on my Weber kettle, marinated in a butter mix with rosemary, thyme, garlic pepper, and sea salt, grilling on indirect heat at around 250 degrees for roughly 1-1.5 hrs (per pound)—my mouth is watering as I write this!