When our friend J.B. announced that he had slaughtered and butchered a lamb (Lucy) and invited us to his friend’s wine release party where it would be prepared four ways, we were in. How could we not?
We picked up our friend Kelly, and headed north to Calistoga. When we arrived at The Observatory, off a remote road northwest of town, we were met with a Champagne welcome, great company, and a great story.
We strongly prefer wines that have a compelling story behind them. There is one man behind Preamble Wines, and his mission is to reignite intelligent discourse about our American heritage around the wine he crafts.
Cody Ewers’s passion for all things philosophical was evident from the party décor—a large American flag draped over the outdoor fireplace, and copies of the Constitution and Federalist Papers placed around the tables. The design on the bottles and print materials is inspired by American Revolution era illustrations and pamphlets.
The wine is fantastic. Since Preamble is a very small production, it’s mostly sold direct to consumer (order here), but we’re told locals might find it at The Bounty Hunter Wine Bar. We tasted everything. The Sauvignon Blanc is deliciously light and fruity. The rose was fantastic (a refreshing wine we’d drink at the beach or by a pool), and the red blend had a perfect balance of fruit and complexity. We also tried a red wine from the prior vintage (2011) and it was drinking incredibly well. Each wine was as delicious on its own as it was with food.
We chatted with J.B. O’Brien and Nathan Britton, the chefs, while they rolled out fresh pita dough with cumin seeds and put it in the wood-fired oven. Appetizers included a house-cured trout dip, pâté made with the lamb’s liver, and gazpacho with fresh tomatoes from the on-site garden.
When Cody announced that sunset was “happening now,” the party moved down the hill, where the sun setting over Mount St. Helena gave new meaning to the phrase “purple mountain majesty.” The sky lit up in fiery shades of red, orange, and yellow. We couldn’t imagine more perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine and revel in the natural beauty of California wine country.
Dinner included beet salad with fennel fronds and flowers, green bean salad, panzanella, roasted zucchini, and of course the lamb. The lamb shoulder was braised and served with pita, yogurt dip, a traditional Mediterranean combination. The leg and loin were basted with oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, and then roasted and served with salsa verde. Everything was delicious. JB and Nathan (friends from culinary school), know what they are doing in the kitchen, which is not at all surprising given their experience at SPQR and Cyrus, respectively. They do pop up diners around the Bay area via Le Chat Méchant. Email Nathan for updates or information on how to set up a dinner.
The Preamble Wine Company’s website includes a quote from George Washington: “My manner of living is plain…a glass of wine and a bit of mutton.” That philosophy was perfectly captured this evening, although I am certain these versions of “mutton” and the Preamble Wines are probably much greater than the simple fare Washington had in mind!