A Fall Harvest Lunch at the La Crema Vineyard in Russian River Valley

It’s the wine country experience you’ve always dreamed of.

By Camille Styles
vineyard sonoma county

I’ve always dreamed of going to wine country during the fall harvest, and this year I finally got the chance. I co-hosted a group of my favorite San Francisco-based editors and bloggers at the La Crema Estate and vineyard in Sonoma County for a day of incredible food and wine along with soaking up the sunshine against stunning vineyard views. After our delicious lunch in the Estate’s barn and a cooking class with the chef, we meandered around the property and relaxed in that magical afternoon glow that comes during this fleeting season as summer turns to fall. Scroll on for the details of a day – and a place – that gave me so much inspiration for gatherings all season long.

photos by Andrea Posadas

La Crema is nestled within the 200-acre Saralee’s Vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley which produces some of the best grapes in California. The cool climate, varied terrain and diverse soils provide an especially ideal environment for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

It was personally thrilling for me to spend time at the family-owned winery I’ve had the opportunity to work with for several years, and have loved for even longer than that. I was first introduced to La Crema by my father-in-law when Adam and I were dating. Gary was in the wine industry for his decades-long career and naturally is still my go-to expert. At one of our first family gatherings, he opened up a bottle of La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and told me that this was always a good choice when I wanted to pour the good stuff. And ever since, I’ve associated the wine with quality and artisanship — whether I’m pouring it for a special dinner party with friends, or opening up a bottle at home to treat myself after a long week.

Nothing like catching up with old friends under a beautiful oak tree on a perfect early-fall day.

As friends arrived on shuttles from San Francisco, we welcomed them in the vineyards with snacks that showcased the bounty of Sonoma County paired with the different wines; all the produce was straight from the family’s garden manned by Farmer Tucker.

Since I’m usually pouring the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir or the Chardonnay, it was fun to get to experience some of the limited production wines that La Crema makes too. We had the opportunity to hear about the wines and learn some really great tips for tasting and pairing with food from the incredible winemaker, Jen Walsh.

We got a little wine education as we mingled, and it was pretty special to realize that we were tasting wines made with grapes from the vines just a few feet away from us.

Next, we headed into La Crema’s barn for lunch at a beautifully-set long table. The barn sits high up on a knoll overlooking rolling vineyards, and the team has turned it into an incredible tasting room and wine destination with epic views.

Led by Chef Tracey Shepos Cenami, the team created an incredible family-style menu that included:

  • Trout with a Cucumber and Mint Salad
  • Tri-Tip Steak with Corn & Tomato Panzanella with Salsa Verde
  • Beet & Strawberry Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
  • Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil

… and so much more, our plates were literally overflowing.

The menu showcased the most beautiful vegetables from the garden and basically made me want to move to Sonoma asap since we just don’t get produce like this in Texas.

After lunch, we had the chance to get our own hands a little messy in the kitchen, making fall apple galettes with the culinary team!

Between sampling grapes straight from the vine, sipping the wines made right on the property, and indulging in locally-sourced food, the entire day represented what the La Crema Winery is all about – savoring each moment over great conversation and equally great wine!