Pinoli Cucina Rustica: New Restaurant Opens in Guerneville!


Disclosure: I was invited out for a food preview of Pinoli Cucina Rustica.  This was my experience.

If anyone’s been paying attention, Guerneville is an area of Sonoma County that is booming with some incredible restaurants.  As more and more chefs are finding the beauty in this sleepy, little Russian River, wine country town. And as a traveler, it’s a destination that should be on your map.

Chef-Christian-Darcoli

One such Chef is Christian Darcoli, owner of Pinoli Ristorante in San Juan, Puerto Rico and now, the owner of Pinoli Cucina Rustica Restaurant at the beautiful and historic Applewood Inn.  The restaurant just opened this past May and will feature fresh, farm to table, Italian Rustica dishes with a bit of Mediterranean flair.

Pinoli-Cucina-Rustica

As you walk in, you may notice something a little bit different about this restaurant, and that’s that the Chefs, are the ones greeting you, and hosting you as you enter the restaurant.  Here, they will be running the back of the house along with the front of house. “I feel that it is very important for our chefs to have the opportunity to interact directly with our guests.  Allowing them to run the front-of-house as well as the back, gives them the opportunity to welcome our guests into the restaurant, share their love for and knowledge about the food that we create, and ensures that they earn a decent wage that allows them to live comfortably.  I look forward to the staff working together cohesively to make and serve incredible food, and experiencing first hand exactly how much their guests enjoy the meals that they prepare.” said Christian Darcoli.

Pinoli-cucina-patio

Chef Darcoli, truly believes in the farm to table movement, and feels wine country, is a great place to bring this to life with farms minute from his restaurant, to the fresh fish caught daily off the Bodega Bay.  At the Applewood Inn, they have a garden right on sight where they pull fresh ingredients from daily to create some of his recipes.

homemade-bread

Chef Darcoli also brings in some of his favorite things from his past, including his homemade bread, made fresh daily, and inspired by his Italian Roots, he was born in the Gastronomic Mecca of San Remo, along the Mediterranean North Coast of Italy.

Frittole

And also, bringing in some of his family favorites too, such as his homemade dessert Frittole-Italian Fritters, which was his grandmother’s recipe.

By the end of your meal, you will be truly satisfied by everything you just enjoyed.  Details are put into every dish from Salads to Appetizers to Entrees to Dessert.  Just see some of the beautiful creations below:

Endive

Endive with Lemon, Orange, Taggiasca Olives, and Bottarga

Salad

One of the Salad Offerings

Lamb

Lamb Loin with Eggplant and a Smoked Pepper Sauce

Strawberries

Strawberries with Mascarpone, Black Pepper and Balsamic Reduction

Needless to say, you will be delighted by the meal provided.

Pinoli Cucina Rustica will serve farm to table lunches throughout the summer, and will be open for dinner daily from 5pm – 9pm.

Applewood-Inn

About the Applewood Inn: Opened in 1985.  This upscale, bed and breakfast, is host to just 19 rooms, offering the perfect quaint little getaway in wine country.

The Belden House, the original structure of this premier Sonoma Wine Country Inn, was built in 1922 in the Mission Revival architectural style.  Transformed into a luxury bed and breakfast in 1985 it has been declared a Sonoma County Historic Landmark.
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An Inside Look: Niven Family Wine Estates


A stop into Edna Valley AVA isn’t complete without a visit to the tasting room of Baileyana and Tangent Wines.  Their tasting room is housed in an old, one room schoolhouse built in 1909, where some Wine Club Members within the area even went to school here, at one point. The tasting room sits across the street from their historic Paragon Vineyard that was planted by Jack Niven in 1973.

Niven Family Wine Estates: 

5828 Orcutt Road

Niven-Family-Wine-Estates

Their Tasting Room which is housed in an old 1909 Schoolhouse!

You may not recognize the name of Niven Family Wine Estates, but they have been around since the 1970’s, and were part of the planting of the well known Paragon Vineyard within the Edna Valley AVA.  Jack Niven was the one who petitioned for the Edna Valley to become their own AVA, back in 1982. Needless to say, a visit to Edna Valley isn’t complete until a visit to their tasting room.

But, you may know the wines of Niven Family Wine Estates as Baileyana, Tangent, True Myth and Zocker Wines.  Ring a bell, now? At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the brands and labels of wines available, but by the end of my tasting, I completely understood why they did it, and it made perfect sense to me.

So, lets break it down for you: They grow 11 Different Varietals of Wine out of their Estate Grown Paragon Vineyards.

Baileyana:

Baileyana-Firepeak-Pinot

The Baileyana Wines were created to showcase the beauty of Edna Valley, in particular with their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals.  You will find very classic style wines in these labels, that really showcase the area.

Wines include:

Baileyana Firepeak Chardonnay

Baileyana Firepeak Pinot Noir

Baileyana Rose of Pinot Noir

Tangent Wines:

Tangent was created to have an area that truly showcased their more crisp white wines.  For fans, like myself, who enjoy a nice, crisp wine, you will truly fall in love with the Tangent Wine Brand. These are also great wines to try if you’re looking to taste something other than Chardonnay or Pinot Noir off the Edna Valley Wine Trail.

And, these crisp, white wines, are just the wines you’ll be looking for this summer.

Wines include:

Sauvignon Blanc

Albarino

Tangent-Albarino

Pinot Gris

Viognier

Grenache Blanc

I was pretty excited to try the Albarino, the day was beginning to heat up a little, so that Albarino came out at the perfect time, and the crispness was what I got right off the bat.  It made me excited about the Tangent brand.  I’m also pretty excited to see they have a Grenache Blanc available, if you  have yet to try a Grenache Blanc, I’d recommend the Tangent Brand as a good starting point. These wines stay true to the reason they created them: their crispness.

True Myth Wines:

Every time I see a bottle of True Myth Wines, I am fascinated by their Wine Label, but after visiting their site, I am fascinated by their story:

True-Myth-Wines

Opening lines: “In our location on California’s Central Coast, we are eternally awestruck by the magic of her omnipresent influence; from the dry heat of the vineyards in Paso Robles, to the coastal influence on our vineyards in Edna Valley, our grapes are grown just a few miles from one of her greatest creations, the deep, blue Pacific Ocean. We respect Mother Nature for the enigma that she is, and honor her by creating wines of quality and flavor that mirror her splendor. Join us as we continue on this journey. Taste and Believe.”

True Myth is a new take on the legacy that was built by Jack Niven. The family is now striving to create a fresh new vision for the longstanding quality of the region (Edna Valley).

Wines include:

Chardonnay: Another classic Chardonnay out of their Estate Grown Paragon Vineyard. Retail Value: 18.00

Cabernet Sauvignon: This Caberenet actually comes out of Paso Robles, a region which is becoming well known for their distinct Cabernet Sauvignons.  The retail on this will BLOW you away: 24.00

Zocker Wines:

The Zocker was the first label that caught my attention when I walked into the tasting room, because it was unique.  The Niven Family knew it was their riskiest venture yet, but that didn’t stop them:

“German for “Gambler,” Zocker began as the Niven Family’s riskiest venture yet. Our rare but extremely food-friendly Grüner Veltliner and our unique approach to Riesling are the essence of unconventional. The risk paid off: Zocker, all estate grown at our Paragon Vineyard, has been highly praised and recognized in worldwide wine competitions.”

I just had to try their Gruner Veltliner to start off my day:

Zocker-Wines

The Zocker Brand also has a Riesling available.

 

I truly enjoyed my visit at Niven Family Wine Estates, and I think you will too.  The next time you take a visit to Pismo Beach or San Luis Obispo, be sure to plan an afternoon of wine tasting in Edna Valley, and make a visit here a must on your list.

Paragon Vineyard

A brief glimpse at the historic Paragon Vineyard Across from the Tasting Room!

About Edna Valley AVA:

The Edna Valley AVA is located just south of the town of San Luis Obispo and North of the town of Arroyo Grande, and about 5.2 miles East of Pismo Beach, California.  Because of the close proximity to the ocean, these breezes help cool the climate down, making the area a great growing region for cool climate wines, exactly why Chardonnay and Pinot Noir excel so well in this region.  The region was originally planted in the early 19th century by Spanish Missionaries, but saw its revival in the 1970’s with the plantings of the Paragon and Chamiscal Vineyards.  The region became it’s own AVA in 1982, formed by the proprietors at Edna Valley Vineyard (The Niven Family.)

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Kynsi Winery: Within Edna Valley


A few weeks ago I took a Central Coast California Road Trip, and spent some time exploring some of my favorite areas of California.

One area I hadn’t explored too much was around Pismo Beach, and since I had explored a lot of the Paso Robles region, it was time to focus a little more south in San Luis Obispo, particularly in the Edna Valley AVA.

The Edna Valley AVA is located just south of the town of San Luis Obispo and North of the town of Arroyo Grande, and about 5.2 miles East of Pismo Beach, California.  Because of the close proximity to the ocean, these breezes help cool the climate down, making the area a great growing region for cool climate wines, exactly why Chardonnay and Pinot Noir excel so well in this region.  The region was originally planted in the early 19th century by Spanish Missionaries, but saw its revival in the 1970’s with the plantings of the Paragon and Chamiscal Vineyards.  The region became it’s own AVA in 1982, formed by the proprietors at Edna Valley Vineyard (The Niven Family.)

My day started off with a tasting at Kynsi Winery:

Kynsi Winery:

2212 Corbett Canyon Road

Kynsi_Winery

Upon first entrance, I knew I was truly going to enjoy my day in Edna Valley.  The small town charm, of California SLO Living was front and center throughout the Edna Valley.  EXACTLY why I love getting out to these smaller, wine regions, that still make incredibly GREAT wine.

I explored the grounds a little bit then walked into the entrance of Kynsi Winery, which felt like a great backyard space, perfect for an afternoon of sipping wine.  The grounds of Kynsi Winery use to be an old Dairy, and some parts of the winery still had that touch including their backyard barn:

Kynsi_Winery-Barn

And the barn, truly, was where part of the tale of Kynsi Winery was born.  When they first purchased the property, there was a major gopher problem, and they soon found out that Barn Owls were their #1 predator.  They eventually installed two perches near the barn, and a nesting pair eventually found their new home, and guess what?  The gophers slowly began to disappear!

And that is why Kynsi Winery (which meals Talon in Finnish) has a Barn Owl as their mascot for their winery, and the barn still sits beautifully on their property.

To get my spring day started I had the option of doing a mixed flight or a flight that focused on just reds.  Since we were just nearing the beginning of summer, I knew a mixed flight was the place to start:

Kynsi-Rose

Kynsi Winery focuses on their Pinot Noirs, so it only made since that they would have a Pinot Noir Rose available just in time for summer.  This Rose retails around 24.00, which is priced right for a Rose. Very refreshing to start with, and perfect for these hot summer days.

After the Rose tasting, I also tried out their 2015 Chardonnay, before diving into their Red Wines, and in particular their Pinot Noirs.

The two wines that really stood out for me during my tasting were these:

Nocturnum

The 2013 Nocturnum: which was a Red Blend of Grenache and Pinot Noir. Definitely a wine you could drink straight from the glass, but a wine that would excel with food. And a wine you could just sit smelling for hours.  Retail value: 39.00

And my absolute favorite was:

The 2013 Pinot Noir from the Bien Nicido Vineyard (out of Santa Maria Valley). This wine really showcases how they excel in producing Pinot Noir wines, the spice and cherry notes really stood out to me in this well balanced Pinot Noir. Retail value: 45.00

It was a great start to my day in Edna Valley,  and a great introduction in seeing how well Pinot Noir excels in this region.

 

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