If you are considering a food and wine tour of Italy, Spain, or Southern France this summer, here is a good local primer without the airfare: The Amador Four Fires celebration on Saturday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the county’s fairgrounds in Plymouth.
The event quickly has become the Sierra Foothill’s ultimate food and wine event. The concept brings together the flavors of the above three countries plus California in a flavor-filled day. Featuring close to 200 Amador County wines, the gathering combines them with regional food pairings, seminars, music and open flame cookery. Some of the area’s top chefs demonstrate their skills preparing dishes native to the fregions. Think huge pans of simmering paella with Amador Albarino, Grenache or Tempranillo. Picture yourself on the French Mediterranean tasting herb-encrusted lamb on a spit with Syrah or Cinsault. Think Italian while enjoying bistecca fiorenza with a local Sangiovese or Barbera. Or sample open pit barbeque whole tri-tips and venison with some of the Shenandoah Valley’s prized Zinfandel.
Another highlight is the lineup of seminars. New for 2017 is a panel of wine experts including Sara Schneider of Sunset Magazine, Jim Gordon of Wine Enthusiast, David Glancy of the SF Wine School, Bob Bath of the Culinary Institute of America. They take the stage at noon for a special one-hour discussion on how to taste wine better, and how to taste better wine, with an audience Q&A session.
Another presentation that got my attention is a panel of beer and wine experts debating food pairings. The panel of experts includes “Big Mike” Moore, a national beer judge; Scott Harvey: winemaker & owner of Scott Harvey Wines; Will Pritchard, brewer & owner of Amador Brewing Company; and Tracey Berkner (Moderator), owner of Restaurant Taste, a James Beard Award winner.
Throughout the day are informal chats and chef cooking demos. Other sessions include Renwood Winery’s sensory station featuring barrel woods, soils, and other origins of wine scents, “Wine Tasting 101: Sip, Swirl, and Smell,” by G. M. Pucilowski, Certified Wine Educator, “Winemaker’s Choice: What moves us” with winemakers Joe Shebl and Chris Leamy, and “Wine & Food Pairings: There are no rules” with sommelier Phil Werfelmann.
Tickets are $80 in advance, $85 at the door. For tickets and more information, visit amadorfourfires.com.
Tom Bender is a wine instructor at Columbia College and wine steward for O’Brien’s Market in Modesto.