A Winning Wine Program
It’s been almost six months since Restaurant Manager and Sommelier Elizabeth Cahill made her way to the inn from California’s Napa Valley and Auberge du Soleil, a Relais & Chateaux property noted for its wine program.
Although Elizabeth grew up on the east coast, she’s still figuring out guests’ wine preferences through careful listening and learning–and a bit of good old trial and error.
She finds that inn and restaurant guests are especially fond of Oregon pinot noirs. One guest favorite is pinot from Adelsheim Vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains of Oregon. Its 2018 Willamette Valley vintage displays “bright red cherry and subtle brown baking spice flavors with earth undertones.”
Elizabeth has also been serving a lot of pinots from Big Table Farm, an Oregon winery with Napa roots, and from Ken Wright, one of the oldest and most distinguished crafters of Oregon pinot noir.
Elizabeth’s long tenure in Napa has made her a fan of California pinot noir, which tends to be a bit darker and more purple in color than Oregon pinots. Some of her favorite vineyards include Merry Edwards in the Russian River Valley, Kistler Vineyards in Sonoma, and Kosta Browne, which sources grapes from the Santa Rita Hills, among other AVAs. All of these wines are on the inn’s wine list, which Elizabeth has been refining since she arrived.
While Elizabeth continues to understand eastern tastes in wine, she’s not at all surprised by the level of sophistication guests display about wine. One example is a bit of a cult wine from Jonata, which sources grapes from California’s Central Coast’s Ballard Canyon appellation within the Santa Ynez Valley. She ordered just six bottles, thinking it would be a rare guest who recognized the winemaker. Those six sold quickly and she doubled her next order.
When asked about which wine adventurous oenophiles shouldn’t overlook, Elizabeth quickly points to an Austrian varietal blaufrankisch from winemaker Roland Velich at Moric. Blaufrankisch is an indigenous Austrian grape that has as much finesse and elegance as pinot noir, according to Elizabeth.
As if running the restaurant at the inn and understanding the wine preferences of guests isn’t enough, Elizabeth has also been part of the team renovating and updating the wine cellar at the inn. She reports that after several months of construction, the wine cellar–a favorite guest dining spot for special occasions–is back better than ever, with more wine storage and better lighting than before.
Next time you visit the inn for an overnight stay or dinner, don’t hesitate to ask Elizabeth about her new favorites in the cellar. You won’t be disappointed.