Lisa & Livi’s Extraordinary Adventure in Sonoma: A Day of Touring and Tasting at SIMI Winery with Luke and Chef Vazzoler!

Come See and Taste how SIMI Wines reflect the family’s 135 year history of wine-making from the stunningly beautiful terrior of Sonoma at SIMI Winery!




This past spring, I had the privilege of interviewing and writing an article about SIMI Winery and Chef Kolin Vazzoler of SIMI ‘s Kitchen at 2013 Austin Food and Wine Festival. I was so dazzled by the wines and Chef Vazzoler’s artistic pairings, I wanted to visit Sonoma as soon as possible to enjoy his pairings again! I had no idea that a few months later I would be invited to one of the most amazing wine & food adventures I’ve had so far!

Part I of my amazing adventure was the day Livi (Olivia my friend & sister-in-law) and I spent at SIMI Winery. We were greeted by our host, Luke McCloud, Senior Wine Educator and Customer Relations Manager at SIMI. Luke was the best! His expert knowledge of SIMI’s history, their wines and his amazing and fun personality made for an unforgettable day at the winery.

Luke McCloud and Chef Vazzoler so graciously walked us through a day of exquisite wine tastings and pairings!


Livi and Luke toasting to a our day of learning, laughs and wine-drinking!


There is such rich history behind the wine. If you haven’t yet had a chance to visit, check out SIMI Winery’s website and get a glimpse into the past that has made SIMI what it is today!

Find out how you can make SIMI YOUR place to visit!


Harvest Day!

We just happened to be visiting SIMI on the first day of harvest! It was a privilege to be in the midst of such a special event and to meet the artists/Rock Stars behind the wine!


Perfectly ripe Gewürztraminer just happened to be the first varietal out.



Once picked, the grapes are ready begin their journey from grape to glass!


Well, I have to tell you how was excited to meet the “Rock Stars” of SIMI Winery. EVERYONE was  there for the blessing of the harvest to celebrate and toast to another successful year!

Steve Reeder, General Manager and V.P. of Winemaking, is somewhat of “rock star” of wines being one of the “co-conspirators” with Dave Matthews for some of my favorite go-to wines: Dreaming Tree Wines.

IMG_3072 2




I also had the pleasure of meeting, Susan LuekerDirector of Winemaking at SIMI.


And, Megan Schofield,Winemaker for SIMI.

This trio is definitely the “ROCK STAR” power team of SIMI Winery. They work together in harmony to make outstanding wines in Sonoma that all began over 135 years ago and still going strong!



We toured the winery and learned how it begins with Harvest Day and ends up as some of the best wines from Sonoma.


Being somewhat of a wine geek/scientist, I thought this was so interesting to see how all of the necessary components of the wines are carefully tested and balanced to bring us the best quality in wines today.




After our long tour, we were thirsty! Good thing, because we were treated to a tasting of SIMI wines, some of which were not yet released and wines that can only be purchased at the winery. We enjoyed every drop while Luke was educating us on the wines and Chef Vazzoler was putting the finishing touches on our most-anticipated lunch.


As you can see, we drank crisp and floral 2012 SIMI Pinot Gris, fruity and luscious 2010 SIMI Chardonnay and  SIMI Rosé that was lively with hint of strawberry and citrus.





And, this IS what I had been waiting for since April 2013 Austin Food & Wine Festival. I am about to experience another of Chef Vazzoler’s perfect pairings with Luke and Livi!


Having enjoyed Chef Vazzoler’s culinary masterpieces at the  2013 Austin Food & Wine Festival, I knew that this was going to be an unforgettable pairing that I would not soon forget and he did NOT disappoint!

Our first course was a garden-fresh salad composed of Cherry Tomatoes, Green Beans, Feta and Basil paired with 2011 SIMI Sonoma County Chardonnay.



The second course of Farm Egg Raviolo with Smoked Ricotta was also paired with the 2011 SIMI Chardonnay. Chef Vazzoler’s philosophy is pairing the wine to the food. His philosophy on wine pairings is the wine should be front and center while matching the food to wine. 

He understands the components in food and how it complements or matches with the complex components of wine. The 2011 light to medium-bodied Chardonnay’s acidity and fruit are expressed with flavors and aromas of mouth-watering lemon zest, pineapple and green apple . It is all balanced with delicate creamy butter notes on the palate from malolactic acid fermentation and a hint of smoke from the oak.

You can see how the  menu was perfectly paired to showcase the SIMI wines that were paired with the each course.  Check out Chef Kolin Vazzoler’s Kitchen and recipes for your next wine you host a wine pairing dinner with SIMI wines!

Read more about Chef Kolin Vazzoler on SIMI’s website and on my previous post from the 2013 Austin Food & Wine Festival Post about SIMI wines & Chef Vazzoler!IMG_3122


Chef even makes the butter served from his kitchen! This is so cool.  The creamy fresh butter is topped with smoked salt which is amazing since the bread and butter even paired with the chardonnay!





The main course was perfectly cooked and succulent Roasted Pork with sweet & fruity Nardello Peppers, Radish and Plum Mostarda garnished with black-eyed peas and was paired with SIMI 2009 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah.

The concentrated and rich, juicy wine with dark and luscious characteristics was a perfect pairing to the savory and sweet pork dish.



The dessert course was especially a treat! A sampling of very fresh and juicy summer figs and raspberries was topped with basil cream and Shiso Yuzu Granite. Herbal and citrus notes combined with fresh,tangy raspberries makes an exceptional pairing with the JUST RELEASED 2010 Landslide!

Imagine sipping on a lush wine with the flavors of juicy ripe blackberries and plums with hints of coffee and chocolate with bright youthful acidity paired with this dessert! Well, I did taste this and it was amazing!  I will be posting more about Landslide soon!


Ahhh, the Pièce de résistance! 

As if everything else hadn’t been enough! We were escorted to the cellars and Chef Vazzoler’s outdoor where we had an experience of a lifetime.


We drank wines that had cellared for many years. We experienced the history of the SIMI terroir in a glass. Once opened and enjoyed, it become a wonderful memory of how wines of quality and balance last and morph into a wine with rich and complex history of wine making that proved to be long-lasting. This was an a truly amazing experience!


Chef Kolin Vazzoler and I share the same passion for cooking paella! I was impressed that we have the same size pan and both enjoy Paella Parties for friends and guests!



What an amazing outdoor kitchen at SIMI winery. I hope to visit again and maybe -just maybe- get to experience one of Chef’s culinary pairings al fresco!





Spending only one day at SIMI winery with Luke and Chef Vazzoler was an experience that has forever enhanced my knowledge and passion for wines in Sonoma. I will cherish this “behind the scenes” adventure at SIMI winery forever.

How lucky I am!





1 thought on “Lisa & Livi’s Extraordinary Adventure in Sonoma: A Day of Touring and Tasting at SIMI Winery with Luke and Chef Vazzoler!

Leave a Reply