Mendocino/Lake Counties

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Mendocino/Lake Counties Entertaining

Picnic Perfection

Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn of Navarro Help Pack Your Basket

Navarro Vineyards’s Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn were drawn to the Anderson Valley in the 1970s to plant Gewürztraminer, a favorite variety.

They are now 40 years into making delicious Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and late-harvest wines. Most lunch hours the redwood picnic tables on the winery’s tasting room deck and throughout its gardens fill with travelers.

“Views of the vines, redwood-covered hills and flocks of sheep help slow down even the most hassled ‘bright lighter’ (‘city slicker’ in Boontling, the local language),” says Cahn. 

The tasting room sells cheeses from Pennyroyal Farm down the road in Boonville, the going concern of the Cahn-Bennett’s grown-up daughter, Sarah.

Pennyroyal gets its milk from Babydoll Southdown and Panama sheep and a plethora of goats that graze in Navarro’s vineyards, as well as a 66-acre farmstead in Boonville, peppered with wild grasses and pennyroyal mint, the genesis of the name.

One of the family’s favorite wine and cheese combinations is Sauvignon Blanc with Bollie’s Mollies, a firm-surfaced, ripened crottin with a clean, lemony taste. Pennyroyal Boon’t Corners, an aged tomme made from raw goat and sheep milk and aged two, four or six months, is a knockout with Navarro’s Pinot Noir.  A mild goat blue cheese, Boonter’s Blue pairs astutely with Navarro’s Cluster Select Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, a wine that is equally interesting with Pennyroyal Laychee, a fresh chèvre.

Recreate the Region

The Menu

The Pennyroyal cheeses: Bollie’s Mollies, Boonter’s Blue and Laychee topped with Navarro fig compote
Smoked salmon on olive oil flatbread
Nunes Farms almonds with sea salt
Butter cookies (recipe below)

The Décor

Simple and charming picnic basket and blanket.

The Playlist

Ry Cooder’s “A Meeting at the River,” aptly named for sitting close to the Navarro River, or Cooder’s “Hollow Bamboo”

The Drinks

Navarro Cuvée 128 Sauvignon Blanc (Mendocino)
Navarro Méthode à l’Ancienne Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley)
Navarro Riesling (Anderson Valley)
Navarro Cluster Select Late Harvest Gewürztraminer (Anderson Valley)

Three Granddaughters' Butter Cookies

½ pound (two sticks) organic butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt

Heat an oven to 375°F. It is not necessary to grease the cookie sheets but use a baking mat for faster cleanup—and eating. Cream the butter with the vanilla.  Add the sugar and eggs and beat well. In a separate bowl, add the flour and salt to the butter mixture, blending thoroughly.

Arrange ½ teaspoons of dough on cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with a wet metal spatula and bake until cookies start to brown, about 8 minutes. Makes a dozen cookies.

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