Tapas-style Entertaining with the Bokisches

Photo by Kate Sears, Food styling by Matt Vohr, Prop styling by PJ Mehaffey

Liz and Markus Bokisch came to Lodi to be growers after traveling through Markus’s native Spain in a classic Volkswagen bus (which they still have) and falling in love with the wines of Portugal and Spain.

A viticulturalist by training who worked many years in the Napa Valley, Markus honed in on Lodi as an ideal place to do something different. From their rural Victor backyard, just outside of Lodi, they grow grapes for their own Bokisch Albariño, Tempranillo and Graciano wines.

Their time in Spain inspires their meals and a style of entertaining that is casual, friendly and family-oriented. The moment guests walk in, they’re handed a glass of wine or sangria and put to work around the tableside paella pan.

“We’re so in the Wine Country, when friends come over, they bring a bottle of wine,” Liz says. “We start with wine, and when we’re cooking, we’ll have some wine, too.”

Recreate the Region: 

The Menu

Markus loves to preside over a huge pan of paella tableside, making a version traditional to his hometown of Sant Carles de la Ràpita that includes both seafood and chicken. He enlists guests to help stir.

Since paella can take some time to perfect, everyone first enjoys wine and almonds in the garden. Liz prepares plenty of tapas, and Markus pulls out choice bits of fried chorizo, prawns and chicken from the paella pan for everyone to savor until the main meal is ready.

House-marinated Marcona almonds with fresh rosemary
Pineapple, date and kumquat skewers
Gazpacho shots
Manchego, Membrillo and Jamón Serrano rolls
Tableside Paella Mixta
Plat Miró (dipping plate of olives, boquerones, tapenade and olive oil)
Crusty, warm French bread
Homemade aioli
Cold Sangria terrine in Rosado gelée

The Décor

The Bokisches decorate with personal items, many of them either from Spain or inspired by their time there.

Meals are served on hand-painted ceramic plates from Spain selected for specific dishes, the food as artistic as the designs on the plates. They have green and yellow plates with their names inscribed that were made for their wedding, and Liz likes to stack other hand-painted, custom-made tapas plates on top of those.

The big wooden table in their garden is oft accented with a collection of shells from Markus’s hometown or distressed fishing nets, and Liz also likes to use simple things such as olive branches for the centerpieces and napkin decoration. Mason jars full of sunflowers and zinnias from her garden round out this fun thrown-together look.

The glassware is typically standard size and embossed with their winery logo. For sangria, they have a collection of large, squat-bottomed Margarita-style glasses. Liz also likes to keep a large supply of shawls and wraps on hand for when the sun goes down and the temperature drops, so that guests can linger longer outdoors.

The Playlist

For parties, the couple’s outdoor speakers broadcast a mix of Spanish, Brazilian and Cuban tunes, including the soundtrack from the
Buena Vista Social Club.

The Drinks

Bokisch Terra Alta Vineyard Albariño (Clements Hills)
Bokisch Terra Alta Vineyard Garnacha (Clements Hills)
Vall Llach Priorat 

Virginie Boone

Explore California’s other wine-growing regions >>>

Published on November 24, 2015
Topics: California Travel GuideHosting Guide