Food & Wine Pros
Partake, Healdsburg - a new concept in food and wine pairing
Since few Californian wineries now have restaurants on their premises* it’s been more of a challenge to showcase their food. But Sonoma-based Kendall-Jackson has come up with an ingenious solution in the form of a food pairing restaurant Partake which opened in Healdsburg this March.
You can either approach your meal through food or through wine. Each wine variety (available in a 2 oz or 5 oz pour) has a chef’s pairing recommendation, though you can select your own if you prefer or you can order a tasting menu of five wines with accompanying dishes.
On the whole the pairings worked well. I preferred the Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay to the Vintner’s Reserve Riesling with a dish of caramelised carrots with a spicy coconut sauce (the fresher ‘Avant’ chardonnay might have been even better) and the Highland Estate Taylor Peak Merlot to the Cabernet Sauvignon with the red wine panzanella salad with tomatoes but that may well be a question of personal taste. Sauvignon Blanc with a salad of soft goat cheese, melon and baby greens was bang on the money as was a beet tartare with black sesame, ume plum and shiso with a rich plummy pinot noir.
Some of the dishes played a little too hard on the wine connection - I’m not sure Cabernet coloured pork buns are a good idea nor the equally reddish brown red wine fries with Cabernet ketchup (right). Apparently the chips were soaked in red wine overnight before frying.
The main problem I’d have thought is that the helpings are way smaller than the locals and even visitors are used to with European-style tasting portions. Will there be enough repeat custom once the novelty factor has worn off? I’m not sure but full marks for trying.
Partake is at 241 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg CA 95448
*California wineries, as part of their license privileges, can operate a "bona fide public eating place" at their winery location, according to Wines of California’s legal department which explains why wineries such as Domaine Chandon, Francis Ford Coppola and Wente in Livermore operate restaurants. There are strict requirements for operating such restaurants, however, and many wineries do not have the capabilities, proper zoning, nor the desire to operate full scale restaurants on their licensed premises.
Wineries can also hold an interest in on-sale licensees such as restaurants that are not located on a winery site, but only under very specific and strict conditions. California law allows wineries to have an interest in on-sale licensed premises under two statutes, Business and Professions Code Sections 25503.15 and 25503.30. The provisions are very precise and all conditions must be met.
Finally, the ability of a California winery to hold an interest in an on-sale license is a legislative exception and goes contrary to the general rule that producers cannot hold an interest in a retail license. Business and Professions Code sections 25500 and 25502 set forth this general rule, but are overridden by the other statutes mentioned.
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