Yes, that’s right, a $10,000 USD trip for four to Sonoma wine country and they’re giving it away THIS MONTH *(April) to some lucky s.o.b in the States~! You have to get your name in this contest right now because if your neighbor ends up winning – if your boss… if your EX wins this… My friend, you will be supremely disappointed if that happens.


Want to grow your knowledge of wine? See the immense education credentials at Underground Cellar:


Because it’s not just about the $10,000 value of the trip! In fact, the money is barely relevant because some of this couldn’t be bought for any amount of money. Imagine sleeping in a Mediterranean-inspired First-Class villa, having a private tour of Iron Horse vineyards and then being personal guests of the critically acclaimed “Girl and the Fig” restaurant. Even money can’t always buy access and my well-heeled friends at Underground Cellar have truly out-done themselves with this stunning “getaway giveaway”.


Iron Horse vineyards ( http://www.ironhorsevineyards.com ), for those who aren’t familiar, has been served in the White House for decades; it has been poured for multiple American presidents, Asian presidents, European royalty, movie stars… truly one of the iconic sparkling wines of the New World. Wine Spectator constantly rates their wines over 90 points and Wine Enthusiast even gave the 2004 Brut vintage 96 points – virtually unheard of for a North American producer. It’s easy to understand why “those-in-the-know” are always putting a half-case or more per vintage of this in their cellars. Who wouldn’t want to walk through this vineyard with the winemaker and then go on a little tasting spree in “le Cav du Vin” *(the wine cellar)??

And what of where you’ll be resting your head at night? The township of Sonoma is the very first recognized Slow City in the United States, and the Terra Nova Sonoma fits perfectly with the sustainability drive behind the slow-food, slow-city movement ( http://terranovasonoma.com ). This inspiring and incredibly private villa was built by local artisans using local quarried rock and local wood. The attention to detail leaves one breathless and the majesty of the Great Room shines making anyone who stays feel like a movie star… speaking of which, Underground Cellar has produced a rather amusing video entertaining this very concept:


Which leaves the food to talk about. Let me “wax poetic” as only an Irishman can:

         Green tomato and bacon tartine…

          Heirloom tomato and watermelon salad with fresh goats feta

         Slow braised pork belly sandwich with soft fried local egg

          Grass-fed beef tartare *(traditional) with pickled caperberries and fresh crostini.


Ok. Truth be told I just sounded a lot more French than I did Irish, but who cares? As a chef with 20 years formal experience; having worked in ultra-traditional Marseille *(French) kitchens: This. Is. French. The Girl and The Fig  (www.thegirlandthefig.com ).

Billed as “Country food with French passion” I am wholeheartedly impressed with not only their devotion to producing beautiful food, but also their uncompromising approach to sustainability. We all understand by now that the Earth is an ecosystem with limits; it is therefor inherent that those within the system respects its limits! Great restaurateurs are perhaps more driven by this then most: for it is the chefs who shape the fruits of the earth, the sommeliers who help us understand the nuances of soil and the restaurateur who must then craft this into a legacy that, in some cases, lasts generations. “The Girl and The Fig”, I have no doubt, will be standing for many years to come with its passion for culinary excellence and its respect for the work in local farms.


And all of this – is free. To one lucky American. Not me – I suffer the misery of being Canadian and will watch with envy as one of you walks away flies away with this prize… a round of applause for Underground Cellar for putting this together. I find myself admiring their spirit even more then the fantastic assortment of gems they discover on what seems a daily basis for their esteemed clientele.

So pour another glass of bubbly, follow the link:

And please don’t forget to tell me in intricate detail about it when you come back, either here, or:

on Twitter @AStudentofWine

on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/TheChefandTheGrape

About Author


Kristof Gillese: trained chef, certified wine steward, journalist and proud father. In these articles it is the human story that takes priority: to tell the tale of common people accomplishing uncommon goals. In the world of wine these tales are prolific. It has been Chef Kristofs privilege to have worked with luminaries such as Pierre-Henry Gagey of Maison Jadot, Nik Weis of St Urbans-Hof, Ray Signorello of Signorello Estates and Ezra Cipes of Summerhill Pyramid Winery; leaders in the industry. With almost 3 decades of experience working with the synergy between food and wine, Chef Kristof is proud to share the stories of these amazing stewards of the land. These articles are written with a profound reverence for the family aspect to winery culture as, to this writers understanding, nothing has ever had a more far-reaching effect than the love and devotion for a parent to a child. All great wineries are built by parents for their children and it is because of this that Chef Kristof writes.
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