Clif Family Bruschetteria – A Revolution in Napa Valley dining options!

There’s a big green truck rolling in to town, and it’s not the kind that picks up your trash cans!  If you haent’ heard by now, Clif Family Winery has expanded their St. Helena operation to include the Clif Family Bruschetteria Food Truck, replete with northern Italian menu options that are magically created to pair with the wines.

Clif Family Wines began with a spark of inspirtaion, when founders Gary Erickson & Kit Crawford, both avid cyclists, enjoyed the laid back lifestyle where a leisurely meal and bottle of wine were always on the agenda after a full day.  It stands to reason that the health-minded founders of the Clif Bar Company would also want to complete their lifestyle portfolio with wine.  After a long bike ride, with some tasty energy booting Clif Bars, who doesn’t need a glass of yummy wine?

 

And so, here we are in St. Helena, at the Vino Volo tasting room and salon, where the winery tasting room has expanded to include a beautiful outdoor seating area and the Bruschetteria, offering bites, snacks, and full meals.  Keeping things local, Executive Chef John McConnell takes advantage of the Clif Family Farm in nearby Pope Valley, as well as various other local suppliers, to maintain the freshest of flavors.

 

On the day we visited, BrixChick Liza and I were greeting by General Manager Linzi Gay, who joined Clif Family in 2007.  With a curated menu of options that were paired wtih the day’s food options, we were off on a culinary adventure, while enjoying the peaceful setting on the back patio.

 


Evernote Snapshot 20150508 124726Porchetta Bruschetta paired with 2012 Oak Knoll Chardonnay
.  The juicy porchetta was perfectly rich for the Chardonnay, which was aged in 50% new French Oak for a delicate creaminess while still maintaining the fruit.  I loved the fresh, clean citrus notes that were followed by a mineral, flinty finish which paired perfectly with the fattiness of the pork.

 

 


Evernote Snapshot 20150508 124726 (1)Pomodoro Bruschetta paired with 2011 Kit’s Killer Cabernet – c
oming from the slopes of Howell Mountain, Kit’s Killer Cab is bursting her green herbs, as well as bright red fruit and, chewy fig, and tobacco leaf.  This combination of a higher acid wine was perfect for the tomato based Pomodoro Bruschetta, which was oozing with garlic and goat cheese.

Evernote Snapshot 20150508 124727Finally, the Funghi Bruscetta with 2011 Gary’s Improv Zinfandel.  As someone who has kind of a thing for mushrooms, the aromas wafted over to my nose even before they served it, and I couldn’t wait to dive in.  Seasonal mushrooms are slathered with Fontina cheese and fresh herbs, and perfectly toasted.  The Gary’s Improv Zinfandel, also from Howell Mountain, is a lovely example of high elevation fruit that shows both the brambleberry, dark blue and black fruit notes that are the hallmark of Zinfandel, but also the spice rack and acid pop that are classic Howell Mountain.  The earthy hard spices were a perfect match for the funghi!

With only 4,000 cases produced, winemaker Laura Barrett, who just joined in  2014 after a stint at Casey Flat Ranch, is able to focus on specific fruit sources that are both Estate and sourced fruit.  Picking just the right vineyard, she is able to craft small lot wines of distinction, and serve them with the perfect companion bites.

The Bruchetteria has been open since 2014, and is normally parked outside the Clif Family Vino Velo tasting room on Highway 29 in St. Helena; but don’t’ be surprised if you see the big green truck roaming the valley!  The food truck is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30-4:00, and is a perfect stop for lunch or a mid afternoon snack anytime you are in Napa Valley.  Dishes range from snack sized salads and bruscetta, to larger lunch portioned roticceria dishes, and are perfect for sharing.

Evernote Snapshot 20150508 124358

Stop by and stay a while!
Special thanks to Clif Family and The Barn Group for hosting us for this perfect lunch hour escape.

Jumping off a Clif

See that little logo to the right?  Notice the CLIF name and image?  That’s right, those crazy people that essentially created the energy bar are back and they are in bottle!  I was so excited when I recieved these wines, because several blogger friends had already had the opportunity to sample them and were raving.

First, a little back story.  The Clif Bar Company began in 1992 for the passion of Gary Erickson & Kit Crawford, who were striving to create nutritious, organic foods & drinks.  I personally love Luna Bars, and spent many a breakfast in my car with a very large coffee and a bar as I battled traffic down to Silly Cone Valley in years past.  From this passion for food, a natural progression was made to a passion for wine in 1997 when Gary & Kit bought a farmstead in Napa where they could raise animals, and maybe plant a few vines.  Fast forward to 2010 (or 2009 if I were more effective at timely drinking) and we have Clif Family Winery & Farm.

I love the message that the Clif Familyprojects, one of balance and joie de vivre, as we are reminded to slow it down and enjoy life.  Their goal, and one very close to my heart, is to create unique, regionally specific wine and foods that use careful management of the land, including organic growing techniques.  on the farm, locally gorwn foods and the support of family farms raises turkey and chickens as well as fruits and vegetables.  There are some historic 85 year old olive trees on the farm, and recently more were planted.  Soon, we will have delicious extra virgin olive oil to pair with theh wines!  The farm runs 100% on bio-diesel, and all of the produce is 100% organic, with a CCOF certification.

While the wine is currently not made from estate fruit, the future plan is to be 100% organically sourced fruit from the Farm.  Meanwhile, the wine is made from sourced fruit by Sarah Gott, who rose to fame at Joseph Phelps and Quintessa, before starting her own label with her husband, Joel Gott.  Being  a rockstar winemaker has its perks, and she is now a consulting winemaker at several NapaValley wineries.

The first wine i am trying from Clif Family is the 2006 Gary’s Improv Syrah.  On the nose I found black pepper, blue and black berries.  In the mouth, the rich aromas are followed by a juicy mouthful of ripe plums, dark red fruit, and currants followed by bittersweet chocolate and espresso.  It’s medium body is a refreshing style of syrah, in the French tradition, as it is not a big meat grinder, but rather a juicy, nicely balanced, food friendly wine.  On the finish, there is a touch of black licorice, and just a hint of smoked meat.  This is a great syrah for dinner and at $35 I suggest you go find some.  that is a BUY in my book.  Like now.

These wines were graciously provided by Clif Family Winery.  Clif Bars were not included, but how does one pair energy bars with wine anyway?  Although there’s a thought.