To kick off autumn, Livermore chef and pairings professional Leslie Dabney -- dubbed "The Vineyard Mom” -- and Del Valle Winery are hosting The Fall Harvest Food and Wine Pairing.
Set for Sunday (Oct 1) from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., a max of 40 guests will gather under the winery’s arbor-in-the-vineyard to sip and dine on three harvest-themed pairings.
Dabney, chef and entertainer for the event, created the menu of dishes from a longtime passion for cooking fresh food for her family.
Gina Molinaro-Cardera, owner of Del Valle Winery, will accompany Dabney in detailing the wines to guests.
As a finale, attendees can grape-stomp like winemakers of the past — participation optional, but photography encouraged.
After a welcoming glass of sparkling brut, the menu of pairings will begin rolling out — each is intended as a duet of flavors by pairing collaborators, Dabney and Kelli Urban, director of events at the winery.
To be served first: a pear and prosciutto salad paired with Del Valle Winery’s 2022 Grenache Rosé. Next will come a zucchini soufflé dish and a penne pasta with sausage and sage in a pumpkin cream sauce, both paired with the winery’s 2021 reserve Chardonnay and its 2019 Sangiovese.
Food and wine pairings like this can help guests escape a wine-rut, or the habit of only drinking familiar wines, according to Molinaro-Cardera. The experience might even provide guests with foods they wouldn’t usually eat.
Dabney said she hopes that attendees will learn unique flavor combinations for fall meals, especially with the holiday season approaching.
The menu’s fresh, fall harvest ingredients, like zucchini and pumpkin, are of particular interest to Dabney. Her passion for cooking with fresh ingredients traces back to raising her kids, which is also how her nickname "The Vineyard Mom" came to be.
Her family’s schedule was packed with sports, so time for eating nutritious food was minimal. Dabney felt that unless she cooked fresh foods, her kids would miss out. So, she cooked with fresh ingredients and now draws on this for inspiration.
"Being a mom’s the most important thing," Dabney said. "Cooking and being healthy, seasonal and fresh for my kids really encouraged all of my recipes and their support got me to doing this, which I'm so glad I did."
Her career has blossomed, as she contributes to South Livermore Living magazine every month, blogs her recipes online and appears as a guest on KRON 4 “LIVE! In the Bay” for cooking segments.
"I love being in front of people and sharing my food and wine," Dabney said. "I love to do it on TV, but to have a group of people that specifically want to be there for this is the best part."
The Fall Harvest Food and Wine Pairing takes place at 4948 Tesla Road in Livermore. Tickets are available at: Fall Harvest Food and Wine Pairing Event.