Red, Red {Strawberry} Wine

by Jenn (eating bender) on June 29, 2011

What do you get when you combine strawberries and wine? A fabulous weekend excursion!

On Saturday, Jill and I met Lauren (also known as X…don’t ask) and Kelli in the ‘burbs for the Long Grove Strawberry Festival. You may recall a very similar trip involving apples back in October.

The event was just as exciting this time around. Our first stop once we arrived was the Long Grove Cafe. Obviously, we wanted to be properly fueled before filling up on strawberries and sweets. πŸ˜‰ The cafe had an amazing array of options; I decided to go with the Spinach Salad, which was made with fresh spinach, goat cheese, bacon, red pepper and red onion and served with an Asian Orange Vinaigrette.

This salad was as beautiful as it was delicious. I’m such a fan of fresh goat cheese! The dressing had a hint of peanut in it, too. I wish I would have asked for the recipe.

Once we finished eating, it was time to explore the land of berries.

Our first stop may look familiar – just a few months ago, this booth was dedicated to all things apple!

This time around, we picked up strawberry donuts. My, my, these were amazing!

Perfectly doughy and sweet, with just the right amount of strawberry flavor. We meandered around the festival with our donuts for a while, snapping a few fun pictures in the sunlight.

It was a gorgeous day!

Then we remembered that there was an absolute must-see, which has nothing to do with apples or strawberries. Perhaps you may also recall…THE GREAT GRAPE!

There is nothing more refreshing than cool grapes covered in chocolate. Jill and I went a little crazy once we found them. I think the woman was a bit surprised by our enthusiasm — she told us to like them on Facebook. Done and done. πŸ˜‰

We wandered around a bit longer, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the various strawberry concoctions.

Once we were satisfied we had covered every corner, we made our way to Valentino Vineyards.

Lauren had been talking about this winery for weeks, so we were all delighted when a Groupon for a tasting magically appeared into our inbox just days before we were scheduled to go. When we got there, we were greeted by Rudolph Valentino himself.

He was quite the character — let me tell you. Rudolph walked us through the vineyard, describing the various grapes and the process for making his wines. It was very cool to see the early stages. Everything was so green and beautiful. Below was the Marechal Foch grape.

Eventually, we headed indoors for our tasting.

We were given a sampling of five different wines: two whites and three reds.

I only took a picture of a few since I assumed they would all look quite similar. πŸ˜‰ Below is a list with links to the website, if you are interested. I found the Cabernet Franc to be the smoothest and best tasting, and the Port White was my least favorite (it had cognac in it and was too strong).

  1. Seyval Blanc 2003
  2. Port White 2001
  3. Dechaunac 2003
  4. Signature Label 2006 Vintage
  5. Cabernet Franc Reserve 2005 Vintage

Rudolph says his wines are very low in sulfites because he gets a headache very easily from them. The vineyard has also been transitioned to organic in recent years. It was cool to experience a tasting so close to home, and even more fun to share the experience with some of my favorite people!

Truly a fabulous way to spend a Saturday afternoon. :)

The holiday weekend is upon us — and I couldn’t be more excited! Bobby and I will be in San Diego visiting my brother-in-law, Jim, sister-in-law, Cara, and our new baby girl nieces, Kelly and Caroline. Those girls have no idea how twinthusiastic I am about seeing them!

What are your plans for the Fourth of July weekend?

Whether you celebrate or not (hello, international readers!), I hope you have a great one planned.


1 Smore June 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Grapes in chocolate? Interesting. I’ve never tried that before but I’m sure it is delicious. That really does look like the perfect afternoon! Wine+Strawberries+chocolate+friends, you just can’t go wrong with that combo!

2 Laura @ prettylittlewords June 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Ahhh I wish I had known about the Strawberry Festival, that looks like it’d be right up my alley! YUM!

3 lpodolsky410 June 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Truly fabulous indeed! I have seen many things covered in chocolate but never a grape. That sounds heavenly.

4 Erica June 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

What a fun festival! mmm fresh strawberries- so delicious! And those grapes sound amazing. I always wish I enjoyed wine- wineries seem like such a fun experience. Have fun on your trip! We’ll be in SC but my Aunt is having a party for the fourth!

5 Megan (Braise The Roof) June 29, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I had no idea Long Grove had a vineyard- you KNOW I’m going to have to make a trip up there! :) Have fun in San Diego. I’ll hold down the fort while you’re gone. Let’s make plans soon!

6 BroccoliHut June 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Haha, now I have that song stuck in my head!
My plans for the 4th include a wedding in Massachusetts with Seth. I am SO psyched–I love weddings!!

7 MarathonVal June 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Were the grapes frozen? Interesting…. I think I like that combo! I had no idea there was a strawberry festival but that sounds like such a fun time. Hope you are having a great summer, Jenn! :)

8 Krissie J June 29, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I would be uncontrollable at a festival like this! I cannot resist strawberry anything! The doughnut looks especially good!

9 Melissa @ TryingToHeal June 29, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Ahhh…so close yet so far. but dang those strawberries look GREAT!!!

Have fun in San Diego! The Weather is going to be GORGEOUS this weekend!!!

10 skip June 30, 2011 at 5:09 am

If the grapes were frozen then tempering is not needed, (the same goes for bananas), all you need is a good quality chocolate (no chips meant for cookies). Anytime the stuff inside the chocolate is going to remain frozen you do not need to temper the chocolate as the cold will keep the cocoa butter and sugars from migrating to the surface (so there will be no bloom).

The chocolate covered strawberry picture didn’t look right to me, once I looked at it for a bit I saw that there were painted faux fruit. Real chocolate never gets that thin … once I saw the seam on a few of the strawberries and that there was no color change in the leaves it was obvious. They probably used the faux fruit to beat the heat & kept the real product in a cooler.

I had one friend that had me make chocolate covered Muscadines (she had me peal the Muscadines but they were not frozen)..

When you get ready do do your own chocolate covered experiment let me know.
(chocolate covered fluff stuffed strawberries on a graham cracker base is a current crowd favorite)

11 withasideofhope June 30, 2011 at 6:36 am

That festival looks amazing! I love all things strawberry! Oh, and a chocolate covered grape?! Sign me up! I want to try that! Haha! :)

I’m planning on relaxing this weekend and seeing my friends who are coming in to visit from Maryland.

12 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) June 30, 2011 at 7:13 am

The Strawberry Festival looks like so much fun!

Chocolate-covered grapes?! What a great idea!

Congrats on becoming an aunt! Have fun visiting your nieces and family!

13 foodsweatandbeers June 30, 2011 at 8:48 am

Ugh, port white sounds miserable! But the rest of the day looks like a dream come true.

Enjoy the twinthusiasm, I’ll be celebrating with some grilling, some chilling, and LOTS of firework watching!

14 Jill Felska June 30, 2011 at 9:18 am

What a great weekend adventure! Thanks for bringing me along!

For the record, I’m now craving grapes again…

15 Cait's Plate June 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Oh my goodness – this is food porn at it’s best! I literally want everything in this post! I’m off to Boston this weekend to spend time with my cutie pie nieces. Can’t wait!

16 braingutshands June 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Great post! Also, Jill: I have that exact same dress.

17 glidingcalm July 1, 2011 at 1:36 am

sounds like a perfect day to me!!!!

choc covered grapes sound amazinggggggg too!!

18 Jesse July 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

strawberry donuts? wow. want.

19 Onion in My Hair July 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I had no idea about the winery in Long Grove! I have been to the festival before and loved it!

Have you ever been to the Chocolate Festival? It’s held the last weekend in May…you could thrive on the doughnuts alone for weeks! :)

20 Salah July 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

omg that all looks amazing!!!!!! That chocolate….mmmmmm :-) and strawberry wine sounds ah-mazing!

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