During the Summer months, things move so quickly, it’s nice to take a night, slow it down a bit, and celebrate the beauty of a good wine. And Atria restaurant in Edgartown offers just this with their Summer Wine Dinner Series.
On Wednesdays for two months, the tent at Atria becomes almost a mini wine school featuring top vintners, importers and wine professionals, whose hand selected wines are carefully paired with an amazing five course meal.
We booked the Far Niente Winery event for our wine adventure. Far Niente was founded in 1885 and has produced some of the most acclaimed wine from California.
The outdoor space at Atria is so magical. From the lights, to the swing, to the fire pit, to the table under the trees, to the fabulous tent, you cannot help but fall in love with Summer on Martha’s Vineyard a little more while here.
The Far Niente Summer Wine Dinner was being held in the tent. When you step inside, there’s beautiful lighting, flowers, and it’s just beautiful. DJ Rockwell was spinning some cool tunes and the table was set for drinking wine — five glasses, waiting for a pour of beautiful wine.
There were three large tables, where guests sat, and soon became fast friends. Part of the fun was meeting new people. For some, it was their first time at Atria, for others, they’ve gone to several. Some of us live here and love Atria year-round, but we all became friends by the end.
A beautiful night, great wine, amazing food. The perfect recipe for a memorable experience.
Our guest of honor, Tom Gilhooly, the U.S. Sales Manager for Far Niente, celebrated his 11th year doing this event. It is one of his favorite events to do. He loves Atria and of course Martha’s Vineyard.
Introduced by Atria’s Sommelier, Sam Decker, Tom gave us a brief history about Far Niente. It was quite prosperous for years – until prohibition when it fell into disrepair and was abandoned until 1979, when Gil Nickel purchased it and renovated it.
In 1982, wines were once again flowing from Far Niente, a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon. The winery still focuses on these two varieties.
Gil Nickel went on to purchase three other sister wineries Nickel & Nickel, Dolce, and Enroute. We were going to have the good fortune to sample wines from each winery, all paired with a specially prepared course by Atria’s Chef Christian Thornton and Chef duCuisine, Noah Kincaid.
To celebrate Tom’s legacy with Atria, Christian and Noah prepared a very special menu for the Far Niente wines. It was inspired by what’s been named Tom’s Southern Fried Chicken Tenders.
Christian and Noah took Tom’s favorite meal and decided to create a southern, comfort food menu. Simple food, paired with big reds and flavorful whites. A sort of irony — southern food with the season’s most elegant wines.
This was another one of those moments when you stop and think, “This Event is Special.” Getting personal with iconic Island chefs, feeling connected. Loved it.
What I loved even more was the fact that five courses, with five wines, was about to come our way.
Between the laughter and music, we were served a little appetizer, a beautiful cornbread topped with jalapeño jelly. The heat from the jelly and the sweetness of the cornbread were a delightful combination, flattering each other perfectly.
When Tom’s Fried Chicken Tenders was served, I was thrilled. It came with a peach vanilla compote and was served with the 2013 Far Niente Estate Chardonnay.
Of courses this chicken wasn’t anything like KFC, but rather was light and flavorful and one of may favorite chicken dishes ever.
The Far Niente was light as well, with a crispness and notes of citrus which paired so well with the fried chicken. Tom also shared stories of this noble wine with us.
It was nice to take the time to really note the flavor profile of the wine with the flavors of the chicken and talk about it at the table. I was able to really appreciate the moment.
We then had Grilled Quail with Andouille Sausage with cornbread stuffing and black eyed peas. This course was served with the 2013 EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir.
Though I usually don’t drink Pinot Noir, I really enjoyed this wine. The smell of black cherries and raspberries, a balanced flavor of tannins and minerality. This was so good.
Next up was a 2012 Nickel & Nickel C.C. Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon which was paired with Huckleberry Duck Breast with a buttermilk biscuit, collard greens, and country ham.
I love collard greens and pair them with a big red like the C.C. Ranch, that had a velvety silkiness and perfectly cooked duck, and you’ve got a little slice of heaven.
With three more courses to go, I could go on forever and ever, but it’s not fair to continue torturing you with all the details of the amazing food and wine.
However, I am going share a bit more about the experience. Tom was so informative and fun when talking with us about the wines, and of course Atria’s Sam Decker was a super star.
This man loves wine to the core and makes you love it too, because of the flavor, how each one is so unique, because of the soil the grapes were grown in.
Of course the food paired with the wines from Atria is scrumptious, add in the beauty of being in that gorgeous tent ,and you have a Summer evening that is special, unlike any other dining experience you’ll have.
I leave wine events at Atria with a deeper appreciation for wine and those who produce it. How smaller vineyards are creating wines that are legacies in their own right, and making wine is a way of life, a passion.
Here, I get to see a glimpse into that world, and it’s a wonderful experience, especially with friends. If you like wine, then attend one of Atria’s Summer Wine Dinners — you’ll be glad you did.
You can learn more about the upcoming Summer Wine Dinners at Atriawine.com. There are two more scheduled, Exploring Burgundy (I did this one in the Winter – amazing), Wednesday, August 19th, and Evening in Provence, Wednesday, September 2nd (I’d love to do this one too).
Space is limited at these dinners, so book early. Grab a friend and enjoy an evening of wine, food, and new friends, and make an amazing Summer memory.