Cultivating Our Way out of Barbarism

By Mark Tronson, Tastemaker in Residence

In casual conversation it seems many of us want to give credit to the fire or the wheel or some other ancient "find" for bringing our civilization to the advanced state we find it in today. I think the following quote from fifth century b.c. Greek historian Thucydides refutes that notion: "the peoples of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learned to cultivate the olive and the vine." I always knew I worked in a meaningful industry - just wasn't aware that without it we would still be in the dark ages!

I'm wondering if you wanna do a little exercise with me?

Close your eyes and imagine you're at a 5th Century BC Greek table after the harvest - you know - flowing robes and clay pots full of wine - rich and creamy goat cheese drizzled with freshly pressed olive oil - an herb encrusted leg of lamb grilled along with the vegetables of the day (turns out we still cultivate them all today) - other than that whole robe thing it's really not much of a stretch of the imagination is it?

I believe that great wines and food are our strongest connection with the ancients. In that spirit I'd like to offer a harvest dinner with wine pairings as an homage to the people credited with introducing the world to these luxuries we so often take for granted now.
(I am positive the ancients would have drunk wines from their regions so in that spirit I am suggesting wines from my neighborhood - Washington state)

Freshly made Goat Cheese atop a slice of bread still warm from the oven then drizzled with newly pressed olive oil paired with ...Distefano Sauvignon Blanc - crisp and clean - fresh and lively this wine is the perfect complement to the tangy goat cheese and slight bitter notes of the olive
- mouthwatering

Grilled vegetables from the garden sprinkled with herbs de Provence then drizzled with garlic
butter paired with...Gilbert Cellars Unoaked Chardonnay - this bright and cheery Chard with its racy acidity is the perfect accompaniment to the dish - great fruit that hasn't been masked by oak literally shines through - refreshing

Grilled Leg of Lamb and Sweet Potato Cole Slaw paired with ...Murray Syrah from Hightower Cellars - the addition of 8% Viognier really adds to this rich bodied Syrah from Washington's Red Mountain AVA - the Viognier aromas literally jump from the glass while the palates full body and deeply dark fruit notes finish the experience - satisfying

and finally ... grilled sliced pears topped with mascarpone cheese - drizzled with local honey paired with ...Jones Winery's Late Harvest Riesling - rich flavors of orange and pear are the hallmark of this unctuous and palate coating dessert wine - the cool climate however also allows for a verve of bracing acidity to balance the wine - yummy!

I'm sure you'll agree that the fall season and the accompanying harvest of our bounty is the perfect time for reflection of who we are and where we came from - cheers to our fore fathers and the ancients for passing down theses traditions - cheers to the growers and the wine makers who so enrich our lives and cheers to you for making it all the way through this article!