How to take Wine Country home with you
Ramekins Retreats—Grown-up fantasy camp
Ramekins Retreats offer a sample you can keep tasting at home.
If you’ve figured out how to live, work and play in Sonoma, sometimes you forget how lucky you are. Seems like everyone wants to be us. From the posh Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar in Washington, D.C., to the slightly less savory Sonoma Market and Liquors in San Francisco, it’s obvious lots of people want a piece of the Sonoma pie.
So here’s a simple solution: Ramekins Culinary School and Event Center has managed to capture the essence of Wine Country in a package visitors can take home with them and cherish for years to come. We’re not talking about a very large box, we’re talking about Ramekins Retreats, sort of like Wine Country fantasy camp, including everything from behind-the-scenes tours at exclusive wineries to learning how to expertly pair food and wine, to cooking classic Wine Country meals from locally sourced ingredients.
“The camp taught me so many culinary skills that I was able to incorporate at home. Every day was an adventure and I loved the ‘farm to table’ concept because, as a local resident, it is very important to support fresh, sustainable produce grown in our region,” said Rose Markey, a recent happy camper.
Ramekins Retreats are crafted to meet just about any kind of Wine Country experience imaginable. Say you want to get a full taste of America’s first Cittaslow (Slow City), you don’t want to hold back on the wine, but you also want to burn off any lingering calories and find the center within your soul.
Welcome to the the three-day Living Well Retreat, set for September 16-19. It’s stocked with healthy cooking classes; walking tours of local produce providers—the Patch and 5th Street Farm; a demonstration dinner with cookbook author Tasha DeSerio; morning yoga classes; a meditation workshop and a farewell dinner at Ramekins owners Darius and Sarah Anderson’s ranch, with wines from the organic Scribe Winery. The experience provides all the tips needed to bring the healthy side of Sonoma back to wherever home may be. (Prices: $2,200-$2,700.)
OK, maybe you’re not hankering for all that health. You want the more seductive, European-style experience Wine Country is famous for. The French Culinary Retreat, from August 19-23, gives four full days of Wine Country with a Parisian twist. You’ll learn to make the basics of French food, like soups and mother sauces, as well as pastries such as crêpes, soufflés and brioche. Get a sip of classic Bordeaux-style wines at Opus One and Domaine Carneros. The week culminates with dinner at Thomas Keller’s hyper-exclusive, three Michelin Star French Laundry in Yountville. (Prices: $3,900-$4,500.)
“Each and every guest chef, winery or location we went to made this an amazing learning experience,” says Judi Adelmen, who took part in one of the Culinary Retreats. “My only regret is I could not re-book again this year.”
Other retreats are hyper-focused on food with intensive cooking classes, farm tours, cheese-making experiences and visits to unique purveyors like Hog Island Oysters. Then there are retreats for serious wine lovers, with courses on how to pair port and chocolate, visits to crush pads and plenty of tastings. Still not satisfied you can get the Wine Country experience you’ll want to re-create at home? Than customize your own two-day Ramekins Retreats with just the classes, dinners and wine adventures you want. (Price: $1,200 and up.)
Ramekins Culinary School and Event Center is one of the epicurean jewels in the Wine Country crown, with a full teaching kitchen that attracts celebrity chefs from around the world and a classically Wine Country boutique hotel. Not everyone can live in Wine Country, but anyone can have their own slice wrapped up and ready to take home.
To book a retreat or find out about more culinary adventures, visit ramekins.com or call 707.933.0450.
From the 2012 summer issue of SONOMA