Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019 - 24

FOOD & DRINK
There's something magical about sharing a delicious meal
outdoors, surrounded by the beauty of nature, miles from the
nearest restaurant. This is especially true in Sonoma County,
with its wonderfully diverse tapestry of windswept coastal ridges,
rolling hills, lush green valleys and majestic redwood forests.
The region is truly one of the most stunning places on Earth
to enjoy a picnic. While Sonomans didn't invent the concept
of simple-but-elegant outdoor dining, some would say they
perfected it.
The word picnic comes from the French pique-nique, which
loosely translates to " pick a little something. " First appearing
in print in the late 17th
century, the term was originally used to
describe a group of people who brought their own wine to drink
in a restaurant. The picnic concept eventually moved outdoors
as a sort of potluck, with each guest bringing along something
for the party to eat. Picnics were once the domain of the upper
classes, but became popular with the masses after the French
Revolution, when the royal parks of Paris opened to the public.
" Walking is
a lot more
entertaining
when there's
something to
hunt for. "
Americans, wishing to emulate the sophisticated Parisians, followed
suit. By the 19th
century, they had enthusiastically embraced the
picnic-even going so far as to hold their feasts in graveyards.
Far from being considered macabre, cemeteries offered a serene,
park-like setting that was lacking in many areas, and allowed
people to commune with lost loved ones. The practice waned in
the 1920s, when the opening of public parks across the country
presented cheerier venues for outdoor dining.
Today, there is certainly no shortage of gorgeous picnic
locations-especially in Sonoma County. For Nitsa Knoll, Jordan's
director of hospitality and events, it's a tough call between
the Jordan Winery's hilltop vineyards in Alexander Valley and
waterfront enclaves along the rugged Sonoma Coast, but she is
especially smitten with the ocean landscape. " The dramatic bluffs,
the spikes of dark rock rising from the sea and miles of deserted
coast bring me peace, " she says. " I can't think of a better place to
play in nature. "
To Nitsa, a picnic is more than a casual al fresco meal. It's a
chance to take the dining room outdoors. Paper plates and plastic
cutlery may be fine for casual, family barbecues, but a refined
picnic-whether with friends or a significant other-calls for
beautiful tableware, linens and d├ęcor.
Clockwise from top
left: Nitsa Knoll
forages thistle
for a tablescape;
branches of
eucalyptus found
near the seashore
make a gorgeous,
natural base for
a coastal-themed
dinner party
centerpiece; a long
pour of Jordan
Cabernet during
a sunset picnic at
Jordan Estate; an
open field near
Sonoma Coast's
rocky cliffs offers
the perfect setting
for a seafooddriven
picnic.
It begins with a natural centerpiece made from greenery and
flowers foraged near the picnic site. When Nitsa sets out in
search of materials to adorn the tables for Jordan events and
personal picnics, her plan is simple: no plan. " If I'm on the coast,
I'll usually look for succulents, eucalyptus or cypress, things like
that, " she says.
When she's picnicking among the vineyards on the Jordan Estate,
she plucks fresh herb sprigs from the winery garden, as well as
wildflowers, to bring a natural element to the table. " Sometimes
you just need to feel it and see what's around you, " Nitsa says.
" It just happens naturally when you're walking around in nature-
you'll just see something. "
Armed with a basket and a leather satchel containing clippers,
wire cutters and floral tape, Nitsa simply heads off into the
surrounding landscape to see what's available. Over the years,
she's developed a keen eye for spotting natural treasures.
" I started foraging for table decorations when I was six years old,
in our neighbor's yard, " Nitsa says. " I got in trouble a lot. "
24

Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 14, 2019

Table of Contents
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