A Family Affair
"Within the first 15 minutes of our gatherings, everyone is relaxed," says Coral Brown, who teamed up with siblings Deneen and David to operate the family-run business. "There are people sitting on the steps, on the rock walls, in the gazebo. For me as a host, it's beautiful to see."
Kicking off the feast, Cucumber-Cream Cheese Sandwiches accompany Sungold Tomato Gazpacho. The Browns served their 2006 Chiles Valley Zinfandel with the soup and sandwich. "Its spiciness complements their subtle flavors," Coral says.
As the meal continues, citrus zest and mineral-rich fleur de sel cut through the rich lobster and crème fraîche salad, served on oversize herbed croutons. The Browns picked their full-bodied 2006 Chardonnay to go with the lobster salad because the wine's natural acidity cuts through the richness of the shellfish.
Pencil asparagus is tossed with olive oil and vinegar, then served with ribbons of prosciutto and slivered radishes. The Browns' 2005 Chaos Theory is their version of an Italian "Super Tuscan" wine. Its complexity stands up to the strong flavors of the olive oil and prosciutto.
Skirt steak that's been marinated and grilled is hearty, not heavy. The Browns combined the steak and Rice Salad for a final savory course, serving it with their 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. "Its smoky cassis notes go well with grilled food," Coral says, "but won't overpower it."
Served alongside a simple summer meal, this Rice Salad gets its snap from sherry vinegar.
To finish off the feast, ripe berries and peaches need little more than a touch of vanilla; even whipped cream is optional. The Browns served their 2006 Arrested Zinfandel, a versatile dessert wine they've fortified with their own brandy.