Greetings, Kitten Fans! We realize we left you hanging for a while after our last post, lost in the bubbly enthusiasm of the Sabering at Amista. What better place to be lost, right? But there is, in fact, one more chapter to our story with Spot and Stretch. On that afternoon, one good thing just kept leading to another. And another. And another.
We soon found ourselves on the edge of downtown Healdsburg just off the Plaza at Longboard Vineyards. Longboard is a very cool place for many reasons, one of which is that their tasting room is open until 6:00 p.m., later than standard closing time for most wineries. And, according to Longboard’s web site, they sometimes stay open beyond that if you call and ask. How great is that??!!
Established in 1998, Longboard is the creation of owner/winemaker Oded Shakked. The Longboard website describes Oded as “a walking melting pot” which seems appropriate since he was born in Israel and raised on three different continents. An extraordinarily warm guy, Oded’s laid back, welcoming charm is infused in the Longboard tasting room. In fact, it feels more like a surf shop than a tasting bar, making for a great change of pace from the typical tasting experience. No stuffiness or pretentious attitudes here!
Growing up in Tel Aviv, a stone’s throw away from the beach, Oded developed an early love of surfing. He even built surf boards for a living before heading to UC Davis to pursue a career in his other love—wine. He trained in both Bordeaux and Napa, but found his home in Sonoma. He was assistant winemaker at Jordan Winery before becoming longtime head winemaker at J Vineyards, known for their Pinot Noir and sparkling wines, and a winery which devoted Kitten Fans will recognize as one of our favorites, as well.
We knew we were in for a great tasting when Oded greeted Stretch with a big bear hug as we walked in the door. To be honest, we took no tasting notes. At that point in the day, we were simply soaking up the fun. I can tell you, though, that everything we sipped was so good that we signed up for the wine club right then and there. And while all their wines are phenomenal, it was their Syrah that stole our heart— dark sultry berries and earth, with layers of complexity in perfect balance.
After acquainting us with Longboard, Spot and Stretch proceeded to introduce us to another great Healdsburg establishment, Mateo’s Cocina Latina. It seemed the perfect place to end to our epic afternoon together. Coming from the “walking melting pot” of Oded’s winery, we found Chef Mateo Granados’ restaurant a melting pot of it’s own. His exquisite Latin-inspired dishes bring together the flavors of his Yucatan homeland with “classic French finesse and a playful spirit.” What an amazing combination, right?! The local, sustainably grown ingredients in Mateo’s cuisine are beautifully shown off by his unique, signature style.
So in the spirit of the melting pots in which we happily found ourselves at both Longboard and Mateo’s, we toast to the eclectic assortment of cultures that graced our day. From Tel Aviv to the Yucatan, with French inspiration and fresh California ingredients— all found right in Healdsburg. And we can’t help but raise our glasses, also, to the playfulness and fun both Oded and Mateo infuse into their creations. Fun is the ingredient that makes everything taste its best.
As Oded says: “Relax, it’s only wine…enjoy it with food you like and trust nothing but your own palate.” And as Stretch always reminds us, “share it with friends.” Cheers!