But the sign says Firestone Vineyards, I thought, turning into the Santa Ynez valley winery on Foxen Canyon road. The map I printed says to turn here to get to the winery of Andrew Murray Vineyards, where I was headed for a Fall celebration of the winemaker, his syrah and its pork pairing on the cover of Food+Wine magazine.
I did a u-turn and drove the length of the road, then drove back still looking, stopping in front of Firestone again. I called Andrew Murray’s tasting room in Los Olivos, where the young woman laughed and said this always happens. I was to pretend I was going to Firestone, drive through the property, then turn back in the hills away from the main road. When I saw the Area 51 sign pointing up over the next golden hill, I knew I was in the right place.
The small silver warehouse was organized for an elegant gathering; a table of food in the main entrance and wine on barrels in the cellar room. Everywhere we saw huge photos of Andrew Murray, his vineyards, and the 2005 Côte-Rôtie (“roasted slope”) paired with pork and tomatillo stew on the magazine cover. A single guitarist was quietly playing in the corner.
The smell of spicy pork and Hispanic spices tickled our noses. We checked the wine room and realized we would taste about twelve wines, including seven different syrahs. We decided we should taste each syrah with the stew, to determine the best pairing ourselves.
Seventeen tastes of wine later (we had to re-taste a few, just to be sure), having emptied the pot of stew to the discontent of the kitchen staff, we definitely determined that Andrew’s syrah went perfectly with pork stew. Pork and Syrah: yes. Which syrah would have to be left to the expert, as we emptied our glasses yet again (more Roasted Slope please), harassed the caterers for more stew and yelled to the guitarist to play some AC/DC.
I just hope he lets us come to the next party.