The moon and the stars have aligned, bringing the next Outstanding in the Field dinner to Gilroy on Thursday, June 29. This extraordinary farm-to-table dinner is a collaboration between three titans of the food and wine industry: a visionary chef, legendary winemakers and a farmer with the heart of a giant. This magical dinner will be held outside in the middle of the Besson Family Vineyards.
“Outstanding in the Field is an event to celebrate the freshest foods of the season,” says Jim Denevan, the world-renowned founder of the explosive farm-to-table dinner movement which he started in 1999.
This year, the dinners will attract 12,000 customers across the country, ranging from $215-$235. A San Jose native, Denevan has an eclectic resume that includes working on his brother’s organic pear and apple farm, cooking as a chef in Italy and becoming an internationally recognized artist, the first person in the world to use beach sand as a canvas for his intricate designs.
Lamenting the urban growth that was replacing orchards and inspired by the work he had done on his brother’s farm, Denevan says, “I wanted to create a dining experience where top chefs could showcase their talents with locally grown food; pairing them with some of the best wines of the region.”
Mikey Adams, the exciting new executive chef at Restaurant 1833 in Monterey is designing a menu that pays tribute to the many immigrants who have made Gilroy home. “I love the rich history and beautiful setting of Gilroy,” says Adams. French, Italian, Asian and Mexican flavors, along with an appropriate amount of Gilroy garlic, will influence his extravagant menu. “I can’t wait to pull from these different cultures to make a dinner from what is grown locally.”
The anticipated menu (subject to change according to the freshest ingredients available) will consist of passed hors d’oeuvres including Castroville artichoke fry bread, lamb tartare, chicharrones and salmon ceviche.
A potato dish with smoked onion, bacon, prunes and poppy seed ricotta is the first course. For the second course, an Asian inspired ponzu sauce drizzles a lightly grilled and smoked halibut. The third and last course will be tender braised goat, infused with intense spices. “I’m prepared to make a goat lover out of everyone,” says Adams. “When prepared correctly and with love, it is one of the best meals you will ever have.”
The pièce de résistance, butterscotch custard, will complete the meal.
John Locke and Alex Krause, co-founders and winemakers at Birichino have carefully selected a different wine to complement each course. “Using neutral barrels and a natural style of winemaking, you can taste the terroir in our wines. They are elegant and refined with ninja-quality tannins that sneak up from behind.” Many Birichino wines are produced from old vines dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. “We love working with the Besson family and making wine from their old vines; it will be a joy to honor them with this dinner.”
While guests are milling about, sampling the hors d’oeuvres before the dinner, they will enjoy a Vin Gris Rose, made from the Besson’s old vine mourvèdre with lots of spice, pink grapefruit and a whiff of gunflint.
The 2015 St. Georges Zinfandel, made from the 93 year old vines grown on the Besson property, will accompany the first course. The second course will be served alongside the 2014 Malvasia Bianca, with its floral and tropical aromatics. The goat dish will be paired with the star of the show; the 2015 Besson Grenache Old Vines. Perfumed and complex, this grenache is the Birichino signature wine. Dessert will feature the 2014 Muscat Canelli, showing sweet mango and honey with a racy finish.
The wines are made possible by the historic Besson Family Vineyards where dragon flies, hummingbirds and butterflies abound. White doves circling the vineyard are brilliant against the blue sky and lush green vines. Managed by George Besson Jr., and his lead foreman of fifteen years, Michael Alvarado, the vineyard is owned by the Besson’s family fourth generation of brothers: George, Denis, Joe and Jeff.
“My grandfather, Jean Augustine Besson, emigrated from France to America in the early 1900s,” explains George, Jr. “In 1925, Jean traveled from San Francisco all the way to Gilroy in a horse and buggy and purchased farmland on Hecker Pass. In the early 1950s, my father, George, Sr., acquired this 30-acre vineyard adjacent to the family farm – a beautiful emerald gem with the old vine grenache dating back to 1910. If you can survive for 100 years something must be right with Mother Nature.”
“Birichino is Besson’s largest customer,” continues Besson. “Our relationship is based on quality and friendship. We’re an old-school family where your word is your bond, making us well-aligned with John and Alex.
“Our old vines are dry farmed, head-pruned and maintained by hand. There is heart that goes into the harvest—a year long process of taking care of these vines. They cannot produce without the heart of the farmer. I learned from my grandfather and father, that great wine is all about the grapes and the marriage with the winemaker.” Denise Besson, a self-described farmer’s daughter, adds, ‘From vine to wine—we supply the best quality grapes to the winemakers. We are proud and very fortunate to have five generations reside on the properties.’”
Denevan, who will preside over the vineyard dinner, says, “There is a special chemistry between people who are profoundly interested in agriculture and community, sitting together at a long table. Birichino’s wines are some of the most outstanding wines of the Central coast, much of them made exclusively from the Besson family’s grapes. The outcome of these wines, paired with Chef Adam’s menu made from locally grown ingredients, will be a powerful culinary experience.”
Experience Birichino Winery’s Outstanding in the Field dinner at Besson Vineyards in Gilroy for $215 per ticket at 4pm on Thursday, June 29. For more information and to buy tickets, visit outstandinginthefield.com.