Take your Valentine’s Day celebration to the next level

Skip the reservations and crowds and show your valentine how much you value them with a romantic dinner at home. Our Director of Hospitality, Dave Rice, is sharing his Valentine’s Day go-to easy, romantic dinner menu and some of his favorite Chehalem wines to pair with the meal.

“We have a saying in our household that food is love. When we take the time to prepare a meal for each other, whether it is simple or extravagant, the overall point is to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. I have been married for 40 years and we do a variety of things for each other on Valentine’s Day, I will leave small gifts like chocolates or a card in different places that might be found throughout the day. Then we stay home for dinner, and try to keep it casual, and have fun cooking and spending time together.”

“I selected three wines for our Valentine’s meal. My wife likes white, so I chose for her our Grüner Veltliner, a beautiful Austrian origin grape that will pair perfectly with the roast pork and broccoli.  Grüner is a great selection to add to your meal because not many wines pair well with green vegetables, but Grüner is one of them.  I enjoy red wine, so I chose our Corral Creek Pinot Noir because it is earthy, fragrant and will pair well with the roast pork and rice pilaf.  The pilaf has toasted pine nuts and the pinot will complement the nuttiness of the dish. We will finish our meal with Sext, a semi-sparkling Riesling. Sext is a very tart, refreshing and slightly sweet wine that will be wonderful with the chocolate dipped strawberries and brownies.  My philosophy on wine pairing is to complement your dishes as opposed to contrast too much, you want the wines not to over shadow the food and vice versa.  If you have fattier food you want wine that is a little bit lighter and acidic, if you have light and delicate food, you want a wine that is not too big and bold and expressive for the food itself.”

Fennel Salad
paired with 2017 Ridgecrest Vineyard Grüner Veltliner


  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 can Mandarin orange, drained
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Core the fennel bulb, discarding the green stalk. Quarter and thinly slice the bulb. Combine orange juice, olive oil, pepper and salt. Marinate fennel slices for at least 2 hours in refrigerator. Add the Mandarin orange and serve.

Roasted Broccoli
paired with 2017 Ridgecrest Vineyard Grüner Veltliner


  • 1 ½ lb. broccoli
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced thickly
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 450′ F. Cut the florets from the stalk leaving 1-2 inches of stalk, discard the rest. Slice the larger floret stalks lengthwise. Combine olive oil, pepper and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the florets and garlic to the bowl, coating well. Spread the florets and garlic slices over a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes until florets are crisp and lightly browned.

Tip: Minced garlic distributes the flavor more fully in this dish. When sauteing garlic, be very careful not to burn it. The flavor turns intensely bitter, and you’ll have to start over.

Orzo and Rice Pilaf with Pine Nuts
paired with 2017 Ridgecrest Vineyard Grüner Veltliner
or 2016 Corral Creek Pinot Noir


  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup Basmati or Jasmine rice
  • ½ cup orzo pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese

Melt the butter in a large, wide saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion, and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the rice and orzo, cooking for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in 2 cups of water and a dash of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a small saucepan until golden. Add the pine nuts to the pilaf and serve with grated cheese.


Tip: Sometimes a recipe will call for a certain size of pan, don’t buy a new one – use aluminum foil to resize to keep your pan juices from drying out.

Sage & Thyme Roasted Pork Tenderloin
paired with 2017 Ridgecrest Vineyard Grüner Veltliner
or 2016 Corral Creek Pinot Noir


  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 500′ F. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl with the olive oil, and mix well. Pat tenderloin dry and place on a foil line small casserole dish, something that will fit the meat with little remaining space. Coat the tenderloin liberally with the olive oil mixture. Roast the tenderloin in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the over, scrape any of the excess marinade into a bowl. Flip the tenderloin and apply the reserved marinade, adding a bit more oil if necessary. Return to the oven and roast 20 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and loosely with the foil to rest until ready to serve. Slice ½ inch medallions and drizzle with pan drippings before serving to serve.


Tip: I always try to make my dessert the night before. It frees up the oven, clean up is easier and my night is less stressful.

paired with 2016 Ridgecrest Vineyard Sext Riesling


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp. Cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350′ F. Blend the sugar, oil, eggs, cocoa and vanilla. Add flour thoroughly mixing. Add nuts (if using). Spread into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until a fork or toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
paired with 2016 Ridgecrest Vineyard Sext Riesling

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp coconut oil or unsalted butter

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Wash and dry strawberries well with paper towels to make sure chocolate adheres perfectly. Heat chocolate chips and coconut oil/or butter in microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes on 50% heat. Stir until smooth. Dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate, making sure the strawberry is covered almost to the stem. Place chocolate covered strawberry onto parchment lined baking sheet and place into the freezer for at least 15 minutes to set. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Dave and his Valentine, Ann on their wedding day in 1979

Cheers & Happy Valentines Day!