Chalk Hill – An Iconic Sonoma Vineyard

A seat at a Sawgrass wine dinner is highly prized. They sell out almost immediately, and Chalk Hill was no different. The tables were full of guests anticipating wonderful courses by Chef de Cuisine, Ben Brett, each paired beautifully with Chalk Hill wines. If you haven’t signed up for a wine dinner yet, look for opportunities on Foretees. They are normally on Wednesday and Thursday nights and possibly Friday if it’s a well-known popular brand. The dinners are a great way to taste wines, enjoy new dishes prepared especially for the dinner, and get information about the vineyard…all while relaxing with friends. Chances are you’ll leave knowing more friends than when you got there!

Brittany Darling and Bo Cure

My guide and helper was our own Bo Cure. He is the Sawgrass in-house wine expert. His official title is Wine and Beverage Manager, but he is also a Sommelier and his knowledge shows it! His rapport with both guests and the Chalk Hill representative was confident and comfortable. Bo not only coordinates the wine dinners but he also determines what wines Sawgrass serves on each menu.

Chalk Hill Wines

My husband and I got to experience our first wine dinner experience last night featuring four wines from the Chalk Hill Estate; Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Chalk Hill “Estate” Pinot Noir, Chalk Hill “Estate Red,” and Chalk Hill Red Wine. We’ll talk about the food pairings in a bit, but first a little background on Chalk Hill.

Chalk Hill Estate

Welcome to Chalk Hill Valley. Elevation: 450, Population: 2. This sign is proudly placed at the entrance of Bill Foley’s 1,200 acre Chalk Hill Estate. It speaks to their friendly and family oriented atmosphere. Chalk Hill is located between the cool Russian River appellation and the warm Alexander Valley. The diversity of the Chalk Hill topography creates a broad spectrum of different sites across which can be planted both red and white varieties. The lower, cooler sites are perfect for Chardonnay while the steeper, warmer, south-facing slopes are superbly suited to ripen Bordeaux varietals.

Chalk Hill Wines

According to Marketing Director Denise Roach, “With over 150 accolades, Chalk Hill has earned its place as being one of Sonoma County’s iconic vineyards.” The vineyard manager, Mark, has been with the vineyard for 40 years meticulously managing the growing and harvesting process. He knows when to groom, when to water, when to taste, and finally when to harvest the different types of grapes to ensure a great beginning to wine.

Next the winemakers take over. Truly it is an art form. Their newest winemaker, Courtney Foley, is adding to the unique heritage that defines Chalk Hill. With an estate-wide, shared aesthetic, the winemaking process is light-handed, non-invasive, and sustainable, allowing each bottle to emulate the essence of the vineyard.

More than Wine

There is more to see at Chalk Hill Vineyards beyond the vineyard and wines. The Estate Pavilion is a gorgeous event space overlooking an Olympic-sized dressage riding arena. While this space is large and open, Meghan’s Chapel is a smaller, more intimate gathering space perfect for weddings and events.

In addition to growing grape varietals, Chalk Hill boasts gourmet produce, meats, and poultry. The culinary program is a natural extension of their agricultural heritage. The extensive organic gardens provide the Estate Executive Chef with a bounty of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables including many heritage varieties – that are used in specially-created dishes designed to showcase their wines.

Chalk Hill Wine Dinner

First Course – Seafood Gocce Scampi. The dish included royal red shrimp, dungeness crab, snow crab, herb gocce, and basil butter. The small hand-made cheese-filled pastas were paired brilliantly with the shrimp. Everyone at the table loved the first course! It was paired with the Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2017.

Shrimp starter

Second Course – Veal Marsala. The veal was tender and full of flavor! Florida trumpet marsala, arugula, truffle vinaigrette, and baby carrots accompanied the veal. The second dish was paired with Chalk Hill “Estate” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2015.

Veal main dish

Third Course – 1855 Prime Ribeye “Eye.” This was my favorite course! The meat was seared in an 1800 degree oven and plated with roasted marble potatoes, chargrilled “Lini’s,” and topped with a cherry glaze. I believe you could top just about anything with the cherry glaze, and I would LOVE to see it featured on a menu item in the future. This course was accompanied by Chalk Hill “Estate Red,” Chalk Hill Appellation, 2015.

Beef main dish

Dessert – The Chocolate Bomba. For dessert, Chef Ben went above and beyond. I wasn’t sure what the dessert was at first glance, but it was amazing! Imagine a scope of vanilla and chocolate mousse covered in hardened chocolate with a blackberry gastrique surrounding the dessert. It was pure heaven to crack the chocolate shell and dive into the cold soft creamy mousse. Dessert was served with the Chalk Hill Red Wine, Sonoma Coast 2016.

Chocolate dessert at wine dinner

Want more access to wine?

The wine dinners are so fun! We had a ball getting to know the couples at our table and discussing some of our favorite wines and wineries we’ve visited. But if you’re not into wine dinners, there are other ways you can benefit from Bo’s expertise.

  • Order from Bo directly – Is there a wine that you tasted and loved on date night? Call Bo, and he can order you a case. He’ll probably suggest another wine for you to try based on your order and overall palette.
  • Uncorked – As a member of Uncorked, members receive a discounted price for all wine dinners. In addition, Uncorked members enjoy a list of phenomenal wines that are all $20. Bo chooses the wines on this list. He’s also available for consultations for uncorked members. Are you hosting a Christmas party and want to chat about which wines to serve? Call Bo. Do you want to host a wine tasting at your house, call Bo. He can recommend wines and appetizers that will add to the flavors of the wine.
  • Chairman’s Club – If you need even more access to great wine, join the Chairman’s Club. You probably saw an email go out about it recently. There are two levels of membership, two bottle per month or four bottles per month. All bottles are premium wines picked by Bo for our members.

Wine is meant to be enjoyed with friends, and wine dinners are the perfect setting if trying new wines and featured dishes is your thing. We hope to see YOU at the next wine dinner!

New Menu Items at the Beach Club

The Sawgrass Beach Club menu is amazing. It’s a combination of great flavors and has both elegant and casual offerings that work for a quick dinner or a special occasion meant to be savored. I’m impressed that the staff, especially Perry and Ben, listen to suggestions from members as well as dieting trends and seasonal produce when introducing new dishes.

Brittany Darling

My husband,Cory, and I got to experience a few of the new menu items recently, and loved our experience. Or was it that we were eating dinner without our kids? We’ll say it was the great food AND peace and quiet! Our server, Nikole, was amazing as usual. Very professional and knowledgeable!

Let’s start with wine.

What great dinner doesn’t start with wine? We ordered the new Pinot Noir on the menu, Pinot Noir-Soter “North Valley,” Willamette Valley. The first thing I noticed was the aromas of plum and black pepper. It finishes a bit tart and citrusy, but overall it was a nice light wine that we felt we could pair with seafood. And we did!

Appetizer course

For our appetizer, we chose the Croque Monsieur Sliders. I have made something similar at home, but these are WAY better then my version. Not even comparable, really. Picture a soft sweet Hawaiian roll, shaved smoked ham, melted Gruyere cheese, and a creamy bechamel sauce dripping off the top. They were the best kind of messy! We received four in our order, so it’s definitely shareable as a starter or enough for a whole meal for one person.

Ham and cheese sliders

The appetizer we almost ordered was the Korean BBQ Pork Totchos, a wonderful blend of crispy tater tots, kim-chi slaw, gochujang aioli, and green onion. But we happened to run into friends, Jack and Julie Francis, on the way out that ordered it. Don’t you love running into friendly faces at the club? Whether it’s at the gym or beach club, we always seem to run into a couple or family that we know. They loved the appetizer and described it by saying, “It’s phenomenal! I hope they add a breakfast version with two fried eggs on top!” Guess we’ll have to try it next time to confirm!

Dinner course

Dinner was next. My husband, Cory, ordered the Grouper and Shrimp Mixed Grill. Florida black grouper and royal red shrimp were the stars with herb roasted potatoes, asparagus, and a basil cream sauce rounding out the dish. I had a few bites, and the fish was cooked perfectly!

Fish and shrimp main course

I ordered the Fennel Scallops with Beet Quinoa. Not only was my dish plated beautifully, but it tasted great, too. The scallops were cooked perfectly, and the beet quinoa was delicious. The quinoa did not have an overwhelming taste of beets, but it is present. However, the beets gave it a gorgeous shade of purple, and it ended up being a great balance with the cooked carrots and scallops. I would definitely order it again.

Shrimp main course

Finishing the night with dessert

We finished the night with another glass of Pinot and dessert. If you’re a fan of chocolate, try the new Chocolate Pots De Creme. It is enough to share between two people, possibly a table of four if everyone just wants a few bites. The chocolate was rich and creamy combined with a light and fluffy chantilly cream and a sweet and crunchy piece of almond biscotti. It was heavenly! We ate every bit of it!

Chocolate dessert

At the end of the night, we both had a smile on our face. Our dinner was wonderful, and we were able to connect as a couple and enjoy conversation. We are so thankful for Sawgrass and the opportunities to not only have great date nights, but to build relationships with other families and couples.

Cheers! We hope to run into you on our next wild and crazy night out! 🙂

Meet Brittany Darling. Mom, Tennis Novice, and Sawgrass Member

Be adventurous, and embrace change. That’s been my motto as far back as I can remember. It’s not easy, but it’s oh so rewarding!

Brittany Darling & Wyatt Darling

Hi, I’m Brittany Darling. I am a married mom of two crazy little boys, Will (8) and Wyatt (5). They are my pack, and they bring limitless joy (and frustration!) to our lives. My husband, Cory, and I moved to Ponte Vedra from Nashville, TN in December of 2017 four days before Christmas. It’s not the first time we’ve moved right before Christmas…call us crazy!

Our time in Nashville was wonderful. It truly is Music City. If you’re planning a trip there, let me know. I can give you the scoop on venues, restaurants, and places to stay. While in Nashville, I worked at a media agency as a blog strategist part time, and my husband worked as a hospital administrator. When we found out Florida was our next stop, the adventure seeker in me said, “Let’s go!” Our boys were all in, too. They were excited to be near the beach and to meet new friends at their school, which turned out to be Ocean Palms Elementary.

Cory Darling & Will Darling

We joined Sawgrass in March of this year. It has been the best decision we’ve made since moving here. We have loved every minute! From the beach, golf, tennis, and social events, our family has embraced the club and dived into activities. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things. That person who starts a random conversation at the pool? Yep, that’s me. I believe in building a village in the place where you land, whether it’s Ponte Vedra, FL or Nashville, TN. I believe in investing in others and helping them how I can. I know what it’s like to move to a new community and not know anyone, so I have a tender place in my heart for welcoming new neighbors to our street and new members to the club.

Brittany Darling & Wyatt Darling

Here’s some other interesting facts about me and my family:

Why have you guys moved so much? What’s your favorite place so far?
My husband now works for Memorial Hospital as their Chief Operating Officer. It’s owned by HCA, and we’ve moved around to different HCA hospitals over the years. I love moving to new places, meeting new people, and discovering new activities. So far, this is our favorite place. We feel like we’re on vacation all the time!

What do you all like to do in your spare time?
We all like to play tennis! I play on the D-Team at Sawgrass, and Cory plays singles and doubles when he has time. He’s also a golfer! Our kids love the beach, pool, and they participate in tennis and golf clinics as time allows. My little guy, Wyatt, also plays soccer. When we’re not enjoying the club, you’ll find us fishing, kayaking, or exploring a new area of town!

What do you like most about Sawgrass?
I love how friendly Sawgrass is, and I love that there are so many families with young children like ours. Every week, I meet a new family! I appreciate all the women I’ve met (of all ages). There is something special about the wisdom from women who were in your shoes at one time.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?
I am really good at frying okra. Growing up in Alabama, we fried everything, but fried okra is my favorite! I’m good at putting together workout routines, too. I’m always looking for someone to workout with, so call me up if your headed to the fitness center!

Flashback to when you were 10 years old. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I always wanted to do something with math, my favorite subject. As I got older I decided that I wanted to be a financial planner, but that didn’t work out! But my love of numbers eventually collided with marketing and writing. I love the numbers side of marketing! Creative is important, but you have to know if what you’re doing is working, and numbers tell you that.

If you see me around the club, say hi! Each month, I’ll be experiencing new activities around the club and giving members an inside scoop!