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Despite fire scare, Napa Valley icon Plumpjack Winery hosts VIP wine dinner in Dallas at iconic chef’s Dallas home


Despite wildfires ravaging their Northern California wine country, Plumpjack Winery (and its Odette and Cade siblings) sent cases of its best wines to Dallas for a VIP wine dinner they hosted last week at Dallas chef Kent Rathbun’s home.

The winery’s general manager, John Conover, remained in Napa to monitor conditions at Plumpjack, sending Leon Cikota, a most able ambassador, in his place.

Cikota, Vice President of Fine Wine & On Premise Wine at Republic National Distributing Company, which distributes Plumpjack, Odette and Cade wines throughout the region, noted that Plumpjack’s owners and Kent and Tracy Rathbun are longtime friends, “so of course we chose this beautiful home to host our Dallas friends,” a group of about thirty Plumpjack lovers who also frequent Shinsei restaurant, which Tracy co-owns with Lynae Fearing.

“These are exceptional wines that are primarily available only at the best restaurants,” Cikota told the group of the Plumpjack, Odette and Cade offerings. “You can’t just run down to the Kroger and pick these up.”

The wines included a half-dozen gems from each of the wineries’ recent vintages, plus a couple Plumpjack treats bottled a decade ago, each paired by Kent and Shinsei’s wine pro (and all-around good guy), Kelly Newman.

From hickory-smoked rabbit with jalapeño-Cheddar sausage (paired with 2014 Plumpjack syrah) to seared scallops with apple cider beurre blanc and roasted butternut squash (paired with Plumpjack’s hard-to-find 2015 chardonnay), Rathbun’s menu reminded us why he’s among the best at food and wine pairings. He’s a magician at balancing sweet and tart, buttery and acidity, richness and austerity.

“I think we have all of the chardonnay bottles allocated to Texas on this one table,” Rathbun said, “so we needed to do it right.”

Tracy noted that it’s rare to drink wines from all three of Plumpjack’s wineries at a single dinner.  “I guess it helps that Shinsei serves more Cade than any other restaurant in the country,” she said.

Hiller attended the dinner as an invited guest of Plumpjack Winery

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