Kestrel Vintners’ Second Annual Big Night: An Elevated Evening of Food, Wine and Entertainment

Exotic belly dancers, a serenade of Spanish guitar, gourmet foods from across the Mediterranean, exquisite wines and an eclectic variety of live entertainment were all on the menu at Kestrel Vintners’ second annual “The Big Night in Washington Wine Country.” Collaborating with world-class chefs and renowned entertainers, this year’s event was no runner-up.

Stepping off the shuttle straight into Kestrel’s old growth vineyard, The Big Night attendees were greeted by a smiling staff, each of which were busily outfitting guests with wine glasses and the pour of their choice. Mingling down the vineyard towards a lengthy buffet of Mediterranean antipastos, guests reveled in the exotic colors, sounds, tastes and smells that transported them from Prosser, Wash., to a region an ocean and land mass away.

Guests plated up on skewers of lamb, exotic salads, warmed pita bread and more as they sipped, savored and schmoozed during the first part of The Big Night. Surprise entertainment emerged in the vineyard with the entrance of the exotic and sultry Sultana Dancers. Live performance drummers set the beat for this belly dancing troupe as they gracefully gyrated through the dust, balancing swords atop their heads and wowing the crowd with their intricately embellished outfits.

As the buffet table cleared, guests were ushered through the vineyard down a red carpet to their seating assignments where they would enjoy the second act of the evening: a gourmet, five-course tour through the Mediterranean. Indulging in cuisines from Spain to Turkey, a collaborative of renowned chefs took their dinner guests on an edible tour, elevating their experience by pairing gourmet food with a variety of Kestrel’s sumptuous wines and accenting each course with thematic and regional live music.

Hailing from Cedarbrook Lodge were top- notch chefs Mark Bodinet and Roy Breiman dishing up the first two courses: an heirloom tomato gazpacho and charcoal grilled octopus served atop a bed of olive oil braised fennel and salted capers, gently paired with Kestrel’s 2012 Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Next was fare from Morocco with seafood b’stilla prepared by Kestrel’s own resident chef, Jessica Smith. Delicate and buttery, this savory pie was good enough to eat solo but came to life when accompanied with Kestrel’s 2009 Sangiovese. Walla Walla Community College’s Director of Culinary Arts, Dan Thiessen, brought along six of his students to show off their skills with zucchini fritters and a bulgar wheat and parsley tabbouleh. Theissen’s sides were the perfect companion for Salumi Salami’s chef Armandino Batali’s Tuscany inspired course of savory spit-roasted lamb and stuffed porchetta. These fragrant sides and melt in your mouth meats went down even easier with Kestrel’s 2009 Malbec and Estate Cabernet.

Upon his plating presentation, Theissen made it known how honored he felt to be a part of an event of this caliber. “The Big Night sets the bar high for what is possible when great minds get together and think outside the box,” Theissen said.

From this attendee’s point of view, Kestrel’s The Big Night is a true display of thematic and choreographed entertainment entwined with gourmet food and excellent wines. “The Big Night is a time to celebrate the new harvest with people passionate about gourmet food paired with great wines,” JJ Compeau, Kestrel’s General Manager, said. “We want our guests walking away and saying, ‘WOW!’”

Guests may have to wait another year before they can spend another extravagant evening in Kestrel’s vineyard, but Compeau encourages food and wine lovers to visit Kestrel Vintners’ winery where Chef Jessica prepares gourmet foods paired perfectly with Kestrel’s outstanding wines year round. After all, it doesn’t have to be The Big Night, to be a great night.