Friday, June 12, 2009

R.H. Phillips, I Hardly Knew Ye…

Late last summer, I was hired at R.H. Phillips Winery as a special events chef. From the moment I drove up the path to the vineyard, production facility, and tasting room, I felt like I was home and that I belonged there! The road leading to RHP is saturated with grapevines on either side, and a wooden sign with the Toasted Head Bear tells you the winery is one mile ahead.

It has been an amazing opportunity to showcase my culinary ideas and practice my kitchen skills for a future full time job in the food & wine industry. As most of you know, the winery and tasting room will soon be closing. They will be honoring all the special events commitments through October, but after that, the Esparto tasting room and production facilities are to no longer exist.

In addition to grapes, we have fig & olive trees, and an herb and vegetable garden onsite. It was so special for me to incorporate produce grown at the winery and from the Capay Valley (less than 5 miles away) into the dishes the other chefs and I made to showcase the Toasted Head wines.

Look at this place... what a waste to close it. I don't understand at all. Such a beautiful and unique facility. A little far away from Sacramento, but worth every minute of the drive every time I came into work… So many fond memories and not even a year working there: Walking over and smelling the giant rosemary bush (or all the other herbs); Marveling at the fig trees that I never saw when I lived in Ohio; Standing in the kitchen and prepping TONS of vegetables for a wedding; My boss Liz always showing me a faster way to do just about anything; All the smiling faces of my coworkers in the tasting room, the kitchen, and the production facility... I have been blessed to have had this opportunity and I wish it didn't have to end.

From the RHP website:
"our winery is off the beaten path, making it an essential destination for adventurous wine lovers."

Of course, I am not the only one who loves this place and wishes it to remain open. Here are some words from winery patrons, compiled by my coworkers in the tasting room:

R.H. Phillips Tasting Room Testimonials

"The R.H. Phillips tasting room is a pillar of the Western Yolo County community. It is an extremely valuable asset to us, and should stay!"
--Matt & Roberta Trask, Capay, CA

"R.H. Phllips has been a major part of our community. Yolo Arts Council and Slow Foods events were held here. Our family has had their weddings here. Our friends gather here. We've taken cooking classes here. This business and agricultural setting have been a significant contribution to Yolo County. Leaving us will leave a tremendous void."
--Catherine Portman & Bruce Shellhammer

"This winery was one of our favorite places to spend time in during the weekend!"
--Oleg & Iryna, Los Gatos, CA and Tim & Lana, Davis, CA

"My husband and I attended John and Layne Giguierre's wedding on these grounds before the winery was built (about 38 years ago). We came here often after the winery was built and loved the beauty of the area, the beauty of the winery itself and the good wines. After my husband passed away four years ago, I continued to come here with friends for many events. It is a very sad day for Yolo County to have to winery closed.
[ . . .] Come and see/experience it to know why it should continue to showcase agriculture in our county."
--Myrtis Hadden, Woodland, CA

"[R.H. Phillips' Tasting Room] is local and a class act! [It's] a place we can proudly bring out-of-towners who always enjoy the food, wine, and laid back atmosphere. [We have] memories of celebrations, revelations, and expectations of a good time!"
--Susan Slover & Michael Murphy

"We have been coming here for years to taste and [for] the lunch on 1st Saturday of the month. This is an ideal place to come to. Better than the "Napa Area" as this is a "home" type operation. [They are] very nice to the people who do come here. We have told and brought many here. [. . .] the people who work here are top notch! PLEASE keep this place open!! We have been members of the wine club for years, [we would] hate to stop because of the closing of this tasting room."
--Albion Murphy, Mary Murphy, John Burnett, Audrey B. Isaacson, Jetta J. Bernett, JK Isaacson; Vacaville, CA

"What a colossal shame to close this lovely facility. It is going to be a loss to this community. No more 1st Saturday wine and food pairings, no more weddings and receptions, no more fund raisers for community organizations [. . . .]"
--Hilder Murphy

"Please keep this open—this is a wonderful example of venue, tasting room, local focus—represents the accessibility of an amazing region, wonderful views, and actual location that represent Yolo County bounty is not worth losing! This is a center for folks to enjoy [. . . ]. Please save the tasting room."
--Sherri Venezia

"This entire facility is important to Yolo County—as a venue for events and for representing the agricultural community!"

"The setting and experience has been wonderful; we don't like to see it end."
--annual visitors from Iowa

Readers, please feel free to leave any comments you might have here on my blog and I will forward them to the appropriate people.

In closing, of course I am now looking for work either part or full time in the wine/food/hospitality industry. Please let me know of any opportunities available. I am ready to help make your business or event a delicious success. Contact me via email: cakegrrl(nospace)2007atgmaildotcom.


CautiousOptimist said...

Such a sad ending for a great place. Another tragic sign of the times... :(

John J Salengo said...

We too, my wife and I made many visits ever some friends took us there about 6 years ago. The tasting room became a monthly destination for us. Perhaps another winery such as Kathy Joseph's Fiddlehead Fern Winery of Davis could take it over. Damn these money-grubbing corporations.