Story and Photos by Eric Ladd ExploreBigSky.com staff writer
A late March weekend escape to The Ranch at Rock Creek would always be a pleasure; add a three-day wine and fly-fishing event and you have a Montana paradise: Wine on the Fly. Third-generation winemaker and passionate fisherman, Brian Lamborn, founded Wine on the Fly, and 2013 was the first year the event came to The Ranch at Rock Creek.
The combination of an intimate setting, talented Napa winemakers, four miles of private fishing waters on Rock Creek and the hospitality of a Relais Chateaux resort made for an unforgettable weekend. Chef Drage painstakingly created custom dinners to pair with each wine.
Night one featured wine from Lamborn Family Vineyards, a Howell Mountain Napa winery that touts Heidi Barrett as the winemaker. Brian Lamborn’s laidback style and diehard passion for fishing made his presentation of the vineyard’s prized reds entertaining and sincere. With four generations of the Lamborn Family now helping with the operation, this label is becoming known for quality reds.
Night two was presented by Marc and Janice Mondavi of Charles Krug vineyard. The Mondavi family needs no introduction at a wine event – they own the first vineyard established in Napa Valley – and having Marc Mondavi present in a small restaurant setting was a treat. Mondavi’s wine presentation of the Charles Krug label, paired with a five-course fish dinner, was full of stories and tales from his family’s wine history.
Night three concluded with Austrian wine maker Rudy von Strasser of the von Strasser Winery. His Diamond Mountain vineyard and winery mixes quality, science and passion and is a must-stop for any Napa goer. When von Strasser wasn’t recounting tales of his Grateful Dead touring days, he told of his journey into winemaking and the comrade scene of the Napa winemakers.
The Ranch at Rock Creek is a 6,000-acre private lodge touted as one of the finest guest ranches in the world. Guests enjoy activities from sporting clays, to horseback riding, to a four-lane bowling alley. The Silver Dollar Saloon, on-property, is a magnet for late-night pool games, movies showings in the private theater and bar tales. Year-round hospitality and an all-inclusive approach under the experienced management of Marc and Thomas Kilgore assures guests the stay of a lifetime.
As the weekend came to a close, negotiations were already underway for scheduling the 2014 Wine on the Fly. Dates will be announced soon, and there’s a strong chance it will return to The Ranch at Rock Creek. Reserve your seat and rod before it’s too late.
For more information on The Ranch at Rock Creek, visit theranchatrockcreek.com
Three ‘favorite’ wines from the weekend:
2011 – Charles Krug, Chardonnay, Carneros
Paired with Olive Oil-Poached Neah Bay Sable Fish, this quality wine was a match made in heaven.
2008 – Lamborn Vintage VI, Cabernet Sauvignon
Like Lamborn’s Zinfandel, this is a 100 percent varietal (all Cab, not a blend) and is 100 percent estate-grown (Mr. Lamborn still does all of the farming himself). It’s a big cabernet, yet elegant in style.
2006 – Von Strasser – Estate Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon
Bold wine that helps explain the complex nature of Diamond Mountain wines; amazing when paired with elk steak.