Summer Vineyard Party


This post is sponsored by Cambria

In our house, summer is best spent outside.  Partially because of the gorgeous weather, and partially because in our century-old house, there is no a/c and most of the time, it’s cooler outside in the shade of our wooded backyard. Regardless of my reasons, I think we can all agree that outdoor parties are part of what makes summer summer.

You guys have seen that I host sit-down dinner parties pretty often, but the majority of the parties we have start small. One friend stops by after work, then another sees some cars in the driveway and stops by, then before you know it, we’ve got anywhere from six to fourteen people pouring drinks, the music is pumping and the grill is firing up something we’ve pulled out of our fridge.

At these parties, I usually create something on the fly and 9 times out of 10, it’s something I originally planned as a meal for our week, but have decided to serve it up as heavy apps. So, in short, just a bunch of snacks. For this particular Thursday night gathering, I did exactly that, and paired it up with Cambria 2012 Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – which is known for pairing well with a lot.


The base for the menu was simple – a lump of pizza dough got turned into grilled flatbreads (topped with roasted tomatoes), a pair of filet mignons I had were sliced into filet skewers (with horseradish sauce), and some salad ingredients made their way onto slices of bread for a summery bruschetta.

I wanted it to pair well with the wine, so I employed a little wine pairing trick.  The trick is simple enough – research the ‘notes’ in the wine and think of what you’d usually eat with those notes.  For example, if the wine has red fruit notes, what would you normally eat with red fruits? Salad? Roasted meats? Pizza (tomatoes are a fruit!).  That is the direction I went in.  The flatbreads were topped with slow roasted tomatoes, the filet was rubbed with spices and served pretty naked, and the salad was tossed with red raspberry dressing before being arranged atop some sliced bread.

I roasted the tomatoes and cooked the flatbreads (separately) as people were hanging out, then passed off the meat to Matt to grill up.  A quick tossed salad and everything was basically ready.  I topped the flatbread with the tomatoes and with gruyere cheese then put them on the grill for a minute to crisp them up and melt the cheese. If you’re interested in the full recipe, hop on over to the Cambria blog where I’ll be sharing them in detail!

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When it came to the table setting, I totally took the easy way out.  Our harvest table which I made last fall was covered with a runner I stole from my dining room table.  Then, I arranged a couple of my potted herbs down the center of the table.  Of course, we’re not actually in a vineyard, but with a table set in the middle of the yard, is sure felt that way!

The food was just served on wooden cutting boards and we used some easy appetizer plates to dish up the snacks.

It seems ornate, but just a simple table cloth or runner and a center plant is really all it takes to turn an unplanned event into a party.  You could ask every one of my friends, as soon as I know it’s going to turn into a party, I set it up like one.  I’m just a sucker for ambiance and I think it makes a huge difference to how long people stick around and how much fun the night turns out to be.

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Everything on the table went into the wooden crate (that you can see in some of the pics) when we cleaned up and went inside in one trip. It was a super relaxing night with just the right amount of bites and wine.

So, now it’s your turn!  Tell me your go-to way to party in the summer!



Photos were taken by my amazing friend, Allie from The Wonder Jam.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cambria Vineyard.  Thank you so much for continuing the support the brands that I love and that keep me fueled to share fresh, creative content with you!

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