LDV Wine Gallery and Flights and Bites with Saffron JAK
Today is the second part of last week's interview with Peggy Fiandaca of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards. In November of 2014, LDV's downtown Scottsdale Wine Gallery and tasting room opened its doors. This charming, inviting spot has already proved popular with locals and visitors alike, and I learn more about the gallery from Peggy.
Why open the tasting room? "Growth, absolutely growth. We went from about 700 cases to 2000 cases in one year, so we made a huge leap in production. We wanted this to be an extension of the vineyard; a piece of the vineyard comes to Scottsdale. If you come to our vineyard, our place is so important to us. If we don’t take care of our land, we won’t produce a great bottle of wine. We truly believe in that connection, and this is an extension of that. For example, the rocks in the bar are from our vineyard - rhyolite, volcanic granite - and we have artifacts displayed that were found on our property."
What made you choose this location? We came to Scottsdale because this is where our market is. Our buyers are mostly in Arizona because we don’t ship yet. We do have a small distributor, but they just keep it in the state. This spot was so overgrown. I don’t know how long it had sat empty, but it was quite a long time. We just happened to say, this is it. We wanted a place with a patio, and here we have two. I’d like this to be the place where people hang out. Once we have enough of a crowd to justify it, I would love to get in live music. We both love jazz.
What would you like people to know? "We’re trying to get people to think about just popping in here. You don’t need to go to the grocery store. Drop in, get great wine. It’s so easy; we have a parking lot right in back. We have a special right now with our 6-pack recycled bags. Buy 6 bottles, bring your bag back and we'll refill it with a discount. It's a great idea that came from a customer. We also do a lot of gifts. I stock the things I would want to buy if I’m wine tasting - high-quality, interesting local gifts. I have dried lavender and lotions from the organic lavender farm up north, The Simple Farm's caramels, La Belle Terre culinary sugars, Beehive Chocolates, Eco Mama cleaning products, olive oils and vinegars. We also sell jewelry and art, which is why we call this a Wine Gallery. I've always loved theater and art, and I want to showcase Arizona artists. Art and wine just go together, in my opinion."
Are you also a venue for private events? "Yes, we're very flexible for special events. Tonight we have a law office networking tasting, and a meet-up group. We have 15 gals coming in on Saturday for a wine tasting, and 15 more coming in on Sunday. I've done a bridal shower for 60 people, a seated catered dinner on the patio for 50, and we’ve had 100 for cocktails. It's a lot of fun. We had a group of attorneys from Florida who were here for a convention and we held a workshop with Le Nez du Vins and the vials of scents. We both like to teach. "
My interview with Peggy coincided with the night Saffron JAK Pizza food truck was catering Flights and Bites. Every Thursday night, LDV welcomes a food truck to the Wine Gallery and $25.00 plus tax will buy you a wine flight plus food pairings. It's the perfect event to combine with the Thursday night Scottsdale ArtWalk. As Peggy explains, "My grandfather was a bootlegger, I’m of Sicilian Italian background, and I love to cook. I think that’s the journey both Curt and I have been on since we’ve been together for 24 years. All our trips have revolved around wine, where we’re going to eat, and trying to find chefs that were up and coming. That’s why it’s been so fun having the food trucks here. We love to find unique, creative restaurants and they're fabulous."
Saffron JAK Pizza food truck is run by brothers Jaymes and Jayson Khademi. The name is a nod to their background: Saffron because of their Persian heritage, JAK because those are the initials shared by the men on the paternal side, and pizza because it's something dad would make for Sunday brunch. But this is no ordinary pizza. They use a unique Persian flatbread called sangak, similar to naan but made with sourdough and sesame seeds. This creative approach to the menu shone in their food pairings for Flights and Bites.
The first course paired LDV’s aromatic 100% estate-grown Sky Island Viognier with colorful deviled eggs rosy-hued from beet juice, with the addition of avocado to lend a velvety creaminess to the yolk filling.
To accompany a bright and floral 2012 Viognier, tangy basil lebneh was plated with charred cherry tomatoes from the Vincent de Paul Urban Farm in downtown Phoenix, sangak crackers and addictive bread and butter pickled jalapeños.
A food-friendly 2012 Grenache accompanied the SideBar pizza - sangak layered with sweet bell peppers and marinated artichokes and crowned with salami rendered until crispy.
The final course partnered up The Signature Petite Sirah with frozen melon balls sitting on pepper honey with Bulgarian feta, saffron simple syrup, Middleastern Chocolate Surprise ( spiked with chile, sea salt, or mint) and almonds.
I mention to Jaymes he must love what he does. "It's so much fun," he says, "we like to get people to open their minds and get out of their comfort zone. We’re a food truck, but we do more than that. Even though it says pizza on the outside, we do Persian dinners and catering like this." When I comment on the excellent pickled jalapeños, he tells me how his family has always done a lot of canning with pickles and jams. "We make a lemon panna cotta that we top with a dab of our boysenberry-esspresso jam, garnish with a mint leaf, and finish with a few drops of fresh lemon juice. It really pops with flavor. " I bet! Favorite pizza? I ask. "I love our loaded baked potato pizza. If you’ve never had potato on a pizza, it’s the one to try. It’s made with crumbled baked Russet potato so you get a bit of the inside and a little of the skin for that textural difference which crisps up when it goes in the oven. It's topped with thick-cut bacon, cheddar cheese, and a yogurt ranch, and one of our most popular."
Wine tasting, shopping, classes, cozy patios, and delicious food trucks, what's not to love? Spend some time at the LDV Wine Gallery and see for yourself.