By Debbie Arrington
Auburn's Scott Pruett, arguably America's winningest road racer, has had plenty to celebrate, including his record fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona victory last month.
But at 6 p.m. Saturday night, the race-car driver-turned-vintner toasts something totally different: His first winemaker's dinner featuring his homegrown Pruett Vineyards wines.
A few seats remain for this special event at Carpe Vino restaurant in old town Auburn.
"There is absolutely no question that winning nine races in 2010 and my fourth Grand-Am Championship is a career-defining accomplishment," Pruett said. "But bottling the first vintage of Pruett Vineyard as a bonded winery with my wife, Judy, is as personally satisfying as any of my greatest moments in racing."
The Pruetts grow their own grapes and handle all the aspects of the winemaking. They personally hand-bottle the wine. This first release includes five wines under two brands, Pruett Vineyard and Section 8.
"We've got a relationship with (Scott), so we're hoping we'll have another wine dinner," said Gary Moffat of Carpe Vino, "but probably not until the release of his next vintage."
Although there was a brief snow flurry Friday, the Auburn weather forecast for Saturday night is good, Moffat added.
Carpe Vino chef Eric Alexander created a five-course menu, paired with four wines from Pruett Vineyard in the Sierra Foothills overlooking Auburn plus one from Russian River Valley.
The menu starts with seared Japanese hamachi (young yellowtail tuna) with a 2009 Cartograph gewurztraminer, followed by Angus steak tartare paired with the 2009 Pruett Vineyard grenache, roasted Muscovy duck breast with Pruett's 2008 Section 8 "Lucky Lauren Red" syrah-blend and wild boar tenderloin with 2008 Section 8 "Commando" cabernet sauvignon. Dessert includes Explorateur cheese plate and pumpkin crepes with the 2008 Pruett Vineyard "Folie" syrah.
With one of his cars parked in front of the restaurant, Pruett will host the dinner, talking about his winemaking as well as sharing stories from his racing career. Bottles of his new releases also will be available for sale and Pruett will autograph them on request.
Tickets ($99) are available through the restaurant; call (530) 823-0320. For more about the restaurant and directions, go to www.carpevino.com.
To order Pruett Vineyard wines, visit its web site at www.pruettvineyards.com.