Photo Credit: Damion Hamilton
Earlier this week, an intimate group of Napa’s elite descended on the green croquet lawns at Meadowood Napa Valley. For the second year in a row, Krug partnered with the lodge to host a festive and fabulous croquet tournament. Guests were instructed to wear croquet whites to the invite-only event that begin on a sunny Sunday at 11 am. Once the 32 invitees had all arrived, Meadowood’s cheeky and approachable croquet pro, Mike McDonnell had the group line up single file on the edge of the field for an impromptu croquet lesson.
“The first thing you need to learn about croquet,” McDonnell explained, “is the classic croquet pose.” He then assumed a position in which one leg is crossed over the other foot, one hand on your hip, and the other leaning on the croquet mallet. After a quick teaching that included the proper technique for whacking a black, blue, red, or yellow ball (resist the urge to hit with your wrists!), a run through of the correct order of hitting the balls through the wickets, and a demonstration of an incredibly difficult backward jump shot, Mike split the group up into teams of two. To encourage mingling and a lively spirit of competition, couples were separated. Once paired, team members had to come up with a creative name for their group. Names included The Krugaholics, Wick Ass, The Great Eights, and Chocolate Love.
From there, it was time to get down to business and start the tournament. Four teams battled it out on each of the four croquet lawns. Players were encouraged to yell for Mike “who would appear in a minute like a lighting bolt” to answer questions and resolve disputes. The Krug flowed freely through out the tournament as did an assortment of delectable bites (compressed watermelon with smoky pistachios, spoonfuls of cool oysters topped with caviar and uni, and lobster arancini to name a few) from Meadowood’s estate kitchen. After three rounds of croquet, the highest scorers participated in a shoot off. Whoever could get their ball closest to the magnum of Krug that serves as the tournaments ‘cup’ would win. Prizes included accommodations to stay at Meadowood for next year’s tournament and an exclusive trip to Krug’s facilities in France. For the second year in a row, Meadowood’s Director of Wine & Cuisine and Executive Hotel Manager, Patrick Davila, and his partner Marion Groetschel, the owner of Margo Cellars, won in the shoot off.
By this point, the group had worked up a ravenous appetite, so everyone sat down under a wooden structure built specifically for the event to enjoy a meal served family style. Taken Winery’s Josh Phelps chatted about being named one of Forbe’s 30 Under 30 in the food and wine industry with Krug’s brand ambassador Garth Hodgdon. Fashion designer Karen Caldwell, sporting her own chic draped off-white dress and a pretty green sash tied in her hair, and her husband, Oliver discussed the current state of wine and art in the Bay Area. Davila promised, half jokingly, that he won’t win next year.
The delicious meal included an assortment of cooling salads with produce grown in the Meadowood garden. Crunchy cucumbers were combined with radishes, yogurt, and dill. Perfectly cooked beets were tossed with local goat cheese and bright green pistachios. Butter lettuce and avocado was piled high with lump Dungeness crab meat. For the main course, guests nibbled on scrumptious melt-in-your-mouth duck breast and confit, crispy flaky king salmon, and a decadent mascarpone risotto with black truffles and foie emulsion. Four different kinds of Krug were poured during the luncheon: the Grand Cuvee, the Rose, and vintages 2003 and 2000. For dessert, chilled bowls of stiff whipped cream with strawberries floating in the pillows of white were passed table side. After lunch, the Krug continued to be poured as a folk band from Arkansas played cheerful tunes.