You know it’s spring at King Estate when sheep are in the vineyard (helping both to mow and fertilize), daffodils adorn the fields and tables, and The Restaurant at King Estate resumes serving dinner seven days a week. Soon visitors will be enjoying wine and sunshine on the terrace overlooking an acre of lavender and hundreds more of slowly-ripening grapes.
With the changing of the seasons comes a changing of the menu. King Estate’s commitment to sustainability is as evident in the kitchen as it is the vineyard, orchard and garden, and even in how Chef Sean Winder creates the Restaurant menu.
“For this latest menu, I literally just took a walk,” says Chef Sean. “I looked around at what was happening on the estate and took my inspiration from that.”
The result is a classic farm-to-table cuisine that is stripped of pretense and lays bare the purity of the locally grown and locally sourced ingredients. This simple elegance is reflected in the language on the menu itself. No more crème fraiche; it’s country cream instead. Ricotta is farmhouse style cheese. Ciabatta bread is a potato rosemary bun.
“I’m excited about the new menu and the honesty of it,” Sean says with a hint of a southern twang that reveals his Virginia roots.
After more than 20 years in the restaurant business, Sean knows that King Estate is something rare in the restaurant world, which is why FoodandWine.com just named it among the country’s top 17 winery restaurants.
“It’s just a unique, special place to be,” he says. “Being out here in the country preserves the purity of the experience. This place pushes you to know more, to ask why. It never settles for complacency and never takes the easy way.”
Most of the produce used in the Restaurant comes from the estate itself and its 26 acres of orchards, berries, greenhouses and gardens. Even the bees do their part, making honey to add a touch of sweetness. What we don’t grow we can find at the local Farmers Market, or from local producers including Ferns’ Edge Goat Dairy, Port Orford Sustainable Seafood, Hawley Ranch, Pachamama Farm, R&R Ranch, Long’s Meat Market, Draper Valley Farms, and many more.
As the days grow longer and food is ready to be picked, Chef can be found in the greenhouse selecting just the right herbs and vegetables for that day’s meals. He has even been known to forage in the woods for mushrooms, and in his spare time he finishes platters – mostly of myrtlewood that he gets from a gallery on the coast – for serving meats and cheeses.
It’s hard to pin Chef down to choose a favorite dish on the menu, but if pushed he concedes he’s loving the crab cakes at the moment. Spring-run salmon, the King Estate hamburger and housemade patés and sausages by Charcuterie Chef Tim Bass are perennial favorites. With the addition of Pastry Chef Shane Tracey, King Estate is now offering a variety of artisanal breads, desserts and fine chocolates. And of course, there’s wine, including the new King Estate Mountain Blocks Rosé of Pinot Noir, available only at the estate and winning rave reviews. This is the first estate-grown Rosé we’ve produced since 2008, and it pairs beautifully with the spring menu.
The Restaurant is now seating visitors until 8 p.m. nightly. Reservations are encouraged (541-685-5189). Chef Sean and his kitchen crew along with the expert Restaurant staff, look forward to sharing the King Estate experience with you.