The Central Coast culinary scene is heating up this summer with the launch of Table & Vine Supper Club, the brainchild of Paso Robles-based event producer Morgen Hoffman.
Table & Vine aims to create "one-of-a-kind dining experiences" via collaboration between local chefs, vintners, and venues.
Given her extensive background in corporate entertainment, Hoffman is uniquely qualified for the supper-club task. She also believes there's no better setting for her venture than the Central Coast, with its "beautiful rolling hills, warm days, cool nights, stunning award-winning wines, farm-to-table ingredients, and amazing people who get to call this place home."
A California native, Hoffman's life and career have spanned the state, from her birthplace of Fortuna in the north, to her college years studying communications at UC Santa Barbara, then south to Los Angeles, where she worked as assistant director of special events at NBC Universal until she founded her own Morgen Hoffman Events.
After 18 years in Los Angeles, she dreamed of oak-studded pastures and opening a second location for her event production company, and she made the move to Paso Robles in 2019. Then COVID-19 struck.
While her primary business was temporarily sidelined when the state's nonessential sector shut down, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked into overdrive, and Table & Vine was born.
"I wanted an opportunity to share this amazing place with others," she said. "I've always had a deep love for food and wine. It is the catalyst that brings us together and the reason I became an event planner."
Hoffman refined her new venture behind the scenes, then, when state mask restrictions loosened, she debuted Table & Vine on June 17 at La Lomita Ranch in San Luis Obispo.
"It was a perfect evening, from the wine by Top Winery [in Paso Robles], exquisite food by chef Rachel [Ponce], and, of course, the ambience of La Lomita Ranch," said Tom Halen, general manager of the 240-acre property, featuring a Spanish-style bed and breakfast, vacation rental, and vineyard.
- Photo Courtesy Of Town Of Harmony
- HEADED TO HARMONY? The one-block historic town, purchased by Alan and Rebecca Vander Horst in 2014, will host Table & Vine's Sept. 30 dinner event. The menu is being finalized.
Halen and La Lomita Ranch owners Alan and Rebecca Vander Horst were so impressed that they plan to host a future event at the town of Harmony, also managed by Halen and owned by the Vander Horsts.
"Spending a communal evening with old and new friends in Harmony [would] be magical," Halen said.
- Courtesy Photo By HM Imagery/Hugo Martinez
- SWEET DREAMS Chef Matthew Roberts caps off the evening meal at Covell Ranch with a dark chocolate and espresso torte drizzled with syrah reduction.
Most recently, the spotlight was on Cambria on July 29 when Table & Vine showcased Covell Ranch, famed for its Clydesdale horses, Monterey pine forest, and ocean views. Guests were transported by wagon to an open field atop the 1,500-acre property, where chef Matthew Roberts—assisted by sous chef Ponce—dished up a decadent four-course dinner featuring milk-braised lamb as its centerpiece.
Roberts sources his ingredients from around the county—for the Covell event, in addition to pairing his courses with wine from Stolo Vineyards in Cambria, Roberts worked with 12 different farms and ranches to bring his menu to fruition.
"When I have dinners," Roberts said, "first and foremost, I get inspired by ingredients; that's the driving force. The approach to the menu ... comes down to celebrating all the hard work that goes into the product and telling the story of the hands that feed us."
Hoffman adds that all her events are carefully orchestrated, featuring partners who align with her brand philosophy. She looks for "up-and-coming chefs and vintners who are making a name for themselves and have an amazing product or service to share with us."
Or, as is the case with Table & Vine's next dinner experience, she selects "a long-standing, well-known winery or chef that has a beautiful story here on the Central Coast and has helped grandfather or develop the area as we know it today."
No one fits that bill more closely than Gary Eberle, who will be pouring at Sensorio in Paso Robles on Aug. 25.
Eberle's long list of accolades includes producing the country's first 100 percent syrah varietal in 1978 and co-founding the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area in 1983.
- Photo Courtesy Of Eberle Winery
- AGED TO PERFECTION At 77, legendary winemaker Gary Eberle jokes that "wine makes the best preservative." Hear the stories behind his pours at the Sensorio dinner experience in Paso Robles on Aug. 25.
"Gary Eberle, quite frankly, rules," said chef Ron Frazier, who, along with chef Kenny Seliger, will be creating the farm-to-table meal. "He was such a gracious host to us during our tasting. His wines are incredible, and his staff is top-notch. He is on the Paso Robles wine Mount Rushmore. It's humbling to work with someone of Gary's reputation and accomplishments."
Eberle was likewise impressed with Frazier and Seliger, executive sous chef and executive chef, respectively, of In Bloom restaurant, slated to open this fall at Paso Market Walk.
"We tasted through several wines with the chefs," Eberle said, "but I wanted the chefs to select the wines that inspired them. I wanted to see where the flavors of the wine would take the food pairings.
"We narrowed it down to five wines: our barbera—one of our Italian varietals and one we do very well; the estate cabernet—my flagship and why I became a winemaker; the viognier—my favorite white wine, and, as far as I am concerned, our most friendly food-pairing wine; the Cotes-du-Robles—our red Rhone blend; and, of course, our estate muscat canelli, which is semi-sweet and refreshing, the perfect way to end the meal.
"Of course, I have stories behind each and every one of these wines," Eberle continued, "which I will look forward to sharing at the dinner."
The dinner will be set amid "a beautiful sea of lights," added Eberle, whose winery is located half a mile from Sensorio, a 15-acre garden and art attraction owned by locals Ken and Bobbi Hunter.
Hoffman will finalize additional monthly dinner experiences shortly, and guest capacity for each has varied, from 50 at La Lomita and Covell ranches, to a maximum of 96 at Sensorio.
Table & Vine will most likely go dark during the colder, off-season months of November to February, Hoffman said, and in the new year, she said she might explore new partnerships and ideas, such as Sunday brunch.
She's excited about the future, but one element will remain constant—crafting "a truly unforgettable dining experience that incorporates all of the vibrant flavors, ingredients, culinary talents, and viewpoints found here on the Central Coast," she said, "... all onto one table."Δ
Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte can't wait to see where Table & Vine heads next. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.