OpenTable award for nonexistent food experience at Loxton — Cellars of wine, not food
By Paul Goguen
Loxton Cellars was recently recognized as an OpenTable “Top Ten Best Overall Restaurant in Wine Country” — a lofty and slightly confusing accolade, considering that the winery offers no food. Sonoma Valley wineries Schermeister, in the Jack London Village in Glen Ellen, and the Mayo Reserve Room, on Sonoma Highway in Kenwood, also landed in the top ten. The OpenTable honor is determined each month based on user reviews that may include ratings from young ladies in floppy hats and rompers, and dudes who wear scarves indoors.
The Mayo Reserve Room does offer a much-acclaimed food and wine pairing, with a menu that changes seasonally. Schermeister partnered with Goodness Gracious Catering in Glen Ellen for a while last year when pandemic restrictions required that tasting rooms offer food to remain open. Loxton Cellars, however, offers no food at all, with the possible exception of a grape sample off a vine if you are fortunate enough to be there at the right time of year.
The Kenwood Press recently met with Chris Loxton at the Loxton vineyard in Glen Ellen and asked about his reaction to the award. “I really don’t know. I have no idea what it is,” he said. At press time, the OpenTable page for Loxton Cellars rated the experience a 5.0 (the highest rating) for service and a solid 4.9 for the food experience. Loxton is understandably confused by the rating but is a good sport about it. “Yeah, especially [since] I don’t have food. St. Francis won one of these OpenTable awards, but they do have their wine and food pairing …. In fact, OpenTable is kind of unusual, in that you can rate the food and wine experience, so people either rated us zero for food or they go in the spirit of all the other ratings and just give it 5. I’ve had someone rate us only a 2 on food, which means it’s better than some restaurants but not as good as the really good ones,” Loxton said of his impressive ratings for nonexistent food. “I’m really confused.”
Loxton is sticking with the tried-and-true when it comes to the wine he produces. “I just love Syrah. It’s what my father grew in Australia and so did my grandfather. I work with a vineyard here in Glen El- len on Lawndale Road, I have the estate Syrah and I used to work with a vineyard in Santa Rosa and one down in Petaluma. They are all made the same way, but they turn out completely different. The soils are different. Syrah works so well with food and it’s just a good wine.”
Loxton also shared a little about the Loxton family’s history of winemaking in Australia and now here in Sonoma Valley. “They were just home winemakers, really, although [my] dad’s cousin [is] a commercial winemaker in Australia. But my family has owned vineyards for four generations. I’m the fourth generation, and then I have my sister’s youngest son, who has just started his own label in the Adelaide hills — so he’ll be the fifth generation to grow grapes but the second to make wine. It’s a big deal to grow it and make it and sell it. I underestimated how many hats [winemaking requires], but this is a unique place to do that.”
If you are interested in visiting Loxton Cellars, you can book through OpenTable and choose between the following two options under the “Experiences” heading: “Vineyard ‘Walkabout’ Tour (no food),” or “Outdoor Wine Tasting (no food).”
So bring your refined wine tasting palate but leave your appetite at home. Loxton Cellars is located at 11466 Dunbar Rd. in Glen Ellen.