Van Williamson, the winemaker of Edmeades, has a feast in his freezer that would shock most of the civilized world. In he has a stash of food that comes from tireless hunting and gathering: pheasant, geese, ducks, abalone, sardines, albacore, halibut, salmon and venison.
“I do eat very well,” Williamson said with a gritty laugh. “I like eating this meat better. The flavor is better. It’s not grain-fed so there’s nothing added, just nature.”
The hunter, fisherman and forager best known to many as “Vanimal,” Williamson said his nickname comes from his keen sense of smell. “I remember one time telling people that I could tell the smell of a buck from a doe when I was hunting, which is more doglike than human,” he joked. “Of course the nickname could also be because I like to party a lot.”
Williamson makes rockin good zin – a favorite is the Edmeades, 2006 Perli Ridge, Mendocino Ridge, $30. The grapes from this zin hail from a vineyard that so steep that if it were located on a ski resort, it would be considered “Double Black Diamond.”
The winemaker says he’s a zinfanatic and so he cooks dishes that cater to zin like mushroom risotto, fish and meat with Thai or Mediterraean sauces, and vegetable stir fry.
Williamson appears to be as skilled at hunting grapes as he is deer. “Capturing the fruit at the right time, that’s my job. That’s my number 1 thing I try to do.”