Davis Bynum Wine Dinner at République

Davis Bynum

At République, a French a French-inspired Michelin-star restaurant in Los Angeles' mid-Wilshire area, diners enjoy the historic ambiance of the 1929 building originally built by Charlie Chaplin. This venue was the perfect setting for an evening with Davis Bynum winemaker Greg Morthole, who showcased seven different wines.

Morthole shared the story of Rodney Strong, a wine legend who saw Sonoma County's potential for winemaking back in 1959. As a pioneer, Strong paved the way for the region's winemaking future. In 1989, the Klein Family, fourth-generation farmers, took over Rodney Strong Vineyards, continuing to craft premium wines while emphasizing sustainable farming and environmental stewardship. Today, Davis Bynum wines are part of the Rodney Strong brand, with 11 estate vineyards in Sonoma County focused on innovation, progress, and environmental protection.


Davis Bynum winemaker Greg Morthole

Greg Morthole started working for Rodney Strong Vineyards in 2005 as a lab director. Two years later he became an associate winemaker and then three years after that was promoted to become a Davis Bynum winemaker. While overseeing all of the operations and aspects of winemaking, he and Davis frequently enjoyed lunch together and became good friends. “Davis was always a gentleman and we grew to have a great relationship,” said Morthole.

Philosophically, Morthole believes wine is intriguing to those who enjoy it partially because the transformation from juice to wine is mystifying. “I think that the synergistic effects of all the different things found in wine are incredible.”


In 2021, the winery installed a new solar array system to create just over 1.5 Megawatts. It's one of the largest solar arrays in the world, supplying 49% of the winery's overall electricity. 

The family-owned and operated winery has 99% of their vineyard acreage certified sustainable. They take every step to safeguard this region’s ecosystem and continue to focus on sustainability.

Republique baguette. Photo Jill Weinlein

The evening started with a glass of 2023 Virginia's Block Sauvignon Blanc, an aromatic tropical style white wine. Aromas of passion fruit, guava and honeydew send an appealing waft on the nose. Taking a sip, a generous layer of citrus peel tingles the tongue. The depth of flavor this wine offers is ideal to highlight the rich soft butter layered generously on a slice of baguette that is crisp on the outside and warm and soft inside.

The grapes for this wine grow on five acres in the heart of the Russian River Valley. The wine is named as a tribute to Davis Brynum's second love, Virginia Bynum. When the fruit clusters turned golden as the sunlight warmed the fruit through maturity, Morthole knew they were ready to harvest.

The wine paired well with owner Margarita Manzke's perfect French baguette served with Rodolphe le meunier butter. Margarita was a 2023 James Beard Award winner for 'Outstanding Pastry Chef of Baker.'

Her golden baguettes offer a crackly crust when torn at the serrated line. The pleasing well-fermented dough aroma and warm and soft interior have tiny holes for the soft butter to sink into. Each sip of the white wine helps to dilute the creaminess from the butter left on one's palate.

This wine also paired well with the savory, briny and umami flavors of the fresh Santa Barbara uni on top of a slice of warm brioche bread. Next to this delicacy was bluefin tuna on a slice of brioche bread topped with kaluga caviar and smoked tomatoes.

The SRP for a bottle of 2023 Virginia's Block Sauvignon Blanc is $30.

Davis Bynum Chardonnay. Photo Jill Weinlein

Davis Bynum has two Chardonnays worthy to serve during a summer brunch or dinner. The 2022 River West Chardonnay was poured to pair with Hiramasa Crudo dazzling with freshly picked Harry's Berries strawberries, chopped cucumber, Thai basil and slices of spicy peppers. A sprinkling of chopped Santa Barbara pistachios enhanced this dish giving it a delightful crunchy texture.

This first Davis Bynum Chardonnay poured offered enticing aromas of apple, lemon and graham cracker with the flavors of an apple pie and floral notes. There was a dark oak and pleasing butterscotch finish with each sip. The SRP of this wine is $30.

When owner Walter Manzke arrived in the dining room with a large truffle in his hand, he went from one diner to another to thinly shave a generous amount of the nutty mushroom umami fungi on top of porcini mushroom agnolotti. Tiny pasta pillows were filled with mushrooms and red cow parmesan were blanketed with shaved black truffles. This decadent dish went well with a glass of 2022 Gravel Lens Chardonnay.

After spending 15 months in French and Hungarian oak barrels, this white wine offered an orange blossom perfume with hints of apricot. It was a floral wine that balanced the savoriness of the comforting agnolotti dish. The creamy mouthfeel was light with a touch of acidity and golden honey on the finish. The SRP of this wine is $50.

Davis Bynum Pinot Noirs

The ethereal agnolotti was enjoyed with a pour of the 2022 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. This jammy red cherry wine is smooth and balanced with ripe fruit-forward flavors. It's a low in acid and tannins wine with hints of toasted marshmallow and caramel. The elegant finish lingers with the essence of cherry and toasted oat to the very end. The SRP of this wine is $45.

République Liberty Duck. Photo Jill Weinlein

When the Liberty Duck entree arrived with two tender filets, sliced Bing cherries and triangles of Tokyo turnips, the slightly sweet peppercorn jus was ladeled on top. This was ideally paired a glass of 2021 Lindley's Knoll Pinot Noir. We learned that Lindley is Davis Bynum's middle name. This lovely red wine offers a rose balance with cherry and caramel, followed by ripe plum and butterscotch. The SRP for this wine is $65.

Davis Bynum

For those looking for Davis Bynum tasting opportunities, visit the elegant farmhouse tasting room in Sonoma Valley.

For a $40 tasting fee, guests receive a taste of the 2022 River West Chardonnay; 2022 Russian River Pinot Noir; 2017 Clone 667 Pinot Noir; 2019 Clone 114 Pinot Noir and 2018 Clone 115 Pinot Noir. Join the Davis Bynum wine club and tastings are complimentary.

Jill Weinlein

Los Angeles based Jill Weinlein covers travel, food and lifestyle destinations for multiple newspapers, magazines and websites. Her areas of expertise include, luxury travel, culinary reviews, cruising and family travel destinations. Born in Los Angeles, Jill studied Communications and Theatre Arts at UCLA. She has a a Dine and Travel blog - and she writes a weekly restaur...(Read More)

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