He owns winery and she bakes French cookies. They’re teaming up to put on sweet event
The welcome mat is out for an early Valentine’s Day celebration dubbed Sweetheart Sunday. The Feb. 12 event will be set in the countryside at Olathe’s Stone Pillar Vineyard & Winery.
Gifts for guests — aromatic wines and fresh French macarons — are original creations from two of Olathe’s home-grown artisans. One is a pastry chef, the other a modern-day vintner.
Chrissy Zemencik, a culinary arts teacher in the Olathe School District, bakes in her kitchen, the Cake Loft, after school hours. For Sweetheart Sunday, she will deliver macarons, delicate meringue cookies praised for their creamy melt-in-your-mouth filling.
“There aren’t many others who bake macarons,” said Zemencik, 24. “I’m biased, you might say, but I think I’m the best source for fresh macarons.”
George Hoff, Stone Pillar partner with cousin Thomas Hoff Jr., said gifts at the sweetheart event are the pairing of five of Zemencik’s macarons and a choice of five Stone Pillar wines, from red to a variety of whites.
“We’re teaming up with Chrissy to spoil you the way you should be spoiled,” Hoff said.
The party’s organizers are prepared to make it a special day, Zemencik said.
“It’s a unique experience,” she said. “You can dress up as fancy as you want or be casual.”
Olathe is dear to both of the party’s contributors.
Zemencik was schooled in a two-year culinary arts program anchored in the Olathe School District and backed by the National Restaurant Association. She further polished her baking and pastry skills in food and cooking classes at Johnson County Community College.
Next, she launched a career as a professional baker and a culinary arts teacher at Olathe Advanced Technical Center for five years.
Olathe has always been home to Hoff. From the time he was a kid and far into his future, Hoff helped farm the land, which has been in his family for 160 years.
Fourteen years ago, grapes became the farm’s beloved crop. Stone Pillar Vineyard & winery has grown into a place where hand-picked grapes produce 20 or more wines.
A hillside view of the vineyard’s Old World French vines and French-American hybrids is a thing of beauty, Hoff said.
“Come see it for yourself once the vines are leafed out,” he said.
It’s easy to imagine that Hoff’s sweetheart sentiment has its roots in the family history. Great-Great Grandfather Frederick Hoff and Great-Great-Grandmother Mary met on the ship that carried them from Germany to America.
They mapped a route to Kansas and in 1864, purchased farmland from a Civil War widow. Charlie Blue Jacket, a Shawnee Indian of the state of Kansas, witnessed and signed the transaction. Then the sweethearts made the farm home.
The expansive acreage, including the vineyard and winery, are today owned and operated by the Hoff family’s fifth generation.
Doors open and guests will be welcomed by hosts from noon to 5 p.m. on Sweetheart Sunday.
Reservations are $35 per person for the day (reserve online by going to www.stonepillarvineyard.com and clicking on events).
“You don’t need a date,” Hoff said. “But there’s an opportunity to choose wine to take home as original gifts for Valentine’s Day — or to drink it yourself.”