Yearly Archives: 2010
As the weather gets colder and wetter, and as the brilliant fall colors fade, we can tell winter is not far away. All the grapes are in and much of the fermentation has been completed. We’ve got some bottling to complete before Christmas, and pruning will start up soon. The yearly cycle continues.
Speaking of bottling, I’ve had the opportunity to taste the brand new 2010 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir
President, Taft Street Winery
I am a big fan of home made stock. The canned variety is too salty and metallic tasting. Though it takes some time, there’s not much to it, and the result is worth the time.
- 5 pounds chicken/turkey bones
- 2 onions chopped
- 3 carrots roughly chopped
- 3 celery stalks roughly chopped
- 4 quarts water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients in big pot. Bring to boil, skimming off any scum that should form. Reduce heat to low, until only an occasional bubble rises. Cook 4-6 hours.
- Let cool to room temperature. Remove bones and vegetable remains. Refrigerate overnite.
- A layer of fat will have formed; discard it. If using stock within a few days, refrigerate. If not, the stock freezes wonderfully.
Makes 2 quarts. Use it in soups, stews, or simply by itself. Taft Street wine of any variety makes a grand match.
Well, that was memorable! In certainly one of the more challenging harvests in years, we saw it all: heat, chill, mildew, rain – and the constant clamoring for available tank space. One crises after another had growers in a frenzy, as they tried to find homes for their grapes.
Taft Street was up to the challenge, taking in over 900 tons of grapes in an orderly and professional manner. Evelyn and crew, including harvest cellar rat/general manager Mike Martini, worked over two months of long days (up to 18 hours), but they saw to it the grapes were handled with care.
All the grapes are now in, though fermentation and the dozens of winemaking chores related to the harvest are still to be completed. However, the pace abates a bit as even breathing becomes the norm. Great job from our super winemaking team!
Harvest time is a busy time for everyone at the winery. Our new direct sales force has broken the single month record for California sales, as Clayton and Lauri are opening accounts daily. It gives us great satisfaction to see plans materialize. We’ve always said when we present our wines they sell. We now see it happening every day.
In the Tasting Room, Kaitlyn and crew are having their best year ever. With the Russian River Wine Road’s Wine and Food Affair this weekend (November 6th & 7th), we should be off to a good start this month. I am off to Cleveland for tastings this weekend, but will be back for our harvest party later in the month.
In the meantime, the wines from Year 2010 are taking shape. Let’s all raise a glass!
President, Taft Street Winery
I came up with this recipe a couple of weeks ago while entertaining a group of friends from Seattle. I had some leftover grilled tuna, and I paired it with fresh apple slices and a drop of sriracha – instant crowd pleaser.
- 2 x 4oz tuna filets
- 2 apples
- Juice of one lime
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Combine lime and soy sauce and marinade tuna while heating a grill.
- Sear tuna for 2 minutes on each side, so there is till some pink in the middle. Let cool.
- Slice apples in 2in x 1.5in pieces. Place sliced tuna of the same dimensions on top. Add a drop of sriracha on top.
Makes 18. Serve with a glass of Taft Street Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Yum!
After weeks of waiting anxiously, harvest 2010 has finally arrived – big time! Another late summer heat wave pushed sugar levels into the final ripening stages, and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards are now being harvested. We are doing whatever it takes to ensure the grapes are being taken care of properly; the crew worked until 4:15 am Thursday morning! With good weather forecast for the foreseeable future, it looks like long workdays will continue.
The hard work of Evelyn and her crew does not go unnoticed. Last week the Sonoma County Harvest Fair had its annual Awards Night; and our 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was awarded a DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL, while our 2007 Russian River Valley Zinfandel Cobblestone Vineyard took a GOLD MEDAL. Add on SILVER MEDALS for our 2008 Russian River Valley Chardonnay Garagistes, our 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, and our 2009 Russian River Valley Riesling – and you have a very successful evening. Congratulations to Evelyn White for another good year!
To add more action into our lives, we have decided to market our wines directly to retailers and restaurants in California. Instead of relying on distributors, we have created our own sales team to sell our wine. Laurie Keith will continue to represent us, and she has been joined by Clayton Smith. Together, they will cover Northern California (with some help from me). We will soon add reps in Southern California, and we’ll keep you posted of this exciting adventure. Initial reaction to our move has been overwhelmingly positive.
October is also the busiest time in the Tasting Room. This weekend we are taking part in an open house for members of wine clubs of the West County Wineries Association (formerly Eight at the Gate). On Sunday, October 10th, our autumn wine club party will be held. This is typically our biggest event of the year, and preparations are well underway. To top it all, Laurie Keith is having her engagement party at the winery this weekend. Congratulations and best wishes to Laurie and Tim!
If you are in the area stop by and witness the romance of the wine industry – stained clothing, sweaty faces, yellow jackets ……. And big grins!
President, Taft Street Winery
A friend recently brought me a nice smoked salmon filet. I used it to make a quick and delicious hors d’oeuvre.
- 1 lemon, juice
- 1 shallot, minced
- ½ pound smoked salmon
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup yogurt (Greek style is nice)
- 1 handful basil leaves, chopped
- 24 toasted baguette rounds
- Soak shallot in lemon juice for an hour.
- Put salmon, sour cream, yogurt, basil, shallot and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until mixed but not too smooth.
- Serve over baguette rounds.
These just scream for a glass of Taft Street Chardonnay.
More than 1000 wines using Sonoma County Grapes are entered annually in Sonoma County Fair’s Professional Wine Competition. This competition is the largest regional wine competition in the nation. Judges — 25 of them — come from across the US, and from other countries to sit on a judging panel in three days of blind tastings. Their top selections are announced at the Annual Awards Night Gala.
Taft Street Awards
- Double Gold Medal - 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
- Gold Medal - 2007 Russian River Valley Zinfandel Cobblestone Vineyard
- Silver Medal - 2008 Garagistes Chardonnay
- Silver Medal – 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay
- Silver Medal – 2009 Russian River Valley Riesling
We had a great time at the 15th annual Tomato Fest, held last weekend at our Dry Creek Valley home. Over 90 friends of the tomato gathered with heirloom tomatoes from as far away as Delaware(!) to taste tomatoes, eat tomato based dishes, and enjoy Taft Street wines.
We lucked out on the weather, with perhaps the year’s most glorious day – temperature in the low 80’s, with a warm evening, and no yellow jackets (a rarity for this time of year).
With summer fading quickly and the days noticeably getting shorter, our focus alters with the season. The next month is semi organized chaos, as grapes come in when ripe – not necessarily when we can handle them most easily. Somehow it all gets done, and sometime late in October or early November it will all be over and we will breathe a collective and exhaustive sigh of relief.
It’s also pedal to the metal time in the kitchen, as preserving the season’s produce is the order of the day. With apple cider vinegar and verjus completed, the major tasks ahead include canning 100+ pounds of tomatoes, and drying figs from five fig trees. Somehow, our brains got obsessed with figs and we ended up with 5 trees – 4 too many. Fortunately we have some friends who make chutneys/jams with whatever we don’t dry.
The last remaining garden job is harvesting our own vineyard. Our Syrah came in at 21.9 brix yesterday. We like to pick at 22.5 – 23.0, so it looks like Sunday or Monday, depending on the weather. This year we will make a Rose for the first time. We are quite excited about the project, especially since my brother John will be helping in the winemaking. An added bonus is the wine should be ready for this holiday season!
Mother Nature dealt yet another woe to North Coast grape growers last week, as 105+ degree temperatures were experienced throughout the area. What made the situation particularly dire was the fact that many growers had trimmed the canopies of the vines to allow more air circulation to combat potential mildew. This left the grape bunches susceptible to sunburn. Vineyards with a southern exposure were affected the most. Warm weather is continuing, and we may see some harvest action within the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, Evelyn and the cellar crew have finished the bottling for the moment, and the crew is busy inspecting and preparing equipment, cleaning and getting ready. Vineyard inspections are picking up as well.
We have entered nine wines in this year’s Sonoma County Harvest Fair, with the Awards Night scheduled for September 28th. Meanwhile, Laurie continues her travels throughout the state, opening new markets as she goes.
Kaitlyn and Greg are meeting and greeting an ever increasing number of visitors to the Tasting Room. With the busy season upon us, 2010 should be our best year ever.
Never a dull moment. With the harvest upon us, the Harvest Fair coming up, our fall President’s Club party on the wings – we barely have time enough to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine. But we do.
President, Taft Street Winery
Here’s a green take on lasagna/enchiladas; with tomatillos and cilantro playing major roles. It’s a good dish to serve on those warm September nights.
- 2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
- 12 ounces chicken broth
- 2 cups green onions, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups cilantro, chopped
- 2 serrano chiles, sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 12 six inch corn tortillas
- 4 cups cooked chicken meat, roughly chopped
- 1 pound queso blanco, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup half and half
- Preheat oven to 425F. Mix tomatillos, broth, garlic, cumin in saucepan. Cover, bring to boil, lower heat and cook about 10 minutes. Put in food processor, add cilantro, onions, chiles and coarsely puree.
- Overlap 6 tortillas in a 13 X 9 baking dish. Top with half chicken, queso blanco and half tomatillo sauce. Repeat. Pour ½ and ½ on top and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes.