After a very wet December, winter in Sonoma County has turned cold and dry. It is time for pruning in the vineyards, and getting the early white wines bottled. Our 2012 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Sonoma Country Rose of Pinot Noir, and 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris will soon be in the marketplace.
The results from the 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition are in, and we are proud to announce GOLD MEDALS for our 2009 Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir Garagistes and our 2011 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir. Our 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay and our 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir won SILVER MEDALS. Winemaker Evelyn White will pour the award winning wines at Fort Mason in San Francisco on Saturday, February 16th.
Speaking of accolades, we received a nice review from renowned wine bloggers, Two Guys from Napa.
Scoring great wine at known favorites was easy at the 2013 Winter Wineland. If you aren’t already familiar with these wineries, please change that. We have consistently enjoyed their wines over the years and of the ones they were pouring last weekend, these are the wines we preferred the most:
February will be a busy month for us. Sales Manager Paul Young and I will travel to Southern California next week for an introductory visit with the folks at Ribevi Wines International. Later, Paul will head back east to work in the Massachusetts market. Later visits to Louisiana, Texas and New York are in the works. With Winter WINEland now behind us, Kaitlyn and crew have a month to get ready for Barrel Tasting, March 1 – 3 and March 8 – 10. February would be a great time to visit us, as the Tasting Room will be relatively uncrowded and the season’s new wines will be available.
President, Taft Street Winery
This is a nice twist on white chili. The chocolate and coffee add an extra layer of flavor, which nicely complements a spicy red – Taft Street 2009 Dry Creek Valley Syrah comes to mind.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ounce dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon coffee beans, finely ground
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 x 28 ounce can tomatoes in juice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 x 15 ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
- Heat oil in large pan. Cook onion until soft, 6 – 8 minutes. Add oregano and cumin and stir for a minutes. Add turkey and stir until no longer brown.
- Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, chocolate, coffee, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes and broth. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Add beans, discard bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes. (Can be made a day ahead.)
Diced red onion, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro and sour cream can be served as condiments. Cornbread also goes well with this dish.
No, this is not an April Fool’s joke. It was 31 years ago today, April Fool’s Day 1982, when Taft Street Winery officially became bonded winery #5547. A lot has gone under the bridge in the ensuing years, and we are still having great fun doing what we love. Friends and neighbors will help celebrate the occasion this Saturday.
We are pleased to announce a new partnership with Morris Distributing, a local specialty beverage distributor from Petaluma. Morris will distribute our wines in San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. The represent a number of artisanal brewers, and should widen our distribution significantly in San Francisco and the North Bay. We will continue to sell our wines directly from the Tasting Room and online.
April is a busy month. In additional to our party on April 6th, we will have a winemaker’s dinner at Big Bottom Market in Guerneville on Saturday, April 13th. The very next day, Sunday, April 14th, we will participate in the Sonoma County Vintners’ Association “Sonoma in the City Tour” in San Francisco. Winemaker Evelyn White will pair Taft Street wines with the food of San Francisco chefs at the San Francisco Film Centre from 11:30 – 3:00. Then on Tuesday, April 16th we will pour at the Grand Tasting at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio from 1:00 – 4:00.
Sales Manager Paul Young is on the road again this month with trips to Colorado and Louisiana planned. I’ll be in the New York market towards the end of the month. Clayton is busy smoothing out the transition with Morris Distributing, while Kaitlyn is preparing for the tourist season.
Everything is growing in Sonoma County at the moment, with the vines opening up and the hillsides incredibly lush. A perfect time to spend an afternoon visiting the Taft Street Tasting Room, enjoy a glass or two of wine and perhaps play a little bocce. You’ll be glad you did.
President, Taft Street Winery
With the Holidays and a very wet December behind us, we at Taft Street are eager to face the challenges and opportunities of the New Year. Among our first tasks will be the bottling of three wines from the 2012 vintage: our 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Blanc; the 2012 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc; and our 2012 Sonoma County Rose of Pinot Noir. Our 2011 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc has been sold out for months; and distributors, local retailers and our Tasting Room customers are particularly awaiting this Taft Street favorite.
The bottling schedule is fortuitous because the 21st Annual Winter Wineland takes place January 19th & 20th. Participants will have the opportunity to try new releases and have a chat with winemakers from over 100 participating wineries. This event draws thousands from all over the country and beyond, and we look forward to meeting newcomers as well as those who make Taft Street a regular stop.
Sales Manager Paul Young has scheduled trips to our major markets over the next several months, meeting with those responsible for the continued growth of the Taft Street brand. In Northern California, Clayton and Marc have identified key accounts they will open during the year, and in the Tasting Room Kaitlyn and staff look forward to full year of activities in our newly spruced up Tasting Room and picnic area. Marketing man Jake Martini continues to drag Taft Street into the electronic 21st Century, while the 2 Mikes are a constant reminder of our storied past.
All of us at Taft Street wish the very best to you in 2013.
President, Taft Street Winery
Among the many blessings of living in wine country is the winter citrus season. Oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines and more excel in our cool, moist (and short) winters. Among our favorites is the Meyer lemon, a particularly sweet and tart variety with a smooth skin.
- 3 pounds Meyer lemons (10-12)
- 2/3 cups kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 pint jars with lids
- Blanch 6 lemons in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain. When cool cut into 4 wedges lengthwise. Discard any seeds and toss with salt.
- Pack into pint jars. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons and cover lemons. Screw on lids and let stand at room temperature for 5 days.
- Top up with olive oil and refrigerate. Will keep refrigerated for a year.
Preserved lemons are a natural with Moroccan food, but will also enhance fish soups, roast chicken and salads. Of course a wide spectrum of Taft Street wines will add to the enjoyment.
The first major storms of the season are upon us, and we expect 8-10 inches of rain to fall over the next couple of days. The vines are quickly losing their leaves and the hills are turning green.- winter is on its way.
In the cellar the new wines are completing their fermentation, and indications are the young wines are every bit as good as we had hoped. Alcohol levels are a full point less than the average over the last few years; and with good acid levels the wines show terrific balance.
We continue to adjust and improve our market presence. Our latest move is the appointment of Ribevi Wines International as our Southern California distributor. Ribevi is a highly regarded importer of Italian, Chilean and Argentine wines; and they have hired Mosha Rastgar to head their California wine division, meaning Mosha will continue to represent Taft Street in Southern California. This is truly a win – win situation for both Taft Street and Mosha, and we thank him for his great work over the past year and a half.
The crowds continue in the Tasting Room, though at a more relaxed pace than earlier in the fall. The next event is this weekend, when ten local wineries hold a wine club appreciation day. On Sunday, December 2nd members of all wine clubs can take advantage of discounts from the other participating wineries. If you are not a wine club member, it would be a good time to join and stock up on you Holiday supplies.
The Tasting Room will be open daily through the Holiday Season, though we close for Christmas and New Year’s. You might call ahead on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
May you have a wonderful Holiday Season. We raise a glass of Taft Street to you.
We cooked these for Thanksgiving and they were a big hit. They match well with many winter dishes – roasts, soups, and the like. Plus, they really work with our current house favorite – Taft Street 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup flour
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup grated cheese
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped hers (rosemary, parsley, sage …)
- Preheat oven to 450. Lightly coat a standard muffin pan with butter or oil spray. When oven is heated, heat the pan for 8-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in bowl whisk together milk, eggs, butter, flour and salt until well blended. Add cheese and herbs and mix well.
- Remove pan from oven and pour batter into each cup about 2/3 full. You should use all the batter. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven to 400 and bake 15 minutes more.
- Cool for a couple of minutes and serve warm. Enjoy!
What a difference a year – or two – makes!
After two years of “challenging” harvest – wet springs, followed by fruit shattering heat waves, followed by early rains – this year’s harvest is headed for the record books as about as ideal as possible.
Production across the board is way above the last two years, and above the most optimistic predictions of even a few months ago. Even more important is the quality of the fruit. Growers and winemakers alike are raving about the purity and intensity of flavors. We processed more than 1100 tons of fruit this year, up from 700+ in 2011. In fact, we turned away a number of offers of grapes, as wineries throughout the county (and the state) found themselves with full tanks and barrels.
Our staff, led by winemaker Evelyn White and ably assisted by general manager Mike Martini, put in the 12 – 16 hour days week after week to get the job done correctly. Cleanup has begun and our hats are off to our talented and dedicated production staff!
So what do we do during the chaos of harvest? We party! First we poured our DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL/BEST OF CLASS 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. The next weekend we hosted our annual fall President’s Club party; and we ended the month with a harvest party!
How do we start this month? The Russian River Wine Road’s Wine and Food Affair, where we will pair our 2011 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris with a spicy sriracha chicken. Also check out this month’s Mike Kitchen featuring Garlic Tarts.
There’s more going on. Our new sales manager Paul Young was off on his first outing – to New Orleans, and followed that with a quick visit to Southern California. In the winery we are making our plans and budget for 2013, and the energy and enthusiasm are palpable!
With the harvest over and things returning to normal, it’s a great time to stop by for a glass of wine. Kaitlyn and crew will help you enjoy the bounty of our special place.
President, Taft Street Winery
Fall is upon us, and heartier dishes with red wine fit the bill. Here’s a festive vegetarian dish that works with a number of red wines – I particularly like the 2009 Dry Creek Syrah.
2009 Dry Creek Syrah.
- 12 ounce puff pastry
- 3 head garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup water
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 8 ounces goat cheese
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- In a fluted tart pan roll out puff pastry to line bottom and sides. Put waxed paper on bottom with weights, put in fridge for 30 minutes, then blind bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove weights and bake 10 more minutes.
- Put garlic in pan cover with water and blanch for 4 minutes. Drain. Fry garlic in oil for 2 minutes, add balsamic and water and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar, thyme and salt and cook until liquid has evaporated (10 minutes).
- Break cheese into pieces and scatter in tart shell. Spoon garlic and syrup over cheese. Whisk egg, cream, salt and pepper and pour over tart.
- Reduce oven to 325 and cook for 40 minutes when the tart has set. Cool.
Serve with green salad and Taft Street 2009 Dry Creek Valley Syrah. Enjoy!
Some great photos from the 2012 Sonoma County Harvest Fair Judges Dinner, hosted by Taft Street Winery. A special thanks to all the judges for their time with this year’s competition.